There's nothing quite so tempting, after a long winter, than the bright green color and delicious fresh taste of springtime vegetables.
Easy to prepare, able to assume a multitude of flavors via the seasonings of your choice, and not only is a veggie stir-fry a palate-pleaser it's good for you, too.
Take asparagus, for instance. Packed with antioxidants, it's a powerful neutralizer of free radicals, those dangerous damaged cells that can go on to damage other cells, causing a chain reaction in your body that can lead to disease.
Asparagus is also a great source of fiber; and glutathione, which helps destroy carcinogens, thus acting as a guard against cancer.
Spring onions - a.k.a. scallions - contain vitamins C and K (both critical to bone health), as well as vitamin A (good for your eyes) and phytochemicals, which boost the immune system.
Fresh soybeans (edamame) are absolutely packed with fiber; a single serving provides 9g fiber, plus 11g protein. In addition, like scallions, soybeans are high in both vitamins C and A.
Pair asparagus and flavorful scallions with edamame and garlic oil for a stir-fry that'll awaken your taste buds from their winter slumber, AND boost your health. Here's how:
Trim 1 pound asparagus by snapping off the tough ends; slice the stalks into 2" pieces. Slice the roots off the ends of two bunches of scallions, and chop them into 1" pieces, using some of the green part as well as the white.
Thaw 1 cup edamame. Cook the beans in the microwave, covered, until they're just barely tender.
Prepare the garnish by using a vegetable peeler to shave some fresh Parmesan; and frying 2 slices of prosciutto in a hot sautÃ© pan. Remove the prosciutto when it starts to curl up a bit; cut it into small strips. A pair of scissors works well here.
Pour a splash of garlic-scented olive oil into the hot pan. Add the asparagus, scallions, and edamame. Stir-fry briefly, just until the vegetables are tender.
Transfer the vegetables to individual serving plates.
Garnish each plate with some of the shaved Parmesan, diced prosciutto, and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 healthy servings!
Breast cancer survivor and award-winning author PJ Hamel, a long-time contributor to the HealthCentral community, counsels women with breast cancer through the volunteer program at her local hospital. She founded and manages a large and active online survivor support network.