Asparagus: The Tasty Buzz on these Elegant Spears!

While wandering through the Farmer's Market I spot a perky wooden crate overflowing with late season asparagus. The tall green spears are crisp and clean in their tidy little rubber-banded bundles. Like fresh cut flowers almost. Asparagus is an elegant vegetable, classy enough for the snazziest of dinner parties, and a simple asparagus side dish is often on the menu at the finest of fine dining restaurants. But is there any cause for nutrition-fueled buzz behind those dark buds of green? You bet! Click ahead to read all about facts and the health benefits of asparagus. I'll even give you a few tips on how to encourage kids to eat it, happily....

Asparagus Facts. Did you know that asparagus is a member of the lily family? I guess my flower comparison was valid! And FYI, also in the lily family are leeks, garlic and onions. And did you know that asparagus comes in a variety of colors, the most exotic being the white asparagus. And this is amazing: an asparagus can grow 10" in 24 hours, under ideal conditions!

Questions about Asparagus.

Can asparagus be eaten raw?
Apparently, yes. Although I wouldn't recommend it on a taste value level. Maybe a very thin slice could be yummy if marinaded with oil and balsamic vinegar. Hmm...

How do I cook asparagus?
You can steam, fry, saute, boil, bake or roast asparagus. You can also grill it. Grilled asparagus is an amazing summer treat. Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of s and p and you are in grilled green spear bliss.

What are some good asparagus flavor accents? Lemon and garlic are excellent flavors to add to an asparagus saute. Any vinegar or acid will help break down the thick asparagus stalk flesh. This makes for a more tender bite. Asparagus also goes will with spicy chilies, along side white vegan cheese in an asparagus melt sandwich, or even on top of a colorful vegetable pizza. Just be careful not to overcook your spears. No one likes mushy asparagus, no matter how you flavor it!

How to get kids to eat asparagus. There are a few ways. First try giving it to them straight-up. Say, this is yummy asparagus, it will help you grow big and string. Saute it in a bit of olive oil and vinegar. If that doesn't work... Tell them they are eating tiny bean stalks, like the kind in the Jack and the Beanstalk story. Pair it with some mashed sweet potatoes so they can actually stick the stalks in the dirt before eating them. That's how I get kids interested. Interest usually leads to eating. If that doesn't work, try tossing asparagus slices into a pasta dish. Asparagus goes well with so many flavors: marinara sauce, garlic, creamy, lemony or even an Asian stir fry pasta. Still having trouble? Fold it into a burrito or taco on fiesta night. Many kids will eat the head of the asparagus, but hate the chewy stalk. So appease them by giving them only the top sliced head of the asparagus. If all else fails, puree it and stick it in a recipe. Blend it right into the marinara sauce, or into a rich creamy pea soup. Generally I'm not a huge fan of hiding healthy foods into kids meals. But sometimes a mom has to do what a mom has to do...

And here are the nutrition facts for asparagus...

Nutrients in Asparagus.
Asparagus spears are high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin.

Asparagus Nutrition Facts:

Serving size: 5 ounces, around 6 spears
Calories: 20
Protein: 3 grams
Carbohydrate: 3 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Vitamin A: 8% RDA
Vitamin C: 20% RDA
Thiamin: 15% RDA
Riboflavin: 6% RDA
Niacin: 6% RDA
Calcium: 2% RDA
Potassium: 400 milligrams
Dietary Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin B6: 10% RDA
Folacin: 60% RDA
Magnesium: 4% RDA
Copper: 4% RDA

A great resource on asparagus:

or complete asparagus nutrition facts click here.
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