With only 3 ingredients, this low-calorie, low-sodium recipe couldn’t be easier or more healthful! Steaming asparagus in the microwave keeps nutrients in and produces perfect crisp-tender results without the need for any additional fat. Lemon zest and paprika give this side dish citrusy zip, flavor and color. If you prefer your asparagus more tender, cook for a few additional minutes in step 1.
Serving side dishes like this one can help your whole family eat healthier and achieve a healthy weight. Rather than serving the main course family-style, dish out servings of heartier (more calorie-dense) fare in the kitchen and serve low-calorie vegetables on the table. That way, any appetites that require second helpings will be encouraged to take seconds of the veggies. If you’re a strict calorie-watcher, don’t be afraid to take multiple servings – it’s encouraged! Filling up on asparagus or other healthy vegetables will lead to you taking in fewer calories in the long run than if you push back from the table unsatisfied, and end up raiding the freezer for ice cream 2 hours later.
This recipe also provides a great example of how to cook with less (or without) salt. Its sure is easy to make a simple vegetable taste better with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, but if you need to reduce the sodium in your diet, skipping the salt can leave your food disappointingly bland. I hate bland. Use lemon zest and/or fresh herbs to perk up vegetables without much fuss and no added sodium or calories.
(For lemon zest, just rub a lemon on the fine side of a box grater (or a zester) to remove the yellow part. Don’t go too deep, you don’t want the bitter white layer underneath. ) Try oranges and limes too!
- 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
- Zest from one lemon
- Place asparagus in a ceramic or glass casserole dish with a lid. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the dish. Cover and microwave 5 minutes. Stir and check for doneness. (If desired, cook 1-2 additional minutes.)
- Drain water from casserole dish and pat asparagus with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Sprinkle evenly with lemon zest and paprika and serve.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 23 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g total carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g protein, 2 mg sodium.
What’s your favorite way to perk up vegetables without adding lots of fat or calories? Leave a comment!