Monday, May 18, 2015

In Season This Week: Asparagus

Spring has sprung with fresh asparagus. These spears grow well in sandy soil and just 1 cup contains 67% of your daily recommended amount of folate. Eating the recommended 400 mcg of folate daily can decrease your risk of stroke by 20% and cardiovascular disease by 13%. Some studies have also shown reduced progression of plaque formation in arteries.

Regular asparagus contains a high amount of chlorophyll which gives it a vibrant green color. Purple asparagus is a different variety and contains high levels of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant which can help prevent cancer. Purple asparagus is typically sweeter, more tender, and fruitier in taste as well.

White asparagus is regarded as a delicacy. Limited supplies result in nearly twice the price as regular asparagus; the main difference being white varieties are grown in the dark with no sunlight. Due to the deprivation of light white asparagus is also milder in flavor and more tender than regular varieties. 

During digestion sulfurous amino acids break down within 15 minutes of eating asparagus. This smelly chemical is to blame when your restroom visit becomes more odorous than usual. Rest assure this is harmless.

One cup of asparagus has merely 30 calories, making it a stellar nutrient packed side dish. It contains a good amount of fiber, folate, vitamin A, C, E, and K. Asparagus contains inulin, a prebiotic to support healthy gut bacteria. It is also packed with glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that prevents cell damage.

Plant based foods should make up the majority of our meals, and that is easy with the fresh taste of asparagus this season. Enjoy all colorful vegetables and consider the recipe below for an easy spring side dish. 

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes Recipe
Serves: 4
70 calories per serving

1 lb asparagus, trimmed
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
3 tbs crumbled goat cheese
1/2 tsp black pepper

Place asparagus in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic, Cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, cook 3 minutes.
Arrange asparagus on a platter and top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper.

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