Spring is upon us in this great land down-under, and springtime means fresh asparagus. Don’t be fooled into thinking this classy vegetable grows naturally all year round. It doesn’t. It’s one of nature’s sublime springtime treats, best when its hidden, subterranean parts had the pleasure of a good, cold winter.
So what about the road-raging and ranting? Is there a natural sedative in the pert spears of an asparagus bunch?
Well, not that I know of, yet in Chinese herbal medicine its underground tuber is described by Paul Pitchford as able to “improve the feminine principle, especially in the aggressive person, and is used to ease menstrual difficulties, promote fertility, and increase one’s receptive and compassionate nature.” He s not just talking about women, by the way!
The ritual of preparing and cooking fresh asparagus to perfection, enjoyed with a strip of smoked salmon and a soft-boiled egg might at least slow us down, and give cause for gratitude to mother nature for her spring bounty. Perhaps compassion follows such a dainty feast?
Here’s what else we know about fresh asparagus – not that sad, soggy stuff in cans:
- It has a natural diuretic, making it an ideal food to naturally shift a little fluid retention
- When fresh and seasonal, it has good amounts of vitamin C and A, sulphur, folic acid, and potassium, and is naturally low in kilojoules and sodium.
- it also contains an amino acid – a protein building block – called asparagine, which gives urine that unusual smell after we’ve eaten asparagus.
We understand that in Chinese medical terms, asparagus nourishes the cooling, calming, restorative nature of Yin energy. No surprises there, for a food which spent the winter slumbering and gestating underground, away from Yang warmth and light.
Did you know that the little tips of asparagus are actually its flowers, and that aged Parmesan is a great friend to asparagus?
If you live in Brisbane Australia, and would like to learn how to cook slow-roasted Kealford Farm Organic Pork with spring asparagus on a cauliflower and white bean mash, and many other seasonal wonders contact me.
My colleague Jillaine Wheeler – The Pantry Practitioner – is cooking this, and other family friendly fare in a cooking class this September. There’s also an artichoke and aioli starter, a wild salmon rillette, deeply nourishing, creamy green ice cream, and organic, preservative-free rose on the menu. I hope you can join us.
How do you like to serve and enjoy asparagus? Are you lucky enough to live in a place where fat,white asparagus is common? Let us know with a comment.
Image : Thanksgiving Asparagus Oil on gessoed board.© Marilyn M King. Used with kind permission. This and other similarly beautiful oil paintings available at Small Oil Paintings
Words: Margi Macdonald
Cautions: The information here is not a substitute for face-to-face health care provided by a health professional, nor can it be construed as advice for the management of any physical, mental or emotional disorder. Please see your Doctor is you have a health concern.
Hi Margi- I don’t blanch them, just wash them off, trim the ends, and put them in the oven with a little olive oil and sea salt. Sometimes I throw in strips of red pepper and cloves of garlic too.
Grandma grew up on a farm in Austria, and had really good eating habits which my mother considered low class and which I’ve come to appreciate more and more. For example, Grandma ate banana sandwiches- strange but nutritious.
Lynn, I’m smiling now… mashed banana on buttery toast kept me going on many, many night shifts during my past career as an RN.
Spring time and asparagus- I’d better move! Here in New York the days are getting longer and the fresh locally grown greens will soon be getting scarce.
My grandmother always extolled the health benefits of eating asparagus– but I ate it anyway ;) because I liked it, and when I grew up I knew she was right about the benefits, still loved the taste, and kept right on eating asparagus.
I like to cook it in the oven with a little olive oil- the roasting brings out its full flavor.
Do you blanche the asparagus before it goes into the oven?
( That is a lovely story about your gtandmother serving tasty ‘health food’)