52 Ingredients: Asparagus

Posted on March 25, 2014
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Asparagus gets a bad rap for being such an amazingly healthy vegetable. It’s not that asparagus isn’t delicious; it’s more the after effects of eating it that give it an unsavory reputation. But by not eating asparagus, one would miss the tender, gentle flavor that is just yearning for love and attention. So today, you get to find out why asparagus is totally awesome.

The Health Benefits of Asparagus

This green, stalky veggie is full of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and beta-carotene. It also has substantial amounts of vitamins B6, C, E and K.

When you eat asparagus, it’s not only looking out for you, but if you happen to be pregnant, it’s looking out for your baby too. According to an article on Medical News Today, asparagus has roughly half the recommended daily intake of folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects in babies and promote healthy brain development.

Another awesome quality about asparagus is that it acts as a diuretic, which helps keep your kidneys and your urinary tract in tip top shape. Hmm, smelly pee doesn’t seem like such an awful side effect if you’re flushing all the bad stuff out of your kidneys and staying healthy, now does it?

Another added benefit: Asparagus helps regulate blood sugar and is a great veggie choice for diabetics. This is all because it contains a rich source of B-vitamins. Asparagus also helps with inulin secretion in the large intestine which promotes better nutrient absorption, lowers risk of allergy development, and may prevent colon cancer.

How is Asparagus Grown?

Asparagus flourishes in areas where drought or cold weather can provide a resting time for the plants. You can plant asparagus anytime during the spring once soil has warmed up. It grows nicely in soil that isn’t too wet and drains well. On a commercial scale, asparagus are usually planted from one-year-old crowns where they mature for a couple of years before transplantation into their permanent growing bed. Once in their growing bed, asparagus will continuously provide a harvest each year.

Male plants are preferred over female plants since their stalks are bigger. They’re so much more highly preferred that most female plants are removed from the bed altogether. The female plants aren’t as large because they have to use energy to produce seeds. In this case, the ladies really do get the short end of the stalk. *Badoom tsss!*

Cooking with Asparagus

When prepping for lunch, dinner, or even second breakfast, check to see if you’ve got snapped or cut asparagus. Actually, I take that back. Do this at the store. The difference occurs during picking, where asparagus is either cut with a knife or “snapped” from the stalk. Snapped asparagus is pricier, but it doesn’t come with any of the tough, fibrous stalk whereas cut asparagus does. Before eating, that course, woody flesh has to be cut off and discarded. Why? Because you want to eat, not floss.

Asparagus is a pretty versatile vegetable in the ways that it can be cooked. It can be grilled, roasted, steamed, simmered or blanched. Most recipes call for asparagus as a side or an appetizer, but it can also be eaten as the entrée. This veggie is typically eaten in stalk form, but it can be chopped and used on pizza, in salads, in pastas, or pureed into a soup. Speaking of soup, check out this fantastic recipe for asparagus soup from Emeril Lagasse and enjoy yourself a bowl, or three.

Don’t forget to get some inspiration from these four asparagus recipes either!

Chicken and Asparagus Rolls
Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp
Grilled Asparagus with Pepper Zabaglione
Grilled Asparagus Subs with Smoky French Dressing

Do you have an asparagus recipe that you simply love? Let us know in the comments section.

photo credit: the_space_gibbon via photopin cc

Rachael Moyte Rachael Moyte (134 Posts)

Rachael is a writer in Denver, Colorado with an affinity for food and all things food-related. When she isn't writing or doing other foodie things, Rachael enjoys reading, hooping, tattoos, dancing, learning about herbs and natural living, and spending time with friends, her fiance, Michael and their two cats, Tip Toes and Pippin.

1 Reply to "52 Ingredients: Asparagus"

  • Jordan
    March 27, 2014 (11:23 am)

    I’m a sucker for any preparation of asparagus that gets the ends nice and crispy. Roasting with just a little salt/pepper/olive oil is prob my favourite, though.

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