October 22, 2014

Hope springs eternal

robin-conscious-cook-1c

“What I am jazzed about is knowing that this is a new week, and Mother Nature’s making new ingredients.”

— Emeril Lagasse

As long as gardens continue to grow, then hope does indeed spring eternal. No matter how harsh the winter, or how miserable the storms of life that must be weathered, the re-emergence of new growth in spring slowly helps restore battered souls and bored palates.

Bright green, slender shoots of chives have popped up in their pots in my garden and are beckoning to be snipped into some sensational spring dish. Chives have been utilized as a culinary and medicinal ingredient since ancient times, when the Romans believed that they were effective in relieving sore throats and sunburns.

Chives have a distinct scent and flavor, never overpowering, but with a slightly sharp, oniony essence. A member of the lily family, chives are part of a large genus of over 500 species of perennials that contain bulbs or underground stems. Chives, along with garlic, onions, scallions and leeks, are also known as allium herbs.

Chives can be planted from seed and will come back year after year, tolerating drought and growing well in almost any garden soil. They contain valuable vitamin and mineral content, including vitamins K, A, C, as well as magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium.

Useful for their antibacterial and antiviral properties, chives also supply anticlotting and decongestant aid. As with all the plants in the allium group, chives may be effective in reducing the risk of certain cancers. Chives may also be effective against strains of salmonella and are rich in flavonoids, powerful antioxidants which are naturally anti-inflammatory.

The sprightly flavor of chives are a perfect topping for baked or sweet potatoes, and will add a bit of spark to salads, sauces or dips. Minced chives can be mixed with organic butter for a lovely spread for bread. Nature provides such hopeful ingredients to help us prepare a delicious life.

 

Chive Dip

1 8-ounce container low-fat or no-fat sour cream

1/2 cup finely minced fresh chives

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice from an organic lemon

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 clove garlic minced

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

A dash of cayenne pepper

 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Let sit so flavors can meld for at least an hour. Then transfer to a pretty serving dish and serve with steamed asparagus spears, red, yellow and purple pepper strips, sugar snap peas, baby carrots, baby cauliflower florets and toasted pita bread for dipping.

 

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, is a food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College. She specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes for children and adults, as well as cooking presentations and wellness workshops for many local organizations. For more information go to theconsciouscook.net, call 203-393-1037, or go to confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com