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Healthy Eating to Start Your New Year!

Photo credit: Mary Dee Mateo

It's that time of year again when many are back in the gym and mindful of their eating habits. And while we can't predict everything that's going to happen in 2018, we do know that many health food trends will be heading our way as invigorating foods that are good for you will find their way to the kitchen table.

To kick off the New Year right, we're celebrating the third Monday of January, AKA "Blue Monday." If you're in a bluesy type of mood because you're still not happy with your eating habits, then let's begin with a couple delicious recipes from two of our publications: Cooking Wild: More Than 150 Recipes for Cooking Close to Nature, and Sea Robins, Triggerfish & Other Overlooked Seafood. We’re confident these two tasty and nutritious culinary offerings will turn your frown upside down and your blues into some delicious greens!

1.) Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Olive Oil, Pecorino, and Prosciutto

Besides eating asparagus raw, grilling the hearty vegetable is an excellent way to emphasize the fresh flavor of the vegetable itself. Of course, you can use cultivated asparagus as well. Lemon-infused olive oil is available in Italian markets and specialty food stores. Look for the Agrumato brand from Italy or the "O" brand from California.

This delicious and simple healthy dish serves 4

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Flaky sea salt such as Maldon

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons Italian or California lemon-infused EVOO

2 ounces pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler

8 very thin slices of prosciutto

3 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry and fried in olive oil until crisp

Lemon wedges, for serving

Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Brush the asparagus with the EVOO and season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the asparagus, turning as needed, until lightly browned on all sides but still green and crisp. Place on a plate and drizzle with the Italian or lemon-infused olive oil. Scatter the cheese over the asparagus, arrange the prosciutto attractively on top, and sprinkle with the capers. Serve with the lemon wedges.

2.) Scallop Aguachile

This ceviche-style recipe is a welcome reminder of warmer weather and can be assembled onto a platter for entertaining a large group.

The origins of this recipe preparation specify a very brief marinade of the seafood just prior to serving as opposed to the longer marinade commonly found in traditional ceviches. In other words, have all the ingredients and preparations completed before introducing the acidic lime juice to the sea scallops. Excessive exposure to the acid will cause the scallops to become tough and rubbery. Of course, use only the freshest and highest quality sea scallops available, which are typically dry-packed. The U-10 in reference to the scallops below means there are 10 or fewer to the pound, so they are quite large and you only need a few to make a meal.

This delicious and simple healthy dish serves 4.

Whipped Avocado

2 ripe avocados

1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt, to taste

Aguachile Sauce

1 Jalapeño pepper, stem removed

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 cups chopped cucumber

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/8 cup mint leaves

1/4 cup cilantro leaves


6 large (U-10) dry-packed fresh sea scallops

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

To Make the Whipped Avocado:

Halve the avocados, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend the avocado, and while the blender is processing, slowly add the vinegar, then oil in a thin stream. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and season to taste. This can also be made by hand in a mixing bowl by simply mashing the avocado well with a fork or potato masher, then whisk in the vinegar and oil until homogenous. Note: If preparing this recipe in advance, it will be important to correctly store the final product to reduce the occurrence of oxidization, or browning. To do so, tightly pack the avocado mixture to eliminate any air bubbles, then pack tightly in a sealed container to reduce the amount of exposed air.

To make the Aguachile Sauce:

In a blender, add the jalapeño, garlic, cucumber, parsley, mint, and cilantro leaves. Purée until smooth, then strain to remove any pulp. Set aside until ready to use. Note: In the restaurant, we use a cold process thickening agent derived from modified tapioca starch called UltraTex 8. This helps to thicken the sauce for presentation purposes when plating. UltraTex8 is available from high-end spice merchants or available online.

To make the Scallops:

Slice the scallops into coins 1/4-inch thick. Lay the slices of scallop into a non-reactive dish and toss well with the lime juice. Marinate for 3 to 4 minutes just before serving.

To Serve: Spoon a liberal amount of the Aquachile Sauce onto plate and place 3 or 4 slices of the marinated scallops around the dish. Spoon or pipe the whipped avocado on and around the scallop, finishing the plate with a fresh squeeze of lime juice, some course flake salt, and garnish with a few fresh leaves of cilantro.

Cheers to healthy eating in 2018!

For full recipes and more info on these two dishes, please grab a copy of the books here:

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