According to legend, Zeus saw and fell in love with a beautiful woman with ash and green hair name Cynara. He took her to Mount Olympus, but Cynara was sad and returned to Earth. When Zeus found out, he punished her by turning her into a plant that was as beautiful and strong as she was- the artichoke. The scientific name of the artichoke is Cynara Cardunculus- named after the unfortunate lover? Forgive the thorny beginning because ancient civilizations hailed artichokes as a useful medicinal plant, breath freshener, diuretic, and even a deodorant. It really wasn’t until the 20th century that artichokes became a popular, delicious food option! Now we are learning all the reason why we should enjoy this flavorful, delicious plant! (Don’t you love it when it’s the yummy things that we should be eating? Life is so good.)
Artichokes have been shown to improve several digestive issues including irritable stomach, nervous gastropathy, flatulence, and irritable bowel. Artichokes promote bile flow by increasing fat digestion and protecting intestinal mucosa which aids in treating some liver and gallbladder conditions. Artichokes also increase the breakdown of cholesterol to bile salts which regulates cholesterol in the liver. It also lowers LDL and increase HDL, making it a safe and natural way to treat high cholesterol. Artichokes are on the list of top 10 antioxidant-rich foods, which make them effective fighters against cancer, aging, and heart disease. For overall well-being, artichokes enhance detoxification and is jammed-pack with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients such as folate, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K!
Choosing & Preparing the Artichoke!
Prime artichoke season is March to May (so we’re in luck!). When you pick your artichoke, look for one with tight leaf formations and a deep green color (not one that is dry or with split leaves). Smaller artichokes, have more tender leaves, but bigger/plumper artichokes have a larger heart which is the sweet part of the artichoke! Don’t be afraid to try cooking up artichokes, it’s simple and a great way to impress your dinner guests! 😉
- Wash the artichoke.
- Cut off the stem and the top.
- Remove outermost leaves.
- Trim the tips of each leaf.
- Boil a large pot with salted water.
- Add artichoke
- Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 20-30 minutes until you can pull out a leaf from the center of the artichoke.
- Enjoy by pulling each leaf and dipping the base into butter, oil, or sauce of choice and the pulling the base through your teeth to remove the tender portion. Discard leaves.
- After all the leaves are removed, scrape off the prickly “choke” to expose the artichoke heart! Cut the heart into pieces and enjoy!
I only have 2 final thoughts today. 1. Eat Artichokes 2. Don’t upset Zeus.