Conscious Cook: The beauty of rebirth

“For I remember that it is Easter Morn and life and love and peace are all new born.” — Alice Freeman Palmer

Spring brings the promise of rebirth and renewal. After the long days of winter, it is so hopeful to embrace longer days filled with light. Just as the earth begins to renew itself with bright blooms and sunshine, we too can revive our spirits.

Easter Sunday is a joyous day of rebirth and many celebrate with a festive and delicious meal, shared with loved ones. A perfect occasion to highlight fresh spring produce, the Easter meal can be a bountiful brunch, lively lunch or full-scale dinner. Fresh asparagus is often featured at all of these meals, as it is one of springs’ most delectable ingredients.

Prized for its’ unique flavor, asparagus has been revered for centuries. In ancient Roman times, only the wealthy could afford the succulent delicacy now known as the “King of Spring.” Roman emperors employed special asparagus fleets to fetch it for their tables. King Louis XIV of France commanded greenhouses be built for growing asparagus, that he might enjoy their exquisite flavor year-round.

The health benefits of asparagus are also quite divine. Asparagus contains potent amounts of B vitamins, which may help regulate blood sugar levels. Significant amounts of fiber and protein are found in asparagus, both of which are essential for promoting excellent digestion and maintaining a strong immune system. Anti-inflammatory compounds found in asparagus may help protect against heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Asparagus contains plenty of vitamin A, for vision protection and vitamin K which can help strengthen bones and promote healthy blood clotting.

A thing of beauty itself, eating asparagus is a natural beauty treatment, as the antioxidant content may lessen the effects of sun damage and pollution, reducing the effects of aging and encouraging a more beautiful, youthful appearance!

Choose brightly-colored spears with no signs of yellowing or dried out tips at the market. Store upright in a glass of water in your refrigerator until ready to use.

Use pristine spring asparagus to make a fabulous salad for your Easter or other spring feasts. Slightly thicker spears will work better for this preparation. Rinse off the asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off long, thin strips. Pile the strips onto a salad plate and dress with a very good olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Scatter freshly shaved parmesan on top and season with a touch of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Or try a big tray of oven roasted asparagus to nourish guests.

May you always experience the beauty of rebirth as you prepare a delicious life.

Roasted Spring Asparagus

Serves 4-6

2 pounds fresh asparagus spears, well rinsed and patted dry

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

fresh lemon zest

fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Place spears on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and roll spears around until coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 5 to 8 minutes, testing every few minutes to be sure they don’t overcook.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon juice and zest. Serve immediately.

Robin Glowa , HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.