Asparagus – Spears from the Market
Asparagus, a sure sign of spring and one of the first vegetables I notice at the farmer’s market!
Apart from it’s great taste and beautiful colour, asparagus offers a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. To be specific, asparagus contains vitamins K, A, some Bs, folate and iron. It also contains many antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, some zinc, manganese and selenium, and a good amount of another antioxidant nutrient called glutathione. These nutrients help to neutralize the effects of free radicals in the body.
Asparagus also contains inulin, which is a nutrient that acts as a “prebiotic”. In the large intestine, inulin serves as a food source for some of the healthy bacteria in our gut. These bacteria work hard to maintain our gut and support absorption, digestion and immune health. And let’s not forget about fiber. Asparagus provides both soluble and insoluble fiber, also important for good digestion.
Asparagus offers a good amount of folate and a nonheme, or plant form, of iron. Folate helps in the formation of red blood cells and is important during periods of rapid growth and development, such as pregnancy, infancy and early childhood. Iron is needed for the formation of the oxygen carrying component of our red blood cells, therefore important for the transportation of oxygen in our body.
Asparagus can be enjoyed in many different ways. It can be added to salads, roasted, grilled, sautéed or added to an omelette. It can also be sautéed with garlic, olive oil and whole grain pasta, and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, for an easy mid-week dinner.
My family prefers it roasted or grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon to finish it off.
The next time you find yourself at the farmer’s market, pick-up a bunch of asparagus and give it a try. But do not delay, for it will not last!
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Simply rinse and snap off the asparagus’ tougher ends and place in a glass baking dish in a single layer. Top with sliced red onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and rub oil over spears and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Roast @ 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the spears are tender enough to pierce with a fork. Add a squeeze lemon to taste before serving.