Superfood of the Week: Asparagus

Asparagus is not the most glamorous of vegetables, thanks to it’s less than pleasing texture and aroma. However, this stalky green is stock full of mood and body boosting nutrients. Asparagus is high in folic acid, potassium, fiber, thiamin and vitamins A, B6 and C. The high source of potassium in asparagus proves to be a natural diuretic and just one serving of asparagus provides 60% of folic acid.

So why is folate and folic acid so important? Folate is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and helps regulate the levels of homocysteine [an essential amino acid] in the body. Elevations in homocysteine are found in almost 50% of patients with heart disease, and it is estimated that having at least 400 mcg of folate daily would reduce the number of heart attacks in America by almost 10%.

Along with providing our bodies with the necessary amino acids to help ward of heart attacks, asparagus also contains inulin, which helps to produce healthy bacteria in the our intestinal tract. Diets that contain the right amount of inulin allow for healthy growth and activity of this bacteria, which works to fight off unhealthy bacteria that is commonly found in people with intestinal difficulties.

So dig in and take a bit of this fantastic stalk! If you aren’t a fan of raw veggies, try one of the recipes below to incorporate this superfood in your diet! My favorite asparagus recipe is so simple. I just steam it then drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper! Yum!

Asparagus and Parmesan

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  • Directions

  • Combine the asparagus and water in a 10 inch skillet and place over medium heat; cover. Allow the asparagus to steam until tender, about 10 minutes; drain. Reduce heat to low and return the skillet to the heat. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Add the grape tomatoes to the skillet and replace the lid. Allow to sit covered until the cheese melts and the tomatoes are slightly steamed, about 2 minutes.
  • Asparagus Soup [courtesy of www.allrecipes.com]

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Directions

    1. Place asparagus and onion in a saucepan with 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender.
    2. Reserve a few asparagus tips for garnish. Place remaining vegetable mixture in an electric blender and puree until smooth.
    3. Melt butter in the pan that was used for simmering the asparagus and onions. Stir while sprinkling flour, salt, and pepper into the butter. Do not let the flour brown. Allow the mixture to cook only 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.
    4. Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the saucepan. Whisk yogurt into the mixture, followed by lemon juice. Stir until heated through, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

    Asparagus Salad

    • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cooked, or 1 1/2 (15-ounce) cans whole green asparagus spears
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
    • Black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
    • 1 (0.7-ounce) package Italian salad dressing mix, prepared according to package directions
    • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
    • Lettuce leaves
    • Mayonnaise

    Directions

    Drain the asparagus and layer it in a shallow glass dish. Sprinkle each layer with some crumbled tarragon, pepper, to taste, and garlic salt. Pour the salad dressing and vinegar over the asparagus, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled asparagus on lettuce leaves, topped with a dollop of mayonnaise flavored with a little of the dressing.

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    ~ by therealnutritionist on March 25, 2010.

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