Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Asparagus: A Minor Love Affair

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If I could eat asparagus every day of my life, I would. I mean, for starters, it's freakin' cute. It comes in a compact bunch... it's my favorite color... it has such lovely details on the end of its spears... it tastes fantastic. What's not to like? Now I admit, I sound nuts, but just ask Adam and he will confirm that I am preaching the truth here! I make a bee-line for asparagus just about every time we walk into the market. Long live asparagus! And yes, I'll take seconds!

Not only is asparagus tasty and good-lookin', but I'm happy to tell you that it's fantastic for your insides! Here's why...

CANCER FIGHTING - Asparagus contains many antioxidants, among them glutathione, which has been referred to as 'the mother of all antioxidants'. This antioxidant actually attracts toxins and free radicals, then removes them from the body. The anti-inflammatory compounds in asparagus also help to prevent cancer.

HEART HELPING - The fiber and B vitamins (among them, folate) in asparagus can help lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

FLUID BALANCING - The high potassium content in asparagus helps to maintain the fluid balance inside the cells and tissues. Potassium is also essential in maintaining the activities of the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

DIGESTION SUPPORTING - The nutrient inulin (not to be confused with insulin) in asparagus passes undigested through the intestinal tract on its way to the large intestine, where it feeds the friendly bacteria that helps in nutrient absorption.

CELL GROWING - Just 1 cup of asparagus provides approximately 70% of your daily value of vitamin K, which is essential in cell growth, bone mineralization and blood clotting.

Now asparagus can be cooked in many different ways, but I'd like to share my favorite way with you now...

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. After washing the asparagus well, cut off the hard ends and then slice the spears in half.
Grab your army of spices. I suggest sea salt (or regular salt), pepper and garlic salt or garlic powder.
On a grill pan (or regular saute pan), heat 1-2 Tbs. of olive oil on medium-high heat, add the asparagus and lightly season with your army of spices (you can always add more later once you taste it).

Press down on the asparagus as it cooks so it starts to get the 'grilled effect'. After it starts to soften and becomes a deeper shade of green (approximately 5 minutes), remove from the heat and put the whole grill pan in the oven (ONLY IF your pan is oven-safe). If not, just lightly spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and evenly space the asparagus on the pan.
Roast the asparagus on 450 degrees until it starts to shrivel (approx. 5-10 minutes). It will look like the picture above.
Serve it up as a side. It goes great with fish and it's SOOOO easy!

Here are a few other recipes to get your wheels turning...

Sometimes the oddest combinations end up surprising you! She raves about this one!
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