Asparagus

asparagusAsparagus is a spring vegetable and a member of the lily family. Over 300 varieties exist but only 20 are edible. It is native to the Mediterranean but is now grown worldwide. Asparagus is considered a delicacy in the vegetable world with the British crops (available May-July) rumoured to be amongst the best.

Why is it good for me?

  • Asparagus is incredibly low calorie – there’s only 20kcal per 100g! (It’s 93% water).
  • Relatively rich in protein when compared to other vegetables. There’s 2.2g protein in 100g asparagus, therefore nearly half the total calories come from protein.
  • A great source of vitamin K, which is important for wound healing and bone health – 100g asparagus provides 40% of the recommended vitamin K intake.

A few words of caution…

  • Don’t be alarmed if your urine smells strong after eating asparagus. This is thought to be due to one of the compounds in asparagus (methanethiol) and is nothing to worry about.
  • If you suffer from gout it may be wise to avoid asparagus (or limit your intake) as it is reasonably high in purines. Purines are molecules which break down into uric acid.

What can I do with it?

  • Steam asparagus spears, leave to cool then chop and add to a salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing.
  • Chop and add to a stir fry.
  • Simple supper: lay spears of asparagus on sheets of foil. Top with a fillet of salmon, a couple of slices of lemon and some dill. Drizzle some olive oil and season with pepper. Fold up the sides of the foil to make an enclosed pouch. Bake in oven at 200°C for 20 minutes.
  • Sauté pre-steamed asparagus with halved cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and finely chopped garlic.
  • Asparagus and eggs: add chopped asparagus to small ovenproof dishes. Bake in oven at 200°C for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and crack in 1-2 eggs. Return to oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of grated parmesan then return to oven for a final 3 minutes.