Apr 262011

asparagus grilled Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It leads nearly all produce items in the wide array of nutrients it supplies, in significant amounts, for a healthy diet. Asparagus is quite frankly one of nature’s most nutritious and perfect foods.

I always think of asparagus around Easter. Like clockwork those sexy, slender stalks appear; crisp and fresh, and so inviting. Buying it fresh, in springtime, it is particularly nutritious. Besides being extremely versatile and uniquely delicious, check out the nutrition and health benefits of asparagus.

Nutrition and health benefits of asparagus:

  • Asparagus balances insulin levels, which means it can help prevent diabetes.
  • Asparagus in a natural diuretic, aiding in detoxification and cleansing of the kidneys.
  • Contains no fat or cholesterol and is very low in sodium.
  • A good source of potassium, folate, thiamine, vitamin A, B6, and calcium.
  • Contains glutathione (GSH), one of the most potent anti carcinogens and antioxidants found within the body.

Asparagus Nutrition summary

There are only 27 calories in one cup of Asparagus, 5.2 grams of carbs, 2.9 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.
This is one powerful food!

How to buy/choose asparagus:

Even in spring take care to look for tight compact heads, and firm unwrinkled stalks. Although many people prefer the thicker stalks, depending on use, many times it means they have been harvested too late, and can be bitter or stringy.

How to store asparagus:

It’s best to eat asparagus the day you buy it, as the flavor can begin to fade as time passes. If you are not planning to eat it within 2-3 days, wrap ends in a damp paper towel, or place the base end in an inch of water to keep it fresh and hydrated. Invert a Ziploc over the top and watch it grow!

How to prepare asparagus for use:

Thick vs. thin stalks: With either, you must first break off the woody bottoms. Hold the stalk with both hands and gently snap it. Amazingly they snap off in about the right place every time. For very thick stalks you may have to peel the stem end by giving it a few strokes with a vegetable peeler.

Now you are ready for grilling, poaching, roasting, sautéing, steaming, stir frying, or dipping. And don’t forget the soup. The ways to use asparagus are endless.

Try these nutritious tips on how to prepare asparagus:

  • Add asparagus to your risotto after the stock has been absorbed. Finish with fresh parmesan cheese.
  • Roast it – Toss thick spears with olive oil, and garlic. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, and drizzle with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Roast at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
  • Grill it – Coat spears with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Turn frequently, and serve hot with fresh parmesan, or wrap 5-6 spears in bacon or pancetta, and grill bundles until asparagus is tender and bacon is crisp.
  • Steam it – Bring about ½ inch water to boil and add asparagus. Cook for 2-3 minutes until bright green, and drain. Add butter lemon, and zest to pan. Cook for 1 minute, and return asparagus to coat, or refresh immediately with ice cold water and serve chilled with vinaigrette.
  • Stir fry – Cut into 1 inch pieces and add in the last one minute of your favorite stir fry to maintain the fresh and crisp taste. Peppers, mushrooms, carrots, shallots, and garlic are also excellent. Add shrimp or chicken, your favorite sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

If you are concerned about calories try this low-fat, yet delicious asparagus quiche.

asparagus quiche

1 1/2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed
2 1/2 c. nonfat cottage cheese
4 oz. part-skim Mozzarella cheese
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 c. fresh parsley
1 egg
3 egg whites
1 tsp. mustard
1 1/2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Coat 10 inch quiche pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces. Steam until tender, about 5 minutes. Cool and chop. Puree cottage cheese, Mozzarella, onion, parsley, egg, egg whites and mustard in processor. Fold in chopped asparagus. Pour into prepared quiche pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour or until set. Serves 8. Only 120 calories per serving and 3 grams of fat!

Last but not least, try The Soup, from Emeril Lagasse

Its official – Spring is here. Eat Well ~ Be Healthy

Click if you like Asparagus

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