Ode to Asparagus

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Succulent Green Spears

I love this time of year, when the earliest of our locally grown produce becomes available at our farmers markets. If you aren’t lucky enough (like some people I know) to grow your own asparagus or to have access to them in your mother’s garden, the next best thing is to find some fresh locally grown asparagus at the farmers market.

The arrival of the asparagus contains the promise of summer and heralds the beginning of the outrageous bounty that will soon follow. These beautiful succulent green shoots turn up in the markets in mid-May, just as the last of the previous season’s local root vegetables disappear from the stands. Happily, for the next six weeks or so, the markets are chock-full of gorgeous, incredibly fresh (picked the night before), locally grown asparagus. There is always an air of excitement when we spot the first ones.

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A Healthy Spring Tonic

Asparagus are one of my all-time favourite foods. Nothing tastes more satisfying after a long winter than that first feed of fresh asparagus in the spring. And, as if deliciousness is not enough, asparagus happen to be jam-packed with nutritional goodness. I just love it when I crave and truly enjoy eating something I also know is super healthy.

Asparagus contain a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the minerals zinc, manganese and selenium. They are an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2, as well as a very good source of niacin, choline, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. B vitamins are vital for the proper metabolism of sugars and starches and are necessary for healthy blood sugar management.

Asparagus are also valuable as a digestive support, containing the “prebiotic” inulin, which aids in maintaining the beneficial bacterial flora in the large intestine. Asparagus are high in fibre, both soluble and insoluble, and also contain a surprising amount of protein, about 3 to 4 grams per cup (Source: World’s Healthiest Foods).

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Garden Fresh, Lightly Steamed…

There’s no doubt that asparagus are a superfood. But we devour them because they are sooooo delicious! We like to enjoy our asparagus lightly steamed with a dab of butter and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Occasionally, we’ll add a dusting of fresh, finely grated Grana Padano cheese.

Have I mentioned how much I love asparagus? We’ll be gorging on these sweet, tender, succulent shoots until the season ends. If my skin starts to turn green, I’ll know why.

 

Image Credits:

All asparagus photos by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2014 madlyinlovewithlife

8 thoughts on “Ode to Asparagus

    • Thanks, Takami. We feel fortunate to have at least five excellent farmers markets here in Calgary, open all year round. The Canadian prairies have some of the richest agricultural soil in the world, and the long summer days at this latitude allow for a short but intensely prolific growing season (marked by the arrival of the first local asparagus). Already, there are other things, like fresh pea shoots and greenhouse basil and other young greens, and each week more and more things arrive. For the rest of the summer and into the fall, the farmers markets will be bursting with fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables. The incredible bounty of our summer produce certainly compensates for our long winters. :))

  1. Wonderful Jeannie…I too love asparagus and luckily mom has a big patch growing in her garden..One of the many things I look forward to in spring…Hope your having a great week…Take care my friend…..Sam..

    • Thanks, Sam! You were one of those fortunate people I was thinking of… so lucky to be able to raid your Mom’s aparagus patch. It doesn’t get any fresher or better than that! Have a wonderful week! :))

  2. I like to par-boil it, cool it, and serve it over salad greens, usually with a piece of grilled chicken or salmon. It’s so yummy and is a definite staple in our diets. I usually shop for the smaller, thinner, stalks, preferring them to the larger ones. But, it’s all good.

    • Oh, that’s a wonderful preparation! We love asparagus that way too. And chicken or salmon with asparagus is also our favourite match, they complement each other so perfectly. Mmmmm… Now I’m hungry again. :))

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