Asparagus, like most veggies, is low in calories (27 per cup) and high in fiber, making it the perfect addition to any weight loss plan. A bonus – it is a natural diuretic, a treasured secret among body builders and those who are battling the bloat!

And if you count your macros, you are no stranger to asparagus – crispy yet tender, bitter yet sweet, and always satisfying – the bodybuilder’s favorite veggie makes anyone’s cut (weight loss) or bulk (muscle building) easy and tasty.

Asparagus is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to keep you healthy. It’s a superb source of vitamin K (important for bone density and blood clotting), folic acid and other B vitamins, iron, vitamin C, and the minerals zinc and selenium. It’s also an impressive source of prebiotics, which serve as a food source for healthy bacteria in our digestive tract. Asparagus has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal food, perhaps because it helps to reduce inflammation in the body, fights high blood pressure, and has detoxifying and anti-cancer properties.

What about that weird odor of your urine after eating asparagus? Interestingly, some people have the ability to detect the smell, and some do not. It’s normal and perfectly harmless, and can emerge within 15 minutes of eating the asparagus and last up to 2 days. It comes from asparagusic acid, which breaks down into several smelly sulfur-containing compounds when digested. These very components are protective against disease, so if your pee is pungent, rest assured your body is reaping great benefits!

Asparagus has taken the world of healthy cuisine by storm.

Ditch any temptation to boil it — elevate your asparagus to new heights. Try it marinated and grilled; roasted and tossed in a salad; topped with a tangy or spicy sauce; or sautéed with pasta and fresh veggies. Enjoy asparagus in tasty dishes from all over the world — from curries to omelets to pizza to sushi to stir fries.

Asparagus, which is in the same veggie family as onions, garlic, leeks, and turnips, is in season in the spring months but has become available year-round thanks to modern agricultural techniques and mass transport. Locally grown asparagus is a real treat — you’ll enjoy it at its peak of flavor and maximum nutritional punch, and reduce your carbon footprint too.

Look for firm, healthy-looking green/purple or white spears with plump buds at the tips. (Old asparagus is yellowed, bendy, and the tips will look dry or wilted.) Stalk thickness is a matter of personal preference; sometimes the fatter ones are tougher, but not necessarily.

Store asparagus in the fridge, with the stalks’ base wrapped in a damp paper towel to extend freshness. Just before using, rinse under cool water to remove dirt, and trim 1-3” of the base with kitchen shears.

 

Here are 3 variations on 3 basic asparagus cooking methods.

You will need:

• 1 pound of asparagus spears

• 1 tbsp good quality olive oil

• sea salt and fresh ground pepper

SAUTÉED

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add in trimmed asparagus and sauté over medium heat for 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness) until it starts to brown. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and serve.

ROASTED

Trim the asparagus and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 450°F for 8-12 minutes (longer for fatter asparagus) until tender.

GRILLED

Trim the asparagus and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, for 4-6 minutes.

Variation 1: The “Triple A” — Asparagus-arugula-avocado salad with citrus dill dressing

For the dressing, mix up 1/2 cup orange juice, the juice of 2 lemons, 4 tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil), and 1 tbsp dried dill or 2 tbsp fresh chopped. Slice up cooked asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Place in a big bowl with a 5-ounce bag of arugula and one large ripe cubed avocado. Gently toss salad with dressing and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Variation 2: Asparagus tossed with Ezekiel penne, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts

Weigh out 8 ounces of Ezekiel (or other sprouted grain) penne and boil according to package directions. Meanwhile, slice up cooked asparagus into 1-inch pieces, roughly chop 1 cup packed sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), and shred up a cup of basil leaves. When pasta is done, drain, place back in hot pot, and add the prepared vegetables. Stir and add 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and 1/3 cup pine nuts. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6.

Variation 3: Asparagus with Miso Glaze

For the miso glaze, combine 3 tbsp coconut sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp hot water, and 2 tbsp miso. Slice a large red onion into eighths. Slice 8-10 ounces mushrooms of your choice. In a large sauté pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp canola or safflower oil. Stir fry the onion and mushrooms in the oil until cooked, about 8 minutes. Add the sauce. Cook over low heat for several more minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the asparagus and toss to coat. Serve over brown rice or rice noodles. Serves 4.

 

The Triple A Salad per serving:

272 calories
23 g fat
2.8 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
15 g carbohydrates
4.4 g fiber
5 g protein
 

Asparagus with Ezekiel penne per serving:

355 calories
21 g fat
2.7 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
35 g carbohydrates
8 g fiber
2 g sugar
10 g protein
 

Asparagus with Miso Glaze per serving:

335 calories
15.5 g fat
1.8 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
44 g carbohydrates
8 g fiber
28 g sugar
12 g protein
 
 
 
References:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-asparagus-makes-your-urine-smell-49961252

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2824

by Dina Aronson, MS, RDN

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