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Choosing Asparagus on Easter

Easter is coming early this year, next Sunday, and after watching some old home videos from 1986, I’ve been thinking about how much has changed between then and now. The list is quite lengthy – I’m an adult instead of a child, many people who used to have Easter dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house are no longer with us, and I no longer have pet rabbits, just to name a few.

 

But one of the biggest differences is that I’m actually choosing to make an asparagus dish for Easter. As a kid, I never would have imagined that.

 

Changing asparagus tastes

When I was growing up, my mom had a big vegetable garden. She’d rope the rest of us into helping with it, but we all knew it was her garden. She grew all kinds of vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, corn, green beans, peas, and more – but one of her favorites was asparagus.



She never got a lot of asparagus in our garden, and so in a way, it worked out that I didn’t like it at the time. (To be honest, that’s an understatement. I hated asparagus. I liked most of the other veggies, but I just couldn’t deal with asparagus.)

 

Most of the time, my mom would try to get me to eat vegetables even if I wasn’t super excited about them, but she didn’t try too hard with asparagus because it meant she got to have it instead. And I never understood why she got so excited about it.

 

But now I do understand, and I like asparagus a lot. How did this happen?

 

I first noticed my tastes changing in 2001, after I had started losing weight and eating more mindfully. I didn’t avoid all sugar, fat, processed foods, but I did cut back on them considerably since I discovered that eating too much of them made me feel queasy and lethargic.

 

As if to balance that out, I started finding that I liked foods I had never even considered before. I started eating fish, which previously I avoided. I experimented with different vegetables, and while I’m still not a fan of some (fiddleheads, for instance, are not high on my list), I discovered that I really liked others, including Brussels sprouts and asparagus.

 

Nutrients and flavor

I started thinking about this even more after I read The Dorito Effect since the book discusses how focused people are on flavors, and how inextricably entwined flavors are with nutrients. According to the research in the book, the things that make a food taste good without added flavoring are the same things that give it nutritional content. The book also talked about nutritional wisdom, which is the ability to recognize when our bodies tell us they crave certain foods because we need certain nutrients.

 

This seems to jibe with what I discovered for myself. I found that the more I avoided processed foods, the more I enjoyed foods that didn’t have any added flavorings. They tasted good to me in a way the processed foods didn’t – they tasted like they would do me good.

 

And certainly, asparagus falls into the category of foods that will do you good. A quick search online brought up a lot of information about the health benefits of asparagus, including these five highlights:

  • It has a lot of nutrients, like fiber and vitamins A, C, E and K

  • It’s a good source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that can break down carcinogens and help fight certain forms of cancer

  • It’s loaded with antioxidants

  • It provides folate, which works with vitamin B12 to help keep our brains healthy

  • It’s a natural diuretic

 

Listening to my body’s needs

It seems, then, that I’ve learned to listen to my body’s nutritional wisdom, which makes me look forward to this asparagus, tomato, and feta salad recipe. But I’m also looking forward to other favorite foods, including sweet treats – I’ll just enjoy them with more balance and moderation.

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