Asparagus is In Season Now

In Season Nowasparagus spears

Spring has arrived (finally in Michigan) and with it comes lovely vegetables like asparagus. Over the years this green spear has grown on me tremendously. So what makes this veggie so great? Here are the nutrition facts, and great preparation ideas!

Asparagus Nutrition

As with most non-starchy vegetables, there are barely any calories in an average serving. Each spear has a measly 4 calories. Even though it is so low on calories, it is packed with healthful nutrients. A 5.3 ounce serving has 3 grams of fiber (about one tenth of the daily recommendation.) Folic acid is abundant in asparagus; each serving has about 60% the daily recommended value. Asparagus is one of the best sources for the antioxidant glutathione, which is involved with cancer prevention and DNA synthesis.

Storage and Preparation Tips

Asparagus can be stir-fried, boiled, microwaved, grilled, steamed, or cooked any other way you like it. The preparation time ranges from four to eight minutes depending on cooking method, desired tenderness, and diameter of spears. For best quality asparagus, clean and dry spears and keep in refrigerator for two to three days after picking. To maintain firmness and freshness keep ends in about two inches of water or wrap in moist paper towel (same can be done for celery.)

Grilled Asparagus

Trim the bottom ends of the asparagus off. Wash and dry spears well. Place in a container that can be sealed tightly. Add olive oil to coat spears lightly. Use the juice of one half (or whole) lemon, depending on volume of asparagus used. Careful, the acid from the lemon juice could turn your veggie from bright green to brown (the taste will not be that different, but food should be appealing!) Place spears on a medium high heated grill. Turn occasionally to prevent burning. I like to grill my spears until they are crispy on the outside and tender in the center. Since the sun is finally out here in Michigan, I know what I am making for dinner tonight!

NOTE: Nutrition recommendations vary based on age, sex, weight, and medical condition. Check the USDA website for specifics.

Sources: Michigan Asparagus Advisory, California Department of Public Health

Image Credit to Creative Commons user: Esteban Cavrico

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