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This vegetable is unique for several reasons.  It is related to lilies!  It also contains combinations of nutrients not found in other foods.  It grows underground, and pops up its unique spears just before ready to eat.

First thing is how to buy.  Select ones that the stems are not withering and shriveling, and the little "leaves" on the buds are closed and dry.  It any are mushy or the stems are wrinkling, they are beginning to go; pass them by.  The color can vary from green to purple or even white!  They do not store well; try to use within 48 hours of purchase.

Second is how to cook. They can be steamed or sautéed.  An old-fashioned way is to stand them up in a tall cooking vessel with a few inches of water and cook, covered, until crisp-tender.  Not only do few of us have a proper cooking vessel, but they are harder to serve this way. They can be "sautéed" in a couple inches of broth. You can remove the tough bottom ends and steam them whole, laying down, if you have a large enough steamer basket.  Steaming conserves the most nutrients, rather than boiling.  My favorite way to steam and serve is to break the stems up.  Put a pan with the water to heat to boiling.  Rinse the asparagus.  Work with two containers;  the steamer basket and another small bowl.  Snap the entire bud tip off, and drop in the bowl,  Snap the rest of the stem into pieces, perhaps two inches long, and toss into the steamer basket.  At some point the stem won't snap, it will bend,  This is the tough bottom part which can be discarded or thrown in the mulch container. 

Place the steamer basket over the boiling water, cover, and steam for two or three minutes or until almost crisp-tender.  Add the reserved tips and steam for another minute or two until larger pieces are almost tender but still a little crunchy.  Serve with melted butter, or a sauce; classic hollandaise, or creamy and healthy Creamy Greek Sauce.   It can be added to cooked pasta, chilled added to salad and more,

Third, here are reasons to often include asparagus in your diet.   This vegetable is an excellent source of vitamins K, A, B1, B2, B6, B3, C, and  E.  It is also rich in folate, copper, selenium,  manganese, phosphorus, potassium, choline, zinc, iron, protein, quercetin and pantothenic acid.  There are other nutrients such as flavinoids, saponins, and others too "scientific" to even go into.  It contains a significant amount of dietary fiber.  It has numerous  health benefits; boosting the immune system and possibly retarding aging and cognitive decline. 

Last, let's touch on a peculiar oddity about this veggie.  It makes your pee smell funny.  Originally scientists thought this only occurred with some people.  A number of students at a university were recruited to eat asparagus and report on odor or no-odor.  Some reported an odor, some didn't.  The scientists intended to try to see what the differences in the students' physical characteristics caused this.  Fortunately, before they went to far down a dead-end road, they discovered (probably someone failed to flush the toilet after they "went") that EVERYONE had an odor in their urine; the difference is some people can smell it, most can't!   It's a harmless excretion unique to this vegetable.  Just flush after eating asparagus!

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