Food of the Month: Asparagus

While growing up, I never ate asparagus. After I moved out of my parents house, I decided to try this unique looking vegetable. It was slightly sweet, juicy and delicious, I loved it right away! I found out that the reason I had never had it while growing up, is that my Mom did not like it. However, my Dad loves asparagus, and just like me, my sister, after trying it, also loves it. Now it is one of my favorite vegetables and I cook with it whenever possible.

Known for being a spring time vegetable, it grows wild here in Michigan. Various species of asparagus were cultivated by Egyptian cultures beginning as early as 3,000 BC. And, it has been used for its medicinal properties for over 2,000 years. The asparagus plant contains the anti-inflammatory nutrients: vitamins C and E, beta carotene, zinc, manganese and selenium. It also contains a variety of B vitamins: folic acid, B1, B2, B6, niacin, choline, and pantothenic acid. B vitamins are important because they get depleted when you are under stress.

Packed with antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamin C and K, and chromium, asparagus is also a rich source of a compound, glutathione, that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. This may indicate that it could help protect against certain types of cancers such as breast, colon, larynx and lung.

When buying asparagus, look for a firm stalk that is not wilted. Also, look for the tips to be firm, not soft. Asparagus can be steamed, roasted in the oven, sautéed, deep fried, grilled and added to soups. Asparagus tastes very good when cooked with garlic, which brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable.

Asparagus Pinto Bean Corn Soup

1 leek (washed very good and cut in thin slices)
6 cloves garlic (minced)
1 lb. asparagus (cut in 1/2″ pieces)
3 carrots (diced small)
olive oil, sea salt
10 cups water
4 cups corn
2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans (drained)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme

In a large soup pot, sauté the leeks in a little olive oil and sea salt, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, asparagus and carrots. Add a little more olive oil and sea salt, sauté all the vegetables together. You want to sauté the vegetables for a good 5 minutes, until they start to sweat. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add corn and beans, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and add the lemon juice, 2 1/2 tsp. sea salt, basil and thyme. Mix all together and serve hot.

Val Wilson

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About the writer: Valerie Wilson

Valerie Wilson is a chef, author, counselor, and host of "Healthy Cooking with Macro Val" on BMSRadio. She teaches macrobiotic, vegan cooking classes in Westland, Mi.

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