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Seeking Inspiration

April 26, 2017

By Joanne Gardner, MS, RDN, LDN

What’s for dinner tonight? Have you fallen into a routine of repetitive meals that are beginning to feel boring?  Do your cruise through the grocery store and pick up the same things visit after visit. Is it time to branch out and try something new?   With springtime new growth bursting forth, it seems appropriate to infuse meals with fresh variety and flavorful ingredients. Where will that inspiration come from? I’ve noticed that traveling spurs me to shift my eating. After venturing to Coastal Ecuador I shifted towards more creative fish and salsa combinations. A trip to Bali inspired me to try Indonesian Sambal. Within the USA our urban centers are brimming with innovative restaurants and we can return home inspired after a weekend in Charlotte or Charleston.

If food tasting travel is not on your calendar where might you get inspiration? Consider subscribing to a food based magazine that is delivered monthly. It is a special treat to receive my Clean Eating magazine and browse the pages. I fold down corners or flag appealing recipes. Even if I don’t make the recipes, the photos portray combinations and preparation methods that I can incorporate into my meal planning.

The local markets may be a great source of inspiration. For example, if you pick up some fresh pea shoots from the Farmer’s market you are likely to include them in an innovative salad or tuck them into a flavorful sandwich or wrap. Bye bye boring! As we shop in local markets our produce bags will reflect the freshest of the season. It will shift from leafy greens and hardy roots, to peas and beans, then squashes, tomatoes and peppers. Each category of vegetable will call for different flavor enhancements.

When you get stumped you can browse online for a recipe with the ingredient you’d like to use.  If you are seeking a new idea for asparagus, try this version of Triple Sesame Roasted Asparagus served with baked tofu, grilled tuna or a turkey burger.


  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 TBS sesame tahini
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TBS honey
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or ground black pepper
  • 1 TBS sesame seeds


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash asparagus and pat dry. Snap off the tough, thick end part of each stalk. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleanup, if desired. Spread asparagus out on ungreased baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the top of the asparagus. Place in the oven.

Roast the asparagus for 12-15 minutes. You will know they’re done when the asparagus turns bright green, the stems are tender, and the tips of the asparagus begin to get crisp. Small or very thin stalks may take less than 12 minutes to roast.

While the asparagus is roasting, make the sauce. In a small microwavable bowl, whisk together tahini, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and cayenne till smooth. You may warm it for 30 seconds in the microwave and whisk again.

Drizzle the roasted asparagus with the sesame sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm or at room temperature.



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