All posts by Madeline Schmidt

The Food of Kings

Revered for its tender shoots and delicious flavor but highly perishable, asparagus has been a status symbol in many cultures. To obtain the freshest asparagus, Roman emperors reserved a special fleet of ships to transport asparagus. In Italy during the Renaissance, asparagus was a delicacy only the wealthy could afford. King Louis the 14th of France had special greenhouses constructed so he could enjoy asparagus year round. Luckily, you don’t need to rule a nation to enjoy asparagus. Drop by your local grocery store and enjoy this tasty vegetable today.

Need a reason besides its wonderful flavor? Asparagus is also a wonderfully nutritious addition to your meal:

  • One cup of asparagus has all of the vitamin K you need for an entire day.
  • Asparagus is also a good source of vitamins A, C, & E; B vitamins; choline; and minerals.
  • In addition to providing fiber, asparagus may also support digestive health through a special type of fiber called inulin which helps healthy probiotics grow in your digestive system.

Asparagus is an easy vegetable to cook. It can be sautéed, boiled, steamed, mixed into a casserole, or even microwaved in a little water for about seven minutes. You will need to break the fibrous base off of most stalks, especially those that are thicker. Simply grasp the asparagus by its base and mid stalk; then bend it until the base breaks away. Asparagus is more perishable than most produce. After purchasing, try to enjoy your asparagus within two days for the best flavor and texture.

Asparagus season is just getting started. As one of the earliest vegetables to come in season, it’s a great buy in your local produce department. The season lasts until May so enjoy them while you can. Add some royal decadence to your next meal with a delicious and wholesome side of asparagus.

The Amazing Kiwi

The scientific name for kiwi is very appropriate, actinidia deliciosa. Now I have no idea where actinidia comes from but completely agree with the deliciosa part. Once you get past the tough and creepily hairy outside, the bright green fruit of the kiwi is a delicious treat! Whether eating it straight out of the skin or enjoying its unique color in a fruit salad, the kiwi never disappoints. In nutrient content, the kiwi continues to perform. With more fiber and nearly double the potassium and vitamin C of an orange, there’s no denying the nutritiousness of the kiwi.

Now let’s talk about that hairy skin and other odd quirks. At first the kiwi fuzz might be a turnoff for some. Peeling off the skin with a paring knife or slicing the kiwi and scooping out the flesh are common solutions. A lazy option (and I do love to be a lazy cook) is to simply rub the skin vigorously to remove the fuzz and then eat the fruit whole. The skin is surprisingly thin and unobtrusive.

Another common complaint about the kiwi is how quickly they spoil after being cut. Unfortunately there is no lazy solution here. Kiwis contain enzymes which are activated when it’s cut. Once activated, the enzymes quickly begin breaking it down as well as any other fruit they come in contact with. Cut your kiwi as soon before eating it as possible and don’t plan on saving any leftovers. This doesn’t apply to cooked dishes because the enzymes are deactivated with heat.

In honor of this nutritious and delicious fruit, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ways to enjoy kiwi (in no particular order):

  • Fresh, right out of (or including) the skin
  • Dried into kiwi chips
  • Cut in a fruit or green salad
  • Cut over cereal or pancakes
  • Chopped in plain yogurt or parfait
  • Baked into bread
  • Pureed in a smoothie
  • Juiced or pureed in a mixed drink
  • In jams and jellies
  • Mixed in sauces or marinades
  • Sliced over ice cream or shortcake
  • Topping for fruit pizza

No matter how you enjoy your nutritious kiwis, enjoy them while they last. California kiwi are available through winter and into spring. Get yours before they’re gone.