It’s green, woody and makes your pee smell funny. Asparagus may not be everyone’s favourite vegetable, but it definitely deserves a second look this spring! We've brought together everything you need to know to help you enjoy this seasonal veggie.
While green asparagus is the most common type found in the grocery store, there are actually three varieties – green, white and purple. Purple asparagus is genetically modified to produce a purple pigment called anthocyanin, while green and white asparagus occur naturally. The difference? White asparagus is grown in the absence of sunlight and lacks chlorophyll, the green pigment produced during photosynthesis. Whichever you choose, all varieties of asparagus are delicious and nutrient-rich.
How to choose and store asparagus...
When grocery shopping, ensure freshness by choosing asparagus that's firm and uniform in colour. The stalks should be free of brown spots.
The best way to store asparagus is in the refrigerator. To prolong shelf-life, trim the stem of each stalk and place the bundle in a jar containing an inch of water. Loosely cover the bunch with a plastic bag. This storage method can keep your asparagus firm and fresh for up to two weeks in the fridge!
Why we love it...
Asparagus boasts an impressive nutritional profile. It's a great source of fibre, with 2 grams per 6 spears, which helps support healthy digestion, and keeps you feeling full for longer. Additionally, asparagus is a source of folate, potassium, thiamine, vitamin C and vitamin K. In fact, just 6 spears of asparagus contain almost 40% of your daily vitamin K needs for blood-clotting and bone health.
Perhaps the most impressive nutrition quality of asparagus is it's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help protect us against harmful free radicals that cause oxidative stress in the body, which has been associated with many chronic illnesses. Foods rich in antioxidants, like asparagus, prevent this oxidative stress, which in turn protects us from related diseases.
Asparagus is an extremely versatile vegetable. It can be prepared simply by blanching or steaming, and is delicious when pan-fried, grilled, or oven-roasted. Just drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before cooking for a flavourful side dish. And did you know asparagus can also be eaten raw? Add raw asparagus ribbons as a tasty addition to your next salad!
Whether it’s cooked or raw, green, white or purple, asparagus is a delicious, nutrition-packed veggie. Read on for our 5 favourite recipes using asparagus to make sure you enjoy this seasonal veggie while it lasts:
1. Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Tilapia
This 30 minute recipe from Damn Delicious does not sacrifice flavour! We love how simple this meal is to make, and our dietitians love the tasty roasted sheet pan veggies. With minimal chopping and preparation time (we even used frozen fish), this dinner is a perfect weeknight meal.
2. Shrimp Scampi Pasta with Asparagus
This Shrimp Scampi Pasta recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen is ready in under 30 minutes, making it the perfect weeknight meal.The use of lemon, herbs, and garlic give this recipe a light and fresh flavour, and our dietitians love the use of asparagus and shrimp to balance out this pasta dish.
3. Asparagus and Brie Grilled cheese
Grilled cheese. Need we say more? This recipe from Kara Lydon, The Foodie Dietitian, is perfect for those days when you're looking for some comfort food but still want to get your veggies in. Brie cheese gives this sandwich a delicious creamy texture, and the addition of asparagus helps keep things balanced.
4. Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken with Asparagus
We love this recipe from Well Plated. Using a sheet pan cuts down on time needed to do dishes, and including both asparagus and mini potatoes with the lemon chicken keeps this dish balanced. Bake it in the oven or toss it on the BBQ for a simple weeknight meal.
5. Chicken Asparagus Stir Fry
Think from-scratch meals are time consuming or complicated? Not with this recipe from Inside Karen's Kitchen. This stir fry is perfect for a busy weeknight. It's loaded with veggies and protein, and comes together in only 30 minutes. You'll never need to buy pre-made sauce again!
About the contributor...
Madeline is a student in the Food and Nutrition program at Ryerson University in Toronto (class of 2020). She has a previous degree in Health Studies from Queen’s University. She has a passion for plant-based, whole food eating and a keen interest in food intolerances and restrictive diets (vegan, gluten-free, etc.). Madeline plans to become a Registered Dietitian when she finishes school and hopes to help her clients discover the joys of healthy eating!
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