It’s December and that means some serious holiday meal planning. And while you are deciding what delectable dishes will grace your table this holiday season, why not consider adding some asparagus? Asparagus is one of the most incredible superfoods foods on the planet.
It is literally a vitamin pill contained in a vegetable! It beats just about all fruits and vegetables in the vast array of nutrients it supplies. Asparagus gives you a variety of nutrients such as selenium, zinc, calcium, copper, manganese, and folate. And it has an extremely high nutrient-per-calorie ratio which makes it a fantastic weight-loss food. Nice to know especially since this is the time of year when people tend to gain weight!
And the news gets better! Asparagus contains powerful compounds that have been shown to promote cellular rejuvenation, have anti-cancer properties, and are healing to the liver and blood vessels.
The asparagus plant is a very old and has been cultivated for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans valued it. In fact, it was so valuable to the ancient Greeks that the wealthy would pay chariot drivers to bring frozen asparagus from the snow-covered Alps back to Greece when fresh asparagus was not available. Now that’s dedication!
Asparagus has been grown in America since colonial times, and even here, it was only available in season. Fortunately, we do not have to go to those lengths today because modern growing, shipping, and refrigeration methods have allowed us to enjoy asparagus year-round.
When it comes to asparagus, size does not matter, but freshness does! Asparagus has a short shelf life once it is picked, and this is a good thing because this makes it very easy to tell if it is not fresh and losing its nutrients. Here’s what to look for when buying fresh:
- If the rubber band indents the spears, it is not fresh
- If the tips are odorous or look wet or slimy, it has become bad
I avoid the freshness issue entirely, because I like to buy my asparagus frozen. And I love it because I can enjoy just as much or as little as I want with no waste! For you gardeners out there, why not grow your own? Did you know that if you plant an asparagus crown in your garden and allow it to develop a strong root system for three years, it could produce plants every summer for around 15 years without replanting? You can’t get fresher than that!
Asparagus is really easy to prepare, as it becomes soft with just 10 minutes or less in the steamer, and cooking it this way will retain most of its vital nutrients. I find it to be so flavorful on its own, but I also like to add a squirt of lemon and a sprinkle of pecans. Yum! To your good health!