Despite your allergies you are quite happy that spring is here. Leaving the house without a coat in the morning and leaving the office with daylight to spare does your soul good.

So does a leisurely Saturday morning at the farmers market.

Farmers Market of the Ozarks (my market of choice) stays open all year long but the selection is small during the winter months. The last days of April start the slow and steady rise to a full and vibrant summertime market. There are gorgeous hanging baskets and barely beginning tomato plants for your own growing pleasure. Greens like spinach and chard make their appearance along with herbs like chives and mint. But what really draws me to the market this time of year (besides the relaxation of strolling will drinking a cup of English Breakfast tea) is the asparagus.

Right now is the perfect time to enjoy this nutrient rich vegetable. Asparagus is a prebiotic food that is high in vitamins A, C, E and K as well as chromium, a trace mineral important to the body’s ability to use insulin and transport glucose out of the blood stream. Asparagus is also very easy to quickly get on the table. You should take advantage when it’s in season, fresh and affordable.

No matter how you choose to enjoy asparagus start with this very important first step: snap the ends. Nature helps you know how to trim the spears for perfect taste. Just bend and snap off the ends at their natural breaking point. Now you’re ready to try one of these delicious and easy asparagus recipes

Asparagus as a side dish

I enjoy asparagus sautéed in a little olive oil for 3-5 minutes (just long enough to become tender). Just before removing the pan from the heat, I mix the juice of one half a lemon and one half an orange and pour over the asparagus. You can finish with some lemon zest, pepper and salt. It’s the perfect side dish pairing to anything from a frittata to meatloaf.

Asparagus in a wrap

I’ve been making wraps with the Pea & Edamame spread from Protein Ninja. I smear it on a low carb tortilla with avocado, spinach, red onion and a few steamed asparagus spears. Did you know that you could steam asparagus in the microwave? Click here and let Alton Brown show you how.

Asparagus as a snack

Here’s your perfectly balanced afternoon snack. Take a raw asparagus spear and wrap with a thin slice of turkey (or Tofurky) that has been spread with hummus or along with a thin slice of Swiss cheese. Make four or five for a very filling mini meal.

Asparagus in your main dish.

I have quite a few asparagus recipes that I love for main dishes. I substituted asparagus for the green beans in the Veggie Pan Omelet in Protein Ninja with great results. I also love Penne with Asparagus and Goat Cheese from the Healthy Pasta cookbook.

Here are other great recipes that make asparagus a star at the dinner table.

I almost forgot – asparagus is great on the grill too! If you can stand the pollen why don’t you grill some veggies and, if you’re an omnivore, some chicken or salmon for dinner. Make meal planning for the week a snap by making double for leftovers for the week.

How do you enjoy asparagus?

TMI….do you get the stinky pee from eating asparagus?

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