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Asparagus

April 4, 2015

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By Darci Barman

The quintessential spring vegetable – Asparagus! What’s there not to like about the simple asparagus? It’s rich in a class of phytonutrients known as saponins that are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant in nature, giving the liver the extra ‘boost’ it needs to detoxify the body from the long winter. In addition to saponins, it also contains quercetin, kaempferol and other anti-inflammatory nutrients associated with immune function, keeping those spring allergies at bay.

Asparagus ranks as high as cruciferous vegetables on the scale of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its rich source of antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E and minerals zinc, manganese and selenium. It’s also one of the richest sources of glutathione, an amino acid trio that has the most aggressive free-radical scavenging properties of all other antioxidants.

Lastly, thanks to asparagus’ unique fiber, inulin, it is also a great digestive aid. Often referred to as a “prebiotic”, inulin remains intact throughout the digestive process until it reaches the large intestine and becomes a source of food for certain bacteria. The bacteria it feeds are associated with better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy and colon cancer. Asparagus is also a good source of protein for a vegetable, containing 4-5 grams per cup. Combined with it’s unique fiber content, asparagus makes a great choice for optimal blood sugar regulation.

Asparagus is high in naturally occurring purines. If you are at risk for (or have) uric acid kidney stones or gout, be mindful of your asparagus intake.

Fun Fact:  White asparagus is grown underground to prevent the formation of green chlorophyll. It is slightly sweeter than green asparagus and considered a true delicacy!

 

Spring Mini-Omelets

These mini-omelets are perfect for chaotic mornings – just grab and go and reheat at work. They are rich in protein, fiber and nutrients to support your stress response.

Makes 1 dozenInland NW Food Network - Eat Local

9 eggs
1 ½ cups whole-milk ricotta
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup asparagus tips, cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh mushrooms

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whip eggs. Add ricotta and herbs and whip again. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onions, sauté 3 minutes, add garlic, sauté until fragrant, add asparagus and sauté another minute. Lastly, add mushrooms and sauté until asparagus and mushrooms are soft.
  4. Evenly distribute cooked vegetables into lightly-greased muffin tins and cover with egg batter.
  5. Place in preheated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes. Eggs are done when they have puffed up and remain solid when shaken. Remove and let cool.

 

Garlicky Asparagus

If you’ve never cooked asparagus before, this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it simply. You can add any of your favorite seasonings as well.

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Wash asparagus and trim the woody ends – either by bending at the end until they snap or roughly chopping the bottom inch or two off.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet at medium-low. For a lower-fat version, you can use bone broth instead of oil (about a ¼ cup will do).

Once oil is hot, add asparagus and sauté gently for 4-7 minutes until asparagus spears are bright green and soft. The ideal asparagus spear keeps its shape and still has a slight crunch.

 Article and recipes by Darci Barman, MSN, RDN, LD, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practicing “foods-first”, integrative and functional nutrition at Pilgrim’s Wellness Clinic, located inside Pilgrim’s Market in Coeur d’Alene, ID.  For more information, see www.darcibarman.com

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