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May 4

Pick a Better Snack: Asparagus

Do you make half your plate fruits and vegetables? Why not take the whole family to the grocery store and have each member pick out a new and different fruit or vegetable to try? Now that spring is in full swing, you should be able to find all sorts of freshly picked produce.

The word asparagus comes from the Greeks and means “sprout” or “shoot.” It’s believed that the first asparagus was harvested in the Mediterranean area of southern Europe. Asparagus come from the same family as onions, leeks and garlic. In the United States, the most popular variety of asparagus is green, but in many other parts of the world people favor the white variety. The only difference between the two varieties is that the white asparagus have been kept covered from the sun. Asparagus needs to be exposed to the sun in order to turn green. An asparagus stalk can grow up to ten inches in one day!

When choosing asparagus, look for firm, fresh spears with closed, compact tips. Avoid wilted asparagus. The best way to store asparagus is to stand the butt-end of the vegetable in one inch of water or wrap the bottom with a wet paper towel and refrigerate. Use within 1-2 days. To trim asparagus before cooking, hold a spear in both hands. Bend the stalk until it snaps.

Wash. Eat. (how easy is that?) Take Asparagus With You!
• Though asparagus is usually eaten cooked, raw asparagus is just as tasty! Dip raw asparagus in low-fat dip for a crunchy snack.
• Spread low-fat cream cheese on your favorite crackers and top with pieces of asparagus.
• For added nutrition, add asparagus spears to your favorite pasta salad.

Asparagus is a superfood:

  • High in folate (B vitamin)
  • A good source of vitamin C
  • Contains gluthathione, an antioxidant that promotes health


Pick a better snack™ was developed in partnership with the Iowa Nutrition Network and the USDA’s Food Stamp Program and Team Nutrition – equal opportunity providers and employers. For more information about the Iowa Nutrition Network, call the Iowa Department of Public Health at (800) 532-1579.