These days the asparagus is beautiful as it glows green with its’ purplish hue in the stores and at the farmer’s stand around the corner. This mild diuretic makes my body feel great, especially when I wake up in the morning. That is always the sign for me to know how I balanced my food, activity and stress level from the previous day. How I feel first thing in the morning, either bloated or energetic, light or heavy, etc. Take this as a sign as to what your body may or may not be needing as you plan for the day ahead. Learning the body’s language is key in mastering your health and the choices you have.
Here is a recipe for a soup that is loved by everyone who tries it. All are amazed by the vegan health factor, it is delicious indeed.
Crème of Asparagus Soup
2T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 leeks, white part only
6 cups asparagus, chopped
1/3 cup rolled oats
3 cups sunflower milk
¾ t dill
dash of nutmeg
¼ jalapeño, chopped (or ¼ t red pepper flakes)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of sweet white miso per serving
Fresh parsley to garnish
1. Wash all the asparagus, discard any tough ends saving for a broth or juicing.
2. Chop asparagus into 2-inch pieces
3. In a large pot over medium heat warm the olive oil and add the garlic and leeks, sautéing until just soft. The aroma is amazing.
4. Add the nutmeg and dill with a sprinkling of salt.
5. Add the asparagus, oats, milk and jalapeño or red pepper flakes.
6. Bring to a boil and lower heat, simmer for 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.
7. Puree soup using a hand blender or blend in blender using caution as the liquid id hot and there is little room for error.
8. Dissolve miso in individual servings. If miso is heated, the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are destroyed, therefore add to soup just before serving and avoid reheating soup once miso has been added.
9. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Health Benefits of asparagus include anti-Inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Asparagus has an unusual combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as saponins, asparanin A, sarsasapogenin, protodioscin, and diosgenin as well as the flavonoids quercetin, rutin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. Due to the signifigant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients found in asparagus, frequent consumption of fresh asparagus helps to reduce risks of common chronic health problems including type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, asparagus provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. Asparagus contains a notable amount of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH). GSH is one of the body’s best-studied antioxidants. GSH consists of three amino acids combined into one molecule:
1. Glutamic acid
At least one published study has estimated the amount of GSH in fresh asparagus to average 28 milligrams per 3.5 ounces. Several studies have compared the overall antioxidant capacity of asparagus to the antioxidant capacity of other vegetables, and the results for asparagus have been outstanding in asparagus’ favor.
Similar to Jerusalem Artichoke, asparagus contains significant amounts of inulin, a unique carbohydrate called polyfructan which is often called a “prebiotic.”
Unlike most other carbs, inulin doesn’t get broken down in the first segments of our digestive tract. It passes undigested all the way to our large intestine. Once it arrives at our large intestine, it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria (like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) that are associated with better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy, and lower risk of colon cancer.
Alongside of its unusual inulin content, asparagus is rich in fiber (about 3 grams per cup, including about 2 grams of insoluble fiber and 1 gram of soluble fiber) and also contains a noteworthy amount of protein (about 4-5 grams per cup). Both fiber and protein help stabilize our digestion and keep food moving through us at the desirable rate.
Asparagus has been used for centuries in Aruyvedic treatments of digestive problems.
Asparagus also contains an unusually high amount of B-vitamins and is an excellent source of folic acid and vitamin B1 as well as very good source of vitamins B2, B3 and B6. Asparagus also contains the B vitamins choline, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Because B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, they are critical for healthy blood sugar management. And because they play a key role in regulation of homocysteine, they are critical in heart health has well. (Homocysteine is an amino acid, and when it reaches excessive levels in our blood, it is a strong risk factor for heart disease.)
Asparagus contains naturally-occurring substances called purines. Purines are commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called “gout” and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as asparagus.
Asparagus contains a unique array of phytonutrients. Like chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke, it is an important source of the digestive support nutrient, inulin. Its anti-inflammatory saponins include asparanin A, sarsasapogenin, protodioscin, and diosgenin. Flavonoids in asparagus include quercetin, rutin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. In the case of purple asparagus, anthocyanins are also among asparagus’ unique phytonutrients. Asparagus is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K, heart-healthy folate, vitamin B1, vitamin C, and vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and bone-building copper. Asparagus is a very good source of energy-producing vitamin B2, and B3 as well as phosphorus; heart-healthy potassium, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber; antioxidant-promoting vitamin E and manganese; and muscle-building protein.