When you think vegetables, you think “healthy”. Asparagus takes this concept of good, healthy eating to the next level. Asparagus contains many beneficial nutrients and is a good source for baby’s potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. In addition, asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol, and is low in sodium. Asparagus is also high in folacin, which has been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, including spina bifada, which causes paralysis and death in 2,500 babies each year. Pediatricians suggest introducing asparagus into your little one’s diet at eight to 10 months. Also note – asparagus, like broccoli and cauliflower, can cause gassy tendencies, so it may be best to introduce your little one slowly to this beneficial vegetable.
Easily fitting into little fists, properly cut asparagus spears are a great “finger food” that your little one will enjoy. Prepare the asparagus by holding a spear in one hand with the other hand on the stem. Bend the spear until it snaps and toss the lower end that snapped off. You can serve asparagus hot or cold, and if you want to serve it cold, place the asparagus spears into icy water immediately after cooking to keep them from becoming mushy. Many babies love steamed asparagus spears with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Some moms add chopped asparagus to soups or stews before serving them to baby. You may also want to consider pureeing asparagus and adding to applesauce or pureed sweet potatoes for a sweet, delicious treat!
Asparagus, or “Asparagus officinalis” is a member of the lily family. Asparagus spears grow from a crown, planted about a foot deep in sandy soils. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10 inches in just a 24-hour period! Asparagus was first grown in Greece about 2,500 years ago. California is the leading U.S. producer of asparagus, growing over 50,000 tons each year. Martha Washington is one of the most popular varieties of green asparagus, named for George Washington’s wife.
Try one of these easy asparagus recipes the next time you decide to work this tasty vegetable into a meal for your family.