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Spearing the Facts on Asparagus

This month our students learned all about Asparagus, and we don’t want to “spear” you the details on this tasty treat. We’ve compiled a short list of fun facts you may not know:

  • Not All Asparagus is Green – Most grocery stores carry green asparagus, however, there are white and purple asparagus as well. Purple asparagus is a genetic variety that actually turns green when cooked. White asparagus however, is created from lack of sunlight, and farmers will pile soil over the spears to create this variation.
  • Asparagus is a perennial flowering plant – It is known as Asparagus officinalis and is a member of the lily family. The asparagus we know and eat is the young offshoots of a larger plant that can live for up to 15 years!
  • All good things take time – Asparagus takes 3-4 years to grow and harvest, making it a more labor intensive investment that can sometimes come with higher prices at the grocery store compared to other vegetables.
  • Yes, There’s a Festival for That – The National Asparagus Festival is held annually in Oceana County Michigan.

Origins

Asparagus originated in eastern Mediterranean countries and other varieties were discovered in Africa. Archaeologists have reported that asparagus was also cultivated in Egypt. In the 16th century, asparagus was only served to royal families in Europe. It was finally available in local marketplaces in the 18th century.

Nutrition Tip

Half a cup of cooked asparagus can provide more than half of the Vitamin K you need in a day! Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and supports bone health. Folate, also found in asparagus, is an important B vitamin, which helps build healthy blood cells. 

Shopping Tip

Use your senses when shopping for asparagus. Look for stalks that are firm and can stand up straight. Do not buy stalks that look limp or flimsy or smell bad. These bright green stalks can be cooked in various ways; they can be sautéed, grilled or baked.

I bought 10 Asparagus at the store, but when I got home I had 11… It was just a spare, I guess.

RecipeAsparagus Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 6 spears fresh asparagus ends trimmed
  • 4 ounces of 1/3 less fat cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 6 slices whole grain bread
  • 3 slices of turkey or ham (low sodium) cut in half

Directions

  1. Blend together the softened cream cheese and the chopped green onions. 
  2. Roll out each bread slice with a rolling pin until flat. 
  3. Spread cream cheese mixture onto flattened bread slice. 
  4. Wrap each trimmed asparagus spear with turkey or ham.
  5. Add rolled asparagus onto the prepared bread and roll.

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