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.
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).
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.
All asparagus photos by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2014 madlyinlovewithlife