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Three Titans of Taste

As we thaw out from the winter, there are some vegetables that come into season in April and May, that thrive in our delightful and cool Colorado climate. Among those vegetables are three titans of taste; spinach, radishes and asparagus. All three are vitamin and nutrient rich helping to boost healthy lifestyle and overall wellness. Spinach alone is always in the top 10 superfood listings.

Spinach is considered a superfood for many reasons. It has antioxidant and anticancer properties, is rich in protein and vitamins including vitamins A, C and E. Spinach is a great source of vitamin K that plays a critical role in protecting your heart, bone health, and helps your blood to clot properly. Spinach is also one of the best sources of dietary magnesium which is necessary for energy metabolism, maintaining muscle and nerve function, regular heart rhythm, a healthy immune system and maintaining an optimum blood pressure. Many of you may know these health facts already, but did you know some of these odd facts about spinach (courtesy of Wikipedia)? Spinach is a native plant of Persia (modern day Iran), it was most probably brought to Europe in the 12th century and to the U.S. in 1806. In the 1930’s, U.S. growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption. Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.

Radishes, while not the most popular vegetable on the veggie tray, are not only packed with nutrients, but can add beautiful color to dishes like salad and stir fry. Radishes are a good source of vitamin C. A half cup serving offers about 14% of your recommended daily intake. According to Linus Pauling Institute (focused on vitamins and other essential micronutrients and their role in enhancing health and preventing disease), cruciferous vegetables, like radishes, help purge the body of cancer-causing substances and prevent tumor development. A half cup of radishes gives you 1 gram of fiber, which supports a healthy digestive system. Fiber also may help manage blood sugar levels and has been linked to weight loss and lower cholesterol. Again, like spinach, these are just a few of the benefits that can be reaped by adding them into your diet. But did you know some of these fun facts about radishes (courtesy of Wikipedia)? The annual Noche de Rabanos or Night of the Radishes Festival in Mexico, takes place 24 hours prior to Christmas Eve. Mexican sculptors create Nativity scenes using very large radishes. Radishes, onions, and garlic were paid as “wages” to the Ancient Egyptian laborers who built the Pyramids. It is believed that to see a garden of radishes in a dream signifies prosperous business and kind friends.

Last, but not least, asparagus is also packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Just a half cup of cooked asparagus contains 2.2 grams of protein, 1.8 grams of fiber, 57% RDI (recommended daily intake) of vitamin K, 18% RDI of vitamin A, 12% RDI of vitamin C, and 34% RDI of folate. Folate health benefits include reducing risk of heart disease and cancer development, promoting healthy pregnancy and fetal development, and boosting the immune system and fertility. So why does our urine smell weird after eating asparagus? The culprit of urine odor from asparagus is caused by the naturally occurring sulfurous compounds that it contains. This compound is called asparagusic acid. While it doesn’t harm the body in any way, it does cause that smell after you eat something that contains it, such as asparagus (referenced from Healthline.com). If that is not odd enough, here are some more facts about asparagus (courtesy of Wikipedia)! It is said that Queen Nefrititi proclaimed asparagus to be the food of the Gods. More than 50,000 tons of asparagus are grown in California every year—70% of all asparagus grown in the U.S. White asparagus comes from the same plant as green asparagus, but is grown underground to block sunlight and prevent photosynthesis, thus inhibiting production of chlorophyll.

As we head into our most active spring and summer months, here in Colorado, adding these spring harvest happy veggies into our diets can give us that kick start into optimum health and wellness. Check the recipe page for recipes that I particularly found delectable using these featured vegetables. Also included are some pictures of great items for veggie prep, serving and storage. Recipes from cookbooks and kitchen items can all be found at The Cupboard. Enjoy!

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