Thursday , July 9 2020

Spring into Health with Seasonal Veggies and Exotic Spices

By Betsy Bruns

Father’s Day may have you thinking of summer grilling. As June bridges the final days of Spring with the Summer Solstice, we are featuring seasonal ingredients and an unusual spice that will play with your appetite and taste buds in surprising ways. In the Midwest, asparagus and peas are in season and can be purchased fresh from local growers and co-ops, as well as from your local grocer.

Asparagus is in full bounty from April to June and is a health-promoting food. Low in calories, rich in fiber, water and antioxidants, it nourishes your body and aids in weight loss. Asparagus is also a prebiotic, which helps to keep your microbiome healthy.

Peas are in season from June to August. While some might think them boring, they have a special benefit you might be delighted to know about. Peas, specifically their protein, have been shown to reduce the secretion of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. That means eating more peas just might make you feel fuller longer, which may translate to weight loss.

Kala namak, or black salt, has a sulfurous aroma and this exotic spice lends an eggy flavor to any dish, especially our egg-less egg salad. Black salt can be found in some health foods stores, Indian markets or online.


Image courtesy of

Saffron Risotto with Asparagus and Peas

Traditional risotto is laden with butter and cheese. This version is low in fat, but the creaminess and flavor remain.

8 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 ½ cups Arborio rice
Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Saffron threads (1 large pinch) or ¼ tsp saffron powder
½ cup white wine
½ pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 cup green peas
½ cup fresh basil, chopped 

Heat one half cup broth in a large skillet or saucepan. Add the onion, leek and garlic and sauté for three minutes. Add the rice and sauté for five minutes. Keep stirring the rice as you sauté to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and black pepper.

Heat eight cups broth in a separate pot. Crumble in the saffron threads (or powder) and stir to dissolve. Some threads may remain undissolved, but that’s okay. Add the wine to the rice and cook until the rice absorbs the liquid. Add a ladle of broth to the rice and stir again until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the asparagus, peas and basil. Keep adding hot broth a ladleful at a time to the rice until all the broth is gone and the rice is creamy. The entire process takes about 20 to 25 minutes.


Image by Betsy Bruns

Egg-less Salad

This dish is deliciously deceiving. It looks and tastes like egg salad without the eggs or saturated fat and cholesterol.

1 can chickpeas (1 ½ cups)
¼ cup diced onion, finely chopped, or to taste
3 tablespoons pickle relish
3 tablespoons low-fat dairy and egg-free mayonnaise
3 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon kala namak(black salt), or to taste
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup green pea

Mash chickpeas with a fork or potato masher, leaving some chunkiness. Stir in onion, relish, mayonnaise substitute, mustard, black salt, turmeric and garlic powder. Fold in green peas and give a final stir. Check the seasonings and adjust according to your taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve over seasonal leafy greens, in a wrap with your choice of veggies or with toast points.


Recipe Sources

Saffron Risotto with Peas and Asparagus photo and recipe by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook by Neal Barnard, recipe by Robyn Webb

Egg-less Salad recipe by Betsy Bruns


Betsy Bruns is a plant-based health coach, “Food for Life” instructor with the “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping practitioner. When she isn’t making healing food taste like comfort food, or helping clients tap away stress and cravings with EFT, she’s cuddling her one-eared French bulldog, Van Gogh. Visit her at



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