Asparagus is finally starting to come into season and you know as soon as farmers' markets open, it will be all over the place. So we're going to geek out about one of my favorite veggie today.
Asparagus was originally found growing on Mediterranean hillsides, and recipes date back to late fourth-century Rome and Apicius Book III, one of the oldest known cookbooks. Early American colonists referred to asparagus as a “food of kings”.
Although farmers in California, Washington, and Michigan grow substantial quantities, the U.S. is the world’s largest importer of asparagus, with much of it coming from China and Peru. We love our asparagus, and for good reason.
One serving of asparagus - 5 stalks - contains 3 grams of fiber and 60% of your recommended daily intake of folic acid which is essential for mental and physical health. Folic acid is known to prevent birth defects in developing fetuses and is an essential part of key enzymes and neurotransmitters.
Asparagus also contains glutathione, the major detoxifying antioxidant in your liver.
One stalk contains fewer than 4 calories, making it a great tasting, low calorie addition to any meal.
Asparagus contains a unique type of soluble fiber called fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which goes undigested until it reaches your large intestine. From there, it serves as food for the good bacteria that lives in your gut and helps improve your digestive health. Because of its unique ability to support the growth of beneficial bacteria, scientists have even started putting FOS in infant formula.
In addition to improving digestion, FOS can help lower triglycerides, decreasing your risk for cardiovascular disease, and improve your body’s ability to absorb minerals from your diet.
Nature’s Hangover Cure
Asparagus is the perfect food to have the day after a night out with friends.
A 2009 study from the Journal of Food Science found that asparagus can boost, by 200%, the effectiveness of two key alcohol-metabolizing enzymes in your liver. In addition, asparagus can help replenish your body’s supply of glutathione, which gets used up quickly by your liver after you have a couple of drinks.
How To Pick Asparagus
The thicker the stalk, the more tender it will be. Make sure the tips are closed and compact; these are signs of freshness, which will lead to better taste.
Hot and Steamy
Cook the stalks in a pan filled with about two inches of boiling water for up to about 6 minutes, or until they become tender (but not overly tender). Empty the water from the pan and then top the asparagus with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little extra-virgin olive oil for the perfect complement to a salmon filet or grilled steak.
Stir It Up
Stir-frying asparagus is another fast and easy way to get this power food in your diet. Cut the asparagus stalks diagonally into 2-inch pieces and sauté them in a nonstick pan over medium heat with sesame oil, fresh ginger, and a splash of soy sauce or coconut aminos.
You can make this a complete meal by adding sliced mushrooms, chicken breast strips, and steamed brown rice.
So go ahead and pick some up and enjoy!