Amazing Asparagus is Healthy and Delicious
Cultivated asparagus has been a luxury item throughout its history, but it escapes cultivation so easily that it is found wild; free for the gathering, in whatever regions it is cultivated. One of spring’s first vegetables, asparagus is related to onions, garlic, and other plants in the lily family. There are three main types: green, white and the rarest, purple.
Only the young green shoots, or spears, of asparagus are eaten. The spears should be bright green, perfectly straight, firm and brittle, with tips that are tight, compact and pointed. Avoid any that are very thin or very thick, as these will tend to be tough and stringy, as well as any with open, wilted, shriveled, or yellowing tips. Unless you plan to eat it immediately, asparagus is best stored in a cool place below 41 degrees or the coldest part of the refrigerator with the stems wrapped in a damp paper towel.
Fresh asparagus tastes best raw or cooked just briefly, a fact obviously appreciated by the ancient Roman Emperor Augustus, who is said to have described a task quickly done as taking “less time than to cook asparagus.” Before steaming, boiling or grilling, snap off the tough lower stem-end by holding a spear in both hands and bending it; it will break where the tender and tough parts meet. Canned asparagus has lost all of its wholesome qualities and is best avoided.
Asparagus was used medicinally long before it was eaten as a vegetable. The Greeks and Romans used it for reliving the pain of toothaches and for bee stings. The active medicinal constituent is asparagine, nature’s most effective kidney diuretic, which breaks up the oxalic and uric acid crystals in the kidneys and muscles and eliminates them through the urine. Occasionally, this will produce a strong odor in the urine, which is temporary.
Asparagus also contains substantial amounts of aspartic acid, an amino acid that neutralizes excess amounts of ammonia that linger in our bodies and make us tired, and a substance called rutin, a factor in preventing small blood vessels from rupturing. Its high water content and roughage encourage evacuation; it is also a good blood builder, due to its chlorophyll content, and contains many of the elements that build the liver, kidneys, skin, ligaments and bones.
Raw Asparagus Almond Salad
2 cups raw asparagus ½ cup almonds ½ cup green spring onions 1 cup raw green peas ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup coconut vinegar ½ tsp. Himalayan salt ½ cup fresh basil Pinch cayenne pepper Pinch dried thymeSoak the almonds in 2 cups of water overnight and drain.
Chop the asparagus, almonds and spring onions. Combine with the green peas, oil, vinegar, salt, basil, pepper and thyme and mix together until everything is well-coated. Allow to sit for a couple of hours of more so the flavors can meld together. and then enjoy!
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of the Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering Healthy Lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or1-800-844-9876 and visit LivingFoodsInstitute.com.