(CNN) -- — May the spargel be with you - it's National Asparagus Month!
For many, it isn't spring until asparagus arrives. Ancient Romans and Greeks prized asparagus spears not only for their deliciousness but for their alleged medicinal properties. They weren't far off: Asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol, and is low in sodium.
There are a few general guidelines to stick to when buying asparagus: Look for a bunch with bright green coloring and firm stalks.
Thicker asparagus tends to be very fibrous and tough; it can be eaten, but should be peeled and blanched first.
The woody ends of the stalk should be snapped off. To do this, simply hold the stalk at each end and bend - it'll snap where it's supposed to.
Many American grocery stores now carry white asparagus as well. This isn't another type or species of vegetable, it's really just a stalk that has yet to see the light of day. (Sunlight turns asparagus green.) White asparagus are sweeter and more tender. Parts of Europe exclusively eat the white version; the French especially enjoy the unsunned spear.
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