Asparagus is probably one of the most famous side dish to our favorite main courses like steak, salmon, and chicken. It is one of the more pricey vegetables out there. It’s not a known fact, but there are actually 12 types of asparagus.
The best part of the Asparagus is its tips, the younger the asparagus the better it tastes. You can tell the age of the plant by the thickness of its stems. The thicker the stem the older the Asparagus, although, still palatable when the tougher outer skin is peeled.
The King of Vegetables
Asparagus has been long revered by royalty through the ages. Roman emperor, Augustus actually had an “Asparagus Fleet”, a fleet of ships whose main reason for existence was to locate and bring back this vegetable for him. And he’s not the only royalty who adored them, King Louis XIV of France declared it the “King of Vegetables” while Queen Neferititi declared it to the be “Food of the Gods”.
Historically, there are claims that asparagus has aphrodisiac properties most probably because of its shape.
The Rock star Treatment
The fame of asparagus is not just in history books. In fact, there are festivals that are held in honor of the king in recent times.
In Sacramento and Michigan, there are annual festivals to celebrate this vegetable complete with an “Asparagus parade” and the crowing of an “Asparagus Queen”. In Worcestershire, they have an annual “British Asparagus Festival” which has crop auctions, an “Asparagus Run”, and even a weekend “Asparfest” music.
In Germany, the town of Schwetzingen claims to be the asparagus capital of the world. Every May of each year, they have a festival named “Spargelfest”. The festival honors the growers of the heaviest stalk as the Spargel King or Queen.
Asparagus Nutritional Value
Asparagus is low in calorie and is a very good source of dietary fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6, C, E, K, calcium, magnesium, protein, beta-carotene, Thiamin, Riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and Chromium to name a few.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
We know it’s packed with good stuff. But what do these contribute to our body and wellbeing? Well, read on and be amazed my friend!
Helps Control Insulin, Aids Metabolism and Helps You Lose Weight
Asparagus is also a good source of Chromium which will help our body process insulin and also helps in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. It’s also known to reduce hunger, cravings, and binge eating.
Helps Fight Cancer
Asparagus is also a rich source of Glutathione, a.k.a Mother of All Antioxidants, is a detoxifying compound that aids breaks down carcinogens and other free radicals. So it may help protect you against and fight certain cancers such as breast, bone, colon, larynx, and lung cancers.
Being rich in folate, asparagus also helps fight Cognitive Decline especially when paired with Vitamin B12 that is found in fish and chicken which is usually the main course asparagus is served with.
Asparagus also has high levels of the amino acid, asparagine, and a natural diuretic. Asparagine helps the body release fluid and rids the body of excess salts. This is beneficial for people suffering from edema, high-blood pressure, or other heart-related diseases.
Helps with Hangovers
It is said that eating asparagus helps ease hangovers and protects the liver from the toxicity of alcohol. Its diuretic qualities may also help the body get rid of alcohol through urine.
Great but Not Perfect
As they say nobody is perfect, this applies to Asparagus as well. There’s only two, so all in all it’s still a win to have this vegetable in your diet.
After eating asparagus, you’ll notice that your pee will smell a bit funky. This is due to the breakdown of the asparagusic acid into sulfur-containing compounds upon digestion. It’s a small price to pay for all the good stuff it gives you. Not a bad deal, right?
Allergies and Fructan Intolerance
Some people may be allergic to asparagus. Specifically those allergic to the alliceae vegetable family such as garlic, onions, chives and leeks.
Asparagus also contains Fructan, a type of carbohydrate. Although intolerance to fructan is common but is often misdiagnosed since symptoms are similar to gluten intolerance. So if eating a few stalks gives you stomach pains, maybe it’s not for you.
Simple Ways to Cook Asparagus
There are various ways to enjoy this king of a vegetable.
Stir-Fry with Asparagus
Stir-frying is fast which preserves the nutrients of its ingredients. Here are some simple stir-fry recipes you can try at home.
Simple Asparagus stir-fry
Simply sauté some garlic and shallots in a pan, then add salt. Once fragrant, add the asparagus along with a few tablespoons of stock. Stir-fry for a few minutes then serve.
Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus
Here’s the recipe from skinnytaste.com
Bake it in the Oven
In an oven safe pan, line up asparagus and drizzle them with olive oil. Then season with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
Use your favorite batter or tempura batter and fry them until golden brown. Serve with your favorite dip.
Make it into Soup
Boil asparagus with garlic and a bit of salt. Once soft, put them in a blender and pulse until pureed. Put back in the pot and add cream. If it’s too thick, add chicken stock to loosen. Add parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and preferred herbs.
Make a Healthy Pizza
Simply put some seasoned asparagus (with oil, salt and pepper), on top your self-made pizza and pop it in the oven.
Make It a Part of Your Salad
Simply cut asparagus, blanche them, and add them to your salad or pasta salad
Best Vegetable Ever (Arguably)
With its taste, nutritional value, graceful stature, and reputation – I can totally agree that it deserves a top spot in the vegetable kingdom.