Add a Healthy Boost to Your Barbecue With Easy Grilled Asparagus

asparagus

Asparagus, which is currently in season, is also loaded with antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, plus folate, iron, copper, calcium and protein. Photo: Elena_Danileiko / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Now that sunnier days are here in Canada, we’ve got fresh, local veggies on hand all through the warmer growing season. It’s even better if you’ve got them in your garden, as nutrients can start to fade soon after picking. That’s another good reason to visit the local farmers’ markets beginning to crop up in our great outdoors.

Vegetables are known cancer fighters, with leafy and intensely coloured greens leading the way due to their phytochemicals — free-radical fighting antioxidants — and are also an abundant source of longevity-inducing folate, potassium (good for controlling blood pressure), fibre, a handful of vitamins and immune-boosting minerals.

Eating your daily dose of greens (Health Canada recommends seven to 10 servings of fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods) can be a tastier-than-you-think endeavour.

In their book, Fresh & Healthy Cooking for Two, Ellie Topp and Marilyn Booth give “easy meals for everyday life” tips and recipes geared to empty nesters, and even singletons, who may have spent a better part of their lives either cooking for a brood or eating takeout on their own.

But greens aren’t the only super powers. Asparagus, which is currently in season, is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, plus folate, iron, copper, calcium and protein. Its high fibre content and diuretic abilities are also known to help in weight management and beating bloat. 

According to legend, the Romans had a fondness for asparagus (it’s said that Augustus had a particular taste for the Eastern Mediterranean plant), recognizing its healing, detoxifying and medicinal properties but perhaps more so due to its spear-like, sexy shape.

It was a favourite in the courts of Europe, no doubt for its exotic nature but also a boon for the royal chefs: it can be eaten raw or cooked simply, as Topp and Booth suggest in their recipe, for grilled asparagus. “Simple is often best when enjoying asparagus in season.”  

It’s also a veggie you might consider planting and growing yourself next year. Garden experts love the spear-like plant because it’s a low-maintenance perennial that shows up every spring before a lot of other plants make their appearance. Simply put, health aside, it’s in season and simply delicious — especially when it comes from the garden you grow. 

Grilled Asparagus Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 lb (250 g) fresh asparagus

1 tsp (5 ml) olive oil 

Instructions:

Place asparagus in a grill basket. Brush with olive oil and place over medium heat; grill for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender and slightly browned. Drizzle with extra olive oil before serving if desired. Serves 2.

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