Asparagus – The Spring Veggie Loaded With Health Benefits!!
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Despite our wishy-washy weather, and winter’s desperate attempt to hang on, asparagus is still right on time!! A few sure signs of spring around here are the appearance of asparagus and strawberries, both of which have made it to the Farmers Market this weekend!! Asparagus has quickly become a favorite spring vegetable of many.
Asparagus is impressive nutritionally; it has virtually zero fat, is low in calories (only 20 per every 5 spears), and is packed with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals! It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, all-important for the transport of insulin, good news if you are watching your blood sugar!! It contains the cancer-fighting glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful free radicals. Asparagus is topped ranked for its ability to help slow the aging process and reduce inflammation. Because of its anti-aging property, it may also help our brains fight cognitive decline! Finally, it is a natural diuretic, it aids in the release of fluid, which helps rid the body of excess salts!
There are so many simple ways to cook and enjoy eating asparagus, here are just a few!!
Lemon Roasted Asparagus
|1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed|
|2 tbsp olive oil|
|2 cloves garlic, minced|
|2 tbsp Parmesan, grated|
|1 lemon, thinly sliced|
|2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (approx. 1 lemon)|
|½ tsp sea salt|
|¼ tsp ground black pepper|
- Preheat your oven to 400° F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the asparagus, lemon slices, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sea salt, ground black pepper, minced garlic, and Parmesan cheese to the baking sheet.
- Toss to evenly coat.
- Place in the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp on the outside and tender in the center.
Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 118, Fat 8.8g. Cholesterol 5g., Sodium 339mg., Carbohydrates 7g., Protein 5g.
From the Blue Zones:
Spicy Black Beans & Roasted Asparagus
|½ cup brown rice|
|1 bunch asparagus|
|1 cup no salt added black beans|
|½ tsp. chili powder|
|½ tsp. cumin|
|½ tsp. garlic powder|
|½ cup low-sodium salsa|
|2 tbsp. cilantro|
|Optional for taste: cayenne pepper, black pepper, hot sauce|
- Cook the rice. Add the dry rice to a pot. You will need 2.5 times as much water as rice. Add water to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-45 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is soft. Check on the rice periodically to prevent any sticking or burning on the bottom. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and enjoy!
- Heat the oven to 425° F. Rinse asparagus, and trim off any tough ends. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 5-10 minutes, flip, and roast for another 5-10 minutes (cook time will vary based on the size of your asparagus).
- Drain and rinse no-salt canned black beans. Place beans in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and half the salsa. Gently heat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Prepare guacamole: Rinse cilantro, de-stem, and mince leaves. Slice open avocado, remove pit, and scoop out flesh.
- Place avocado in a bowl, squeeze with lime juice, and mash with a fork. Mix in remaining salsa and cilantro, and season with black pepper and cayenne pepper (optional).
Serve brown rice and beans with roasted asparagus. Add hot sauce if you’d like.
Easy Cheesy Asparagus
|1 bunch asparagus ends trimmed|
|½ teaspoon garlic powder|
|Salt & pepper to taste|
|1 tablespoon olive oil|
|¾ cup shredded mozzarella|
|½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese|
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Move the rack to the middle position and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Grate your parmesan (and mozzarella if you didn’t buy a pre-shredded one). Trim the asparagus ends.
- Place the asparagus on the baking sheet. Add the garlic powder, salt & pepper, and olive oil. Toss until coated. Arrange the asparagus in a mostly single layer.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella over the asparagus. I tend to concentrate it around the middle like in the photos. Sprinkle the Parmesan over top of the mozzarella.
- Roast the asparagus for 12-15 minutes or until it’s cooked through and the cheese is nice and melty. Broil for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese up (watch it carefully). Serve immediately.
Easy Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts
|4 large boneless chicken breasts|
|Salt and pepper|
|12 asparagus stalks — trimmed|
|3 slices, mozzarella cheese|
|1 tsp. garlic powder|
|1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil|
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Cut the chicken breast in half, length-wise. Please do not cut all the way through.
- Create a pocket into each chicken breast. Season the inside of the chicken breast with lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- Place chicken on your work surface and lay the mozzarella cheese and 3 asparagus pieces inside of each chicken breast and fold over, enclosing the filling.
- In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper garlic powder, and paprika. Then season the outside of the chicken breast with this spice mixture.
- Heat a large and oven safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Sear the chicken for 3 to 5 minutes each side and until the chicken is golden brown on top.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Shrimp and Asparagus Stir Fry
|4 tablespoons olive oil|
|1 lb. raw shrimp|
|1 lb. asparagus|
|1 teaspoon salt|
|½ teaspoon crushed red pepper|
|1 teaspoon garlic, minced|
|1 teaspoon ginger, minced|
|1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce|
|2 tablespoons lemon juice|
- In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add shrimp to the pan, then season with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cook until the shrimp is pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add asparagus.
- Add ginger and garlic, then season with ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir frequently and cook until the asparagus is tender-crisp.
- Return the shrimp to the pan, then add soy sauce. Stir until the ingredients are well combined. Just before the dish is ready, add lemon juice, stir once more, then serve while hot.