Friday, June 6, 2014

Asparagus and artichoke salad, and ways to fix digestive problems

Bailey, the cat, teases Nika, the malamute, from his safety zone.
Have you noticed how complicated we humans seems to make things? As an example, my husband developed a red rash on his arms that wouldn't clear up. He started thinking allergy to hand soap or detergent or hand lotion or some mysterious illness or skin disorder.

The cause was really quite simple to figure out. Every day, he was cutting fresh grass to feed to his horse as a treat. She loved the tasty snack but hubby's skin had developed contact dermatitis to grass, which has microscopic barbs that can result in an allergic reaction. The easy solution was he started wearing long sleeves when cutting the grass and the rash disappeared.

Digestive problems aren't quite so easy to figure out but sometimes, there is something that we overlook.  I have always been a fast eater. As I have dashed about my busy day, eating has taken second place to every thing else. I've heard and ignored recommendations that you should chew your food slowly until each bite basically resembles a paste before you swallow.

Recently, I decided to really get serious about the slow chewing process to see if it would help when added to what I already do. I am taking digestive supplements (HCL-pepsin, digestive enzymes), eating easy-to-digest carbohydrates and seeing some benefit. But I'm still not getting the relief I want.

Eureka! Chewing slowly and turning each mouthful of food into a fine paste actually helped. Yes, meals take a lot longer to consume, sometimes as much as an hour but it makes a difference.

Here are some important lessons I've learned in the past few months:

  • Chew slowly, take your time with each meal, swallow only when the food is a fine paste.
  • You need to chew each bite for about 20 seconds.
  • Take some additional time before getting the next bite.
  • Measure and weigh your carbohydrates. Eat hard-to-digest (high glycemic) ones in very small quantities.
  • Take digestive bitters, either before or after meals.  I prefer to take mine after breakfast and dinner. I take one teaspoon of Swedish Digestive Bitters, alcohol free.
  • Don't eat after 8 p.m. Eating earlier gives you more time to digest food before becoming less active as the evening wears on.
Artichoke, asparagus and shrimp salad with cucumber dressing

I continue to eat lots of salads. My latest creation is an Asparagus, Artichoke and Shrimp Salad. My recipe is a remake of one I saw on the Steven and Chris Show on the LiveWell Network.

Here's what you need for one salad:

1/2 cucumber (for dressing)
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. Eden mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
drop of liquid stevia, if desired
6 very thinly sliced cucumber rounds
3 blanched asparagus spears, cut into one-inch pieces
5-6 cooked shrimp
2 artichoke quarters, steamed
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 small zucchini, cut into matchstick pieces, and steamed
2 large handfuls mixed greens
1 T. shredded carrot

Here's what you do:

Make the cucumber dressing: combine 1/2 peeled cucumber, vinegar, dill, mustard, stevia, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside to chill in the fridge.

Steam your asparagus spears, artichokes and zucchini. Plunge into ice water to cool off. If desired, saute your zucchini pieces or serve raw.

Assemble your salad. Arrange cucumber rounds in a circle on a plate. Toss greens, shrimp and other veggies with desired amount of cucumber dressing. Garnish with shredded carrot.

Recipe contributed to:

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