Asparagus

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad
Asparagus is in season right now which means it is fresh and affordable making it a great way to add some vegetables to your day. Don’t forget we all need to consume at least 2 ½ cups per day of vegetables!

Asparagus is a flowering perennial, a cousin to garlic. It is one of the oldest recorded vegetables, thought to originate along the coastal region of the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor regions. It comes in four varieties: green, white, purple, and wild. It takes three years from the time that a grower sows seed before its real harvest. A cup of asparagus only contains 27 calories, 0 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, and 3 grams protein making it a great choice. It also has a good folate, vitamin C, and potassium content.

What to look for when choosing asparagus? The thinnest stalks are the most tender. Steer clear of any limp or wilted asparagus. If it has a fresh scent it is a great choice. If it has a musty smell, pass on it as it might be getting old. If the asparagus is bunched together find one that is uniform in width so the spears will cook uniformly. Try to eat as quickly as possible however as asparagus does tend to go bad quickly. If you cannot eat it right away you can preserve it by trimming the ends of the stalks and standing the bunch in a cup of water in the refrigerator.

Try one of these recipes from allrecipes.com to add some fresh asparagus to your meal!

Parmesan Asparagus (makes 2 servings)
Ingredients:
10 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
Cooking spray
1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp garlic salt
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Lightly coat asparagus with cooking spray; place on prepared baking sheet. Combine Parmesan cheese and garlic salt in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes; turn asparagus and continue baking until tender, about 6 minutes.
4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese mixture over asparagus.
Per serving: 32 calories, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 2 g fiber, 3.2 g protein, 153 mg sodium

Grilled Asparagus (makes 4 servings)
Ingredients:
1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat grill for high heat.
2. Lightly coat the asparagus spears with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Grill over high heat for 2-3 minutes or to desired tenderness.
Per serving: 53 calories, 4.4 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g fat, 2.3 g fiber, 2.5 g protein, 99 mg sodium

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