Monday, May 17, 2010

Rhubarb & Asparagus: A Match Made in Heaven?

In the last few years, I've focused more on eating seasonally. It wasn't a specific decision made one day, but more of a natural progression as I learn about the health benefits in partaking in foods that were grown fresh in your area rather than items shipped from half way around the world that are a couple of weeks old by the time you bring it into your home. Again, this h become more of a focus of mine, not a rule.

Having said that, I'd like to put the spotlight on two vegetables that are currently in season (in MN anyway) that seem to have a designed purpose for making their grand appearance at the same time in the Spring: Asparagus and Rhubarb.

Three things I'd like to cover with these two darling produce items:
1. How they operate in the body
2. How eating both of them (but probably not at the same time :-) can actually balance areas of the body out.
3. Yummy recipes that are worth making tonight.

Known as a fruit but botanically a vegetable, rhubarb is a dessert staple in many Minnesotan kitchens in the Spring and early Summer. With a few exceptions, the stalks of the rhubarb plant are cooked alongside plenty of sugar to tame the otherwise tart flavor. It is the root of the rhubarb that is sought after for medicinal value. The stalk carries an array of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, beta carotene, folic acid (Vitamin B9), and Vitamin C. Something to be aware of: the STALK does contain oxalic acid. Also, the rhubarb LEAF carries a lethal dose of oxalic acid and therefore should NEVER be consumed. When oxalic acid is consumed excessively, it can be harmful. It is stored throughout the body and not recommended for those who have a history of calcium oxalate based kidney stones. For those who love to partake in the short season of rhubarb, not to worry, it has a friend to balance the negative effects out: the humble asparagus.

This vegetable was used to relieve the pain of toothaches and the prevention of bee stings by the Romans and Greeks. It's a natural laxative as well as a diuretic, which helps break up the uric and oxalic acid stored in the body which is most commonly found in the kidneys and muscles (read rhubarb description above), and removed through the urine. This often produces a strong odor that is temporary. Not only is this vegetable a great blood builder because of it's chlorophyll content, but also builds up the skin, liver, kidneys, bones, and ligaments. Asparagus is also a cancer fighter.


This is a simple and fantastic recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It's more like a compote, helps digestion, and hits the sweet spot after a meal without overdoing it.

Stewed Rhubarb
6 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp freshly ground ginger
a little less than 1/2 cup water
cup raw honey

Place rhubarb, ginger and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb disintegrates. Allow to cool and stire in honey to taste.

You don't need to dress up the humble asparagus. This simple roasted recipe makes the asparagus hold the superstar status that it deserves! Thicker stalks of asparagus when roasting at this temp ensures them not dry out.

Roasted Asparagus
1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Wash and trim asparagus. Place in a single layer in roasting pan. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast the asparagus in upper third of oven until tender, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment