Did you know one cup of asparagus contains only 30 calories?
When I was learning to eat healthy foods and take care of my health, asparagus caught my attention. It has a low-calorie count, a lot of nutrition, and great health benefits.
So I learned how to roast asparagus, and thank god I did. Keep reading to learn more.
A Few Ways to Add Asparagus to Your Meals
The great thing about asparagus is it’s easy to throw together in only 15 minutes, prep time and all.
Sometimes I’ll whip up some roasted asparagus to pair with my avocado toast. This makes for a quick, nutritious and filling lunch.
And it’s always a dinner side staple at my table. I can serve roasted asparagus to my kids once or twice weekly. They don’t get bored because it’s so incredibly versatile.
You can whip up asparagus with some salt and pepper. Or check out some of our gourmet tips to bring this dinner staple to the next level.
So here’s everything you need to know about asparagus and how to add it to your culinary regime.
Asparagus is Part of a Healthy Diet
Counting calories? Here’s asparagus’ basic nutritional info.
In one cup of asparagus (~134 grams) you’ll find:
- 27 calories
- 0.16 g of fat
- 5.2 g of carbohydrate
- 1.88 g of sugar
- 2.8 g of fiber
- 2.95 g of protein
- 32 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 2.87 mg of iron
- 19 mg of magnesium
- 52 mg of phosphorus
- 202 mg of potassium
- 2 mg of sodium
- 0.54 mg of zinc
- 55.7 mcg of vitamin K
- 51 mcg RAE of vitamin A
- 70 mcg of folate
- 7.5 mg of vitamin C
- 0.192 mg of thiamin
See that list? Low calorie, low sugar, high fiber, and high protein, calorie per calorie. That’s exactly what you want to see in a healthy vegetable!
But it goes even beyond that. Asparagus is one of the top 20 foods listed on the aggregate nutrition density index (ANDI).
Great for Growing Babies
Because of its naturally high folate content, asparagus is a great addition to a new mother’s diet. Folate is extremely important to help a fetus grow big, strong, and healthy. It’s particularly important for the neural system and to promote strong brain functioning.
Folate is one of the main ingredients in most neo-natal supplements. Even if you’re taking a neo-natal supplement, it doesn’t hurt to get more nutrition from your diet.
Our bodies absorb nutrition best through our food. So adding asparagus is a great way to make sure you get enough folate.
Asparagus Fights Depression
Folate helps keep your body from collecting too much homocysteine. Homocysteine blocks nutrients and blood from reaching the brain they naturally should.
Some studies show homocysteine interferes with serotonin and dopamine. This can also screw with your diet, your sleep schedule, and just your general mood.
Keep a Healthy Heart
High levels of homocysteine can lead to coronary heart disease. Homocysteine interferes with the way your blood flows and cycles through your body.
Asparagus has nutrients that help to keep your homocysteine levels normal.
Build Strong Bones
Nutritionists used to promote calcium as the main cause of bone strength. More recently though, they’re promoting Vitamin K to keep your bones strong.
Just one cup of asparagus has half of your daily recommended Vitamin K dose. Add roasted asparagus to your salad or as a side dish with lunch or dinner to get the most out of this delicious treat.
Thanks to its high nutrient content, asparagus is a healthy, nutritious addition. So eat up!
Fresh, Frozen, or Canned?
Asparagus grows normally from late February to mid-May, with April being the peak season. And you may have heard (repeatedly!) fresh is best!
This is true! Most produce loses 30% of its nutritional value in just 3 days after harvesting! Thankfully, properly storing your produce can make it last longer.
So to get the best results, grow asparagus yourself, or get it from a local farmers market while its in season.
But what about the rest of the year? Thankfully, you can freeze your asparagus and enjoy it all year round. It will still keep its flavor and nutrition!
But, heads up, it won’t keep its crunchy texture. The water naturally found in the asparagus freezes and breaks the cell walls. When it thaws, the walls lose their structure, and your asparagus loses its firmness.
When you cook with frozen asparagus, add it to dips and stews where the texture is expected.
What if you’re in a food desert and the only vegetables around are canned? That’s okay!
If you’re working on building a healthier diet, canned vegetables are a good option. They keep almost as much nutrition as fresh ones. They’re certainly better for you than processed food.
Yet, canned asparagus will likely have the same soft texture as frozen asparagus. So they’re best in stews and dips where the texture won’t be noticed.
To get the healthiest canned option, read the ingredients. Look for few added ingredients as possible and keep an eye out for excess salt content. Ideally, the ingredient list should read, “asparagus, water,” and that’s it.
For healthier choices, fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables are all good options. They keep most of their nutrition content and taste, no matter how they’re stored.
If you’re cooking with asparagus that has lost its firmness, check out our favorite recipes here.
But, thanks to fresh asparagus’ firm texture, fresh is best for this recipe.
How to Store Asparagus
I don’t know about you, but I focus my grocery shopping on Saturday. If it doesn’t happen on Saturday, it doesn’t get done. So what about cooking asparagus on Thursday and Friday? How can I make asparagus last the whole week?
First, don’t leave it in its grocery store bag. This is the best way to let it sit in its juices, get slimy, and rot fast.
Instead, take your asparagus out of the bag and store it in an inch or two of water in a mason jar. Stick the stocks upright like you’re putting flowers in a face. Cover them with a plastic sandwich bag.
Since asparagus has such a high water content, keeping them in water helps keep them firm and fresh. Wrapping them in plastic keeps out air, which is a major factor in causing food to rot.
Plus, a nice little vase of fresh asparagus sitting in your fridge is pretty and enticing. It’s a lot better than a flimsy, slimy, thin plastic bag.
How to Prep Asparagus
It takes hardly any time at all to prep asparagus. You can knock it out in two to three easy steps.
Step One: Wash Your Produce
People pick up and replacing produce (with or without washing their hands prior). Grocers need to stock the shelves. Your produce comes across a lot of contaminants between harvest and store shelves.
But just washing your produce with tap water can get rid of 98% of the bacteria on your food.
Step Two: Break Off The Ends
The very bottom of an asparagus’ stalk is tough and woody, even when it’s cooked. While it’s not harmful to consume, it’s just unpleasant.
To break off the end, take the asparagus and bend it. It should snap right at the point between the tender, delicious stalk and the woody end. Toss out (or compost) the ends and you’re ready to go!
Step Three: Peel (Optional)
This last step is purely a matter of personal preference. Some people find the skin to be tough. If this is you, go ahead and peel away the toughest parts of the skin.
If the skin doesn’t bug you, or you’re more pressed for time, go ahead and leave it on!
How to Roast Asparagus
Down to the roasting part.
2 cups asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prep your asparagus and lay them flat on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roll your asparagus to thoroughly coat them.
3. Roast the asparagus for about 4-5 minutes and give the pan a good shake to turn the asparagus. Roast for another 4-5 minutes until golden brown.
And that’s all it takes for basic roasted (delicious) asparagus! Enjoy!
Remember, roasting in olive oil will bump up the calorie content. But it also adds a lot of health benefits from the olive oil itself.
For best results, use extra virgin olive oil. You can check out some great olive oil health benefits here.
If you’re looking to upgrade your roasted asparagus game, check out the tips below.
Mix Up Your Spices to Make it Gourmet
Salt and pepper, salt and pepper. These two commonplace spices can bring any dish from bland to delectable. But they are a bit, well, commonplace.
If you’re ready to bring your roasted asparagus game to the next level, try one of these tips.
Parmesan pairs extraordinarily well with asparagus. You can try adding it to your toasting mix to get make the cheese crispy, or just add it on top after it’s already roasted.
Are you bringing roasted asparagus to a dinner party where some people follow a vegan diet? Then consider bringing a fresh block of hard parmesan and a grater.
This way, those with a vegan diet can enjoy the dish. Meanwhile, the rest of the party can enjoy adding freshly grated parmesan to their desire.
Before you roast your asparagus, mince two or three cloves of fresh garlic and scatter them into the mix. Garlic brings any dish to a new level, and it offers its artillery of health benefits to the dish too.
Lemon Zest or Wedges
Looking for a pretty plate? Add a pop of color with some lemons!
Take a fresh lemon, cut it in half, and squeeze the juice over your freshly roasted asparagus. Cut a thin slice or two from the other half and plate them on one or opposite corners of your dish. The garnish will make your dish look that much better.
Give It a Kick With Pepper Flakes
Sometimes you just need a dish with a good kick. When I’m in the mood for something a bit spicy, I like to add red pepper flakes to my roasted asparagus.
Before you put the asparagus in the oven, sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon over the top and roll to coat the asparagus. Toast just like normal.
Add a Balsalmic Drizzle
If you want to add more of a tangy flavor to your dish, drizzle your asparagus with balsamic vinegar. Make sure not to overdo this, as you can always add more later. In a pinch, I like to use zesty Italian dressing instead.
Improve the Texture With Sliced Almonds
If it’s towards the end of the week, and my asparagus is starting to look sad, I like to add toasted sliced almonds.
The almonds bring back some of the crunchiness the asparagus might be lacking. It’s a good way to keep otherwise good produce from going to waste.
Enjoy the Perfect Side Dish
Now you know how to roast asparagus! We covered how to keep it fresh between grocery trips and upgrade with new and exciting flavors.
For best results, use fresh, homegrown asparagus, or asparagus from the farmer’s market. You can mix up the flavors by adding garlic, pepper flakes, almonds or balsamic vinegar.
Asparagus is loaded with healthy benefits. You can always enjoy it plain, or try any of our roasted asparagus tips to enjoy it often.
Keep checking back for more healthy recipes. Check out our guides to the best kitchen cookware on the market.
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