Food For Thought: Asparagus Is a Heath and Anti-Aging Hero

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Asparagus is probably my favorite vegetable. Historically asparagus has been used to treat arthritis and rheumatism because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been used as a diuretic. It’s extremely healthy also. It’s low in calories at only 24 calories for a full cup! It’s also low in carbohydrates. It’s a rich source of protein compared to other vegetables and also a good source of fiber…When shopping you want to buy fresh dark green asparagus with the tips tightly closed and the bottom stalks not so dried out. When you get them home, if you aren’t going to cook them right a way, you can wrap the tips with a damp paper towel to store and maintain freshness. You should prepare asparagus within 2-3 days of purchasing to insure you are getting the most nutrients.

What I like most and why I make is so often, is of how easy it is to prepare and the many ways you can use this healthy vegetable.

My favorite quick and easy way to prepare asparagus is baking. First you want to snap off the tough ends and rinse well. I lay them flat in a glass Pyrex baking dish and pour coconut oil over them. Then bake the asparagus at 400 degrees for no more than 10 minutes. At about 5 minutes, you want to take them out and toss them around to coat them evenly with the oil. Simple and delicious!

Steaming is one of the most popular ways to prepare, then just put a little oil or butter on them and eat.

They are excellent in stir frys, add to your pasta sauce, or my favorite is adding them to scrambled eggs. Lightly sauté a couple of chopped up spears with a handful of fresh or frozen spinach and make some killer scrambled eggs. Imagine starting your day off with two servings of vegetables right with that one dish.

Asparagus is wonderful when eaten raw, just chop up into bite size pieces and toss in a salad or use a veggie tray for dipping instead of the old boring standbys like carrots and celery.

I can’t recommend canned or frozen asparagus. Honestly once you’ve had fresh, you can’t tolerate the canned or frozen. And perhaps this is the only way you’ve had asparagus, so you must try it fresh.

For many people pasta is a staple in the diet, for others its something they try to avoid because of all the carbs. Or perhaps you have gluten intolerance and you just don’t like the alternative grains used to make gluten free pasta. What ever the case, there is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy a healthier gluten free version of this dish.

Spaghetti squash is a great alternative. Its easy to prepare, and when cooked, you simply take a large fork and scrape out the insides and crunchy strands fall out and it looks just like pasta. It is a winter squash. It is available from August through March.

Here is a comparison: for every 1 cup of spaghetti squash you get only 80 calories where as Whole Wheat pasta will run you about 175 calories. Spaghetti squash gives you 18 grams of carbohydrates, while whole wheat pasta delivers 37 carbs. Spaghetti squash is higher in fiber close to 6 grams of fiber and whole wheat pasta has only 4 grams of fiber.

Another great thing about spaghetti squash is it is a good source of potassium. 1 cup of spaghetti squash has more than twice the amount of a medium banana.

And Potassium is important and we don’t get nearly enough because of the high processing of our foods, and our minimal intake of fresh vegetables and fruits. Potassium is an electrolyte that gives every cell in the body a spark. Its extremely important in the function of water balance, muscle and nerve cell function, and heart function.

So how do we prepare it? First you need to cut it length wise, and if you don’t have the muscle for that, have the produce guy at the store cut it for you. You simply scoop out the seeds, then lay face down in a steamer and steam for 20-25 minutes for a good size squash, smaller ones less time. But check on it because if it overcooks, its just mush. You’ll need a large oven mitt to hold the squash because its hot, and then scrape the strands into a large bowl. Top with your favorite red sauce and serve.

About Karen Roth

Hi. My name is Karen Roth, www.karenrothnutrition.com and I’m a Holistic Nutritionist. Okay, I know what you’re thinking… quick, hide the food; the snack police is here! No need to panic. I describe myself as a “practical” nutritionist, one who doesn’t go to extremes one way or the other and understands that life is challenging enough without having to torture yourself by cutting out many of the things you enjoy. Most of us have limited time to shop for food and to cook healthier meals. And a one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to what and how we all eat. Trust me, I get it.

In my early years out of college when I was bartending, my eating and drinking habits were anything but healthy. But, then you grow up and start thinking about the bigger picture and listening more to what your body is telling you. My pre-nutritionist days were on the corporate treadmill where stress and snacking at the desk was part of my daily routine. Never enough hours in the day and proper eating was always at the bottom of my list.

It wasn’t until I broke my jaw in a freak accident that my food life really changed. When you’re wired shut for two months and denied the food you need for your very existence, you begin to look at the world a little differently. When I healed myself, primarily by creating my own foods I could sip through a straw, I decided to pursue something that was always of interest to me… nutrition. Pulling the plug on the corporate treadmill, I went back to school for three years to get my Masters Degree in Holistic Nutrition. I then opened a practice in Valencia, California, and I’m pleased to say that over the years I have helped so many people improve the quality of their lives by helping them make simple changes in their diets and lifestyle.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time-consuming or tasteless, and it is my intention to bring you practical tips each week on how to fit in nutrition one bite at a time. In addition to being practical, I’m also positive so you don’t have to worry that I am going to be Debby Downer and tell you that everything you put in your mouth is going to kill you. Instead, I will offer you easy to implement, simple strategies to help you improve your health. I’ll be introducing new foods (that taste good – because I don’t eat anything that tastes like sawdust or is unappetizing) and new habits that are realistic. I hope you’ll join me as a regular reader and together we’ll build the healthier you with FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

(Karen Roth, MS, NC is a graduate of Hawthorn University’s Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition training program. She helps her clients to take control of their health with foods choices that best support their specific health condition and specific metabolic type and believes that every ill health condition can benefit and possibly improve from a solid foundation of healthy foods choices. Visit her website at www.karenrothnutrition.com

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