Eat Empowered

The Amazing Artichoke: How to Steam Them, Cook With Them and Much More

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Spring is just around the corner, and that means one thing: Delicious spring veggies are going to be showing up in produce aisles very soon. One of my all-time favorite spring veggies is the artichoke.

Why do I love artichokes so much? Read on to find out.

Health Benefits of Artichokes

Artichokes have a unique flavor that works well in many recipes (and you know you love them in dips!) But there are numerous health benefits to artichokes as well.

They are low in fat and calories but rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They have been popular for their ability to lower cholesterol, improve digestion and boost heart, brain and liver health.

Artichokes also contain a powerhouse flavonoid called luteolin, which protects the brain—particularly from brain fog—while increasing memory, fighting inflammation and free radicals, and preventing cholesterol formation.

Artichoke leaf extract encourages your body to process cholesterol more efficiently, leading to lower overall levels. It also helps prevent plaque deposits in your arteries, thus helping in the fight against heart disease. (The battle is real!)

It’s no wonder that artichokes are native to the Mediterranean region and a staple of the uber-healthy Mediterranean diet. I’ve even highlighted them in my book, “The O2 Diet”, because artichokes are not only healthy but they’re delicious and fun to eat.

Yes, artichokes can be intimidating with their prickly thorns, spiky leaves and fibrous, hairy choke. But once you learn how to work with them, you’ll be hooked. I promise.

Below, watch my quick tutorial on how to steam them if you want to eat them in their most wholesome state.

10 Simple Steps to Steaming an Artichoke

 

Step-by-Step Guide to Steaming an Artichoke

1. Pick an artichoke with tight leaves that feels dense.
2. Rinse it thoroughly in cold water.
3. Cut the tips of its leaves (or bracts) off and trim the remaining leaves.
4. Rub lemon across the trimmed top to reduce oxidation.
5. Cut the artichoke stem so 1 inch remains.
6. Place it in a steamer and bring the water to a boil. Steam for approximately 30 minutes.
7. Remove artichoke from steam and appreciate its amazingness!
8. Peel off the outer leaves.
9. Eat the artichoke by scraping the leaves between your teeth.
10. Peel off the soft baby leaves and cut off the fuzzy part (choke). Enjoy!

Fun Facts About Artichokes

They’re a thistle: Artichokes aren’t technically vegetables, but rather the edible flower buds of a plant in the thistle family. They’re harvested before the plant’s flowers come into bloom.

It’s called a choke for a reason: To get to the edible parts of an artichoke, which are the heart and inner leaves (technically called bracts), you first have to strip away the intimidating, inedible parts. This includes the outer leaves (or bract) and the choke, which is the hairy, throat-clogging portion of the plant that buds into a flower if left to mature.

A small town in California is the artichoke capital of the world: Castroville in California’s Monterey County not only grows most of the state’s artichokes, but it’s also home to the annual Castroville Artichoke Festival. The fest has been going on since 1960, but has gotten so big in recent years that it had to be moved out of the town to a nearby convention center.

Now that I’ve given you a lot of reasons to love artichokes, read on for some artichoke recipes I love.

Eat More Artichokes

Artichokes can be eaten raw, steamed, baked, roasted, grilled or fried, and their flavor evolves with each iteration. Here are a few delicious recipes featuring the delicious, nutrient-dense and underrated … artichoke!

Roasted Artichoke Hearts

antioxidant-packed recipes

You can roast them with just a little extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper for a crispy touch. They work as a side dish on their own or as a topper on salads, a flavor enhancer in a spinach artichoke pasta or even in an artichoke soup.

Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Salad

Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Salad

Hearts of palm and artichokes are the perfect burst of spring flavors in a salad and the antidote for when you’re just tired of the same old kale and spinach salads.

Veggie variety not only prevents you from getting bored of your healthy diet, it’s also important to ensure you’re getting in a wide range of nutrients.

Stuffed Chicken Breast With Lemon-Artichoke Pesto

stuffed-chicken-breast

Artichoke pairs really well with chicken and it plays a starring role in this recipe. Followed by walnuts, fresh basil and antioxidant-rich garlic.

It’s a far cry from the standard stuffed chicken of cordon bleu fame, which is typically stuffed with ham and cheese, then breaded and covered with a thick, creamy sauce.

The only similarity between that and our recipe is the stuffed chicken. Chicken with artichoke might not be traditional like cordon bleu, but something tells us the French would still approve.

(Images: Shutterstock)

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