This green flower-like looking plant is not really the usual side dish that you would get in a restaurant. And no wonder! It is a bit difficult to eat to be honest unless you buy the marinated or canned artichoke hearts. You will find the hearts very often in Italian restaurants as antipasti or as a toping on pizza.
The artichoke is actually a thistle and the edible parts are the flower buds just before the flowers come into bloom. You can find the full fresh vegetable recently more often in health food stores. And there is a reason for it.
Not only is the artichoke a low calorie veggie – only 60 calories for a medium size whole artichoke – but it also has great health benefits. It is a good source of magnesium, potassium, and folate and these minerals improve muscle function and heart health. But the best part of the benefits is the ability to promote liver health and to help digestion issues like bloating, pain, and nausea. The antioxidant silymarin helps the liver cope with toxins and stimulates cell regeneration. Another compound called cynarin helps promote bile production which in turn helps break down fatty foods.
All good news, no? Now what can you do with it? I have a fun way of eating it. I boil the whole artichoke until the petals come off easily. This depends on the size of the artichoke but it is around 25 – 30 minutes. While the artichoke is cooking I prepare different dips: avocado, salsa or even home made mayonnaise. To eat it, you break of each leaf and dip the wide part in the prepared sauces and draw the soft fleshy bit through your teeth. It’s really fun!
Tip: Try to stick to home-made dips and not the ready-made ones from the shop. They are full of sugar, preservatives and all those nasties that you don’t want to put into your body.
Once you finished all the leaves you can scrap off the fluffy stuff (a bit difficult I have to admit) and you can still enjoy the heart of the artichoke. Yummmm!
Next time before you sit down to watch a movie prepare 1-2 artichokes and forget about the nachos and crisps.