Unlike many other vegetables you can grow in your garden, asparagus is first harvested in the early spring. As one of the first edible products the earth provides for us each year in the U.S., asparagus is generally somewhat of an unsung hero in the vegetable world. It gets a bad rap from kids who are frightened to try new greens and from those who claim that asparagus will give your urine a strange smell.
Despite what you may hear, only about 50 percent of the population experiences a change in their pee's odor after eating asparagus. This is due to a genetic trait that causes your body to metabolize two of the chemicals in asparagus a certain way. However, the fact remains that this relative to the lily plant is chock full of important nutrients that are difficult to find in other food sources.
Asparagus is not only high in fiber at 3 grams a serving and low in sodium at less than 5 mg a serving, but it is also very low in calories--less than 20 calories a serving. Moreover, among vegetables, it is the leading supplier of folic acid and just one serving, or about five spears, provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance of this nutrient. Folicin is instrumental in blood cell formation and growth, and therefore especially beneficial for women who are anemic, pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding. Studies have shown that increasing your intake of folic acid "may reduce the risks of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in infants." (www.kidshealth.org) Women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant are still advised to supplement their folate intake with prenatal vitamins, but increasing your dietary source of the nutrient is an even tastier way to make your body baby-friendly.
Finally and most importantly, asparagus is delicious and affordable. The recipe below is for a perfect springtime dish that is criminally simple to prepare and a perfect complement to brown rice or whole-wheat pasta:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Prepare your asparagus by rinsing them and trimming off the woody bottom part of the stalk – roughly 1-2 inches. The rest of the spear will be tastier and more tender.