Diet Detective: Spring Recipes

      Spring Sugar Snap Pea Salad

      Healthy Recipe by award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Seamus Mullen

      Makes 4 servings

      1/4 cup whole natural almonds
      1 bunch radishes (approximately 8-10)
      1 pound fresh sugar snap peas
      1/2 cup fresh part-skim ricotta cheese, crumbled
      A few leaves fresh peppermint
      1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
      Freshly ground black pepper
      Juice of 1 lemon
      1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
      Pinch Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
      Handful of edible flowers, such as pea blossoms or nasturtiums

      Roughly chop the almonds, and toast, if desired.*
      Thinly slice the radishes into coin shapes or half-moons. Set aside.
      With a sharp knife, trim the tips of the sugar snap peas on both ends, remove the strings if they bother you, and cut in half on the diagonal.
      Blanch the peas in boiling water for no more than 30 seconds; remove from boiling water and shock in ice water until cold. Drain well.
      In a large bowl, combine the almonds, peas, radishes, cheese and peppermint. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Serve with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper and garnish of edible flowers.

      *Toasting almonds brings out their intense nutty flavor. Simply spread on a baking sheet and pop into a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for 7-10 minutes; chopping the almonds first can help this process go faster. To toast sliced or slivered almonds, heat a skillet to medium-high and add almonds; cook, tossing regularly to prevent burning, for 4-5 minutes or until highly aromatic. Allow almonds to cool before adding to the salad.

      Nutritional information (per serving): 265 calories; 4 g fiber; 21 g fat (4 g saturated); 10 mg cholesterol; 112 mg sodium; 160 mg calcium; 57 mg magnesium; 9 g protein; 366 mg potassium; 13 g carbohydrate; 5 mg vitamin E

      Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus Panini

      Healthy Recipe from the editors of Better Homes and Gardens: Fresh Grilling

      Makes 4 servings

      16 asparagus spears
      8 very thin prosciutto slices (5 ounces)
      8 slices marble rye bread
      1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
      1 cup lightly packed arugula (optional)
      8 thin slices provolone cheese
      1 tablespoon bottled balsamic vinaigrette (or 2 teaspoons olive oil combined with 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar)

      Snap off and discard woody bases from asparagus. Trim stalks barely longer than the bread slices. For a charcoal or gas grill, place asparagus directly on the grill rack over medium heat. Cover and grill perpendicular to grates for 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds to cool; drain.

      Using kitchen scissors, cut each piece of prosciutto in half lengthwise. Starting at the base of an asparagus spear, wrap 1 halved prosciutto piece around each asparagus spear diagonally to the top of the spear.

      Spread 4 slices of the bread with mustard. Place 4 prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears horizontally on each mustard-topped bread slice. If desired, top with arugula. Top with 2 slices of cheese. Lightly brush remaining 4 bread slices with balsamic vinaigrette. Place bread, vinaigrette side down, on top of cheese.

      For a charcoal or gas grill, place sandwiches on the lightly greased grill rack directly over medium heat. Place a 1392-inch baking pan on the sandwiches; weight pan with a brick. Grill about 2 minutes or until sandwiches are light brown. Remove the baking pan. Using a spatula, carefully turn over sandwiches. Place weighted pan back on sandwiches; grill about 2 minutes more or until cheese melts.

      Nutritional information (per serving): 402 calories; 15 g fat (8 g sat. fat); 54 mg cholesterol; 1,713 mg sodium; 39 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 29 g protein.

      (Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.)

      Grilled Strawberry, Tomato and Chicken Wraps

      Healthy Recipe from the editors of Better Homes and Gardens: Fresh Grilling

      Makes 4 servings

      12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
      Salt and ground black pepper
      1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
      2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
      1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
      2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
      2 tablespoons olive oil
      1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint
      1 teaspoon honey
      1 clove garlic, minced
      12 butterhead lettuce leaves
      1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
      1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

      Cut chicken into 11/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Alternately thread chicken and red onion on skewers, leaving 1/4-inch space between pieces. Alternately thread strawberries and tomatoes on separate skewers, leaving 1/4-inch space between pieces.

      For a charcoal or gas grill, place chicken kabobs on a grill rack directly over medium heat. Cover and grill 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning kabobs once halfway through grilling. Add strawberry and tomato kabobs to grill rack directly over medium heat. Cover and grill 3 to 5 minutes or until strawberries and tomatoes have softened and are heated through, turning kabobs once halfway through grilling.

      In a screw-top jar, combine vinegar, oil, mint, honey and garlic. Cover and shake well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

      Remove chicken, onions, strawberries and tomatoes from skewers and place in a large bowl; drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve in lettuce leaves and top with cheese and almonds.

      Nutritional information (per serving): 284 calories; 14 g fat (3 g saturated); 63 mg cholesterol; 356 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 22 g protein

      (Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.)

      Seasonal Strawberry Salsa

      Healthy Recipe by Dr. Janet Brill, author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

      Makes 16 servings (serving size = 1/4 cup)

      1 pint fresh strawberries, chopped
      1 small red onion, chopped
      1 cup tomatillos (green tomatoes), chopped (approximately 4 tomatoes)
      1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
      1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced
      Juice from 1 fresh lime

      In a medium size bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

      Nutritional information (per serving): 16 calories; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 0 g protein; 0 mg sodium

      Grilled Garlic Artichokes

      Healthy Recipe provided by, submitted by Rosiella

      Makes 4 servings

      1 lemon, quartered
      2 large artichokes
      3/4 cup olive oil
      4 cloves garlic, chopped
      1 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

      Fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze the juice from one lemon wedge into the water. Trim the tops from the artichokes, then cut in half lengthwise and place halves in the bowl of lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.

      Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.

      Add artichokes to boiling water, and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon wedges into a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil and garlic, and season with salt and pepper.

      Brush the artichokes with a coating of the garlic dip, and place them on the preheated grill. Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with dip and turning frequently until the tips are a little charred. Serve immediately with the remaining dip.

      Nutritional information (per serving): 402 calories; 40.7 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 659 mg sodium; 10 g carbohydrate; 4.7 g fiber; 2.9 g protein

      Chilled Sugar Snap Pea Soup

      Healthy Recipe provided by, submitted by Chef John

      Makes 6 servings

      1 tablespoon olive oil
      1 cup leeks, halved lengthwise and chopped
      1 pinch salt
      4 cups chicken broth
      Ground black pepper to taste
      1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
      1 pound sugar snap peas, ends and strings removed
      2 fresh mint leaves
      1 tablespoon crme fraiche
      2 fresh mint leaves, cut into very fine strips for garnish

      Pour olive oil into a large pot set over medium heat and add leeks to hot oil. Season leeks with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until leeks are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour chicken broth over leeks and bring to a boil. Season with black pepper and cayenne pepper.

      Stir peas into boiling broth mixture and add the mint leaves. Bring back to a boil and cook until peas are bright green and have started to soften, 5 to 6 minutes.

      Turn off heat and transfer the peas to a large blender with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid in the pot. Pour half the liquid from the pot into the blender, place a folded towel on the blender lid, and pulse a few times to chop the peas. Then blend at high speed to puree. Add the remaining liquid from pot to the blender and liquefy the soup until smooth.

      Pour soup from blender into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and use a spatula to push the soup through the strainer, leaving the tough, fibrous material behind.

      Cool soup to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours.

      Season cold soup with salt and adjust cayenne pepper. Ladle soup into a serving bowl. Spoon crme fraiche into a plastic squeeze bottle and squeeze over the top of the soup in a loose spiral. Use a skewer to pull the spiral into flower petal shapes, starting from the middle and quickly pulling the skewer through the crme to make pointed petal shapes. Serve garnished with strips of fresh mint.

      Nutritional information (per serving): 84 calories; 3.6 g fat; 709 mg sodium; 9.4 g carbohydrate; 2.1g fiber; 2.8 g protein

      CHARLES PLATKIN, Ph.D., M.P.H., THE DIET DETECTIVE is one of the country's leading nutrition and public health advocates, whose syndicated health, nutrition and fitness column, the Diet Detective appears in more than 100 daily newspapers nationally. Dr. Platkin is also the founder of, which offers nutrition, food, and fitness information. Platkin is a health expert and blogger featured on, and Additionally, Platkin is a Distinguished Lecturer at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City. The information provided is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician.