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Artichokes Healthy Recipe: How to prepare, cook and eat

artichoke.jpgby Jill Jayne, M.S., R.D.

ARTICHOKE NUTRITION FACTS
Artichokes are low in calories—about 65 each—and naturally fat-free. With 10 grams of fiber per medium artichoke and high amounts of potassium; magnesium; and antioxidants, including vitamin C, artichokes are a great veggie choice to help reduce your risk for heart disease and cancer. They’re even part of the famed Mediterranean diet. So give this prickly plant a chance!


HOW TO PICK AN ARTICHOKE
The trick to making a delicious artichoke is to start with a good one. The edible parts are the lower portions of the leaves and the base, called the heart. The choke—the fuzzy center— is always inedible, but the heart can be inedible in older, larger flowers, so look for globes that have not yet budded, are deep green and have a tight leaf formation.


ARTICHOKE STORAGE TIPS

Artichokes can maintain optimum freshness for about a week, but it’s best to use them as soon as possible. Store fresh ones in a plastic bag in the crisper.


newsletter-graphic-free2SIMPLE FRESH ARTICHOKE RECIPE
Though recipes may call for canned artichoke, my Italian friend Aldo Sampieri nostalgically says of his grandmother’s artichokes, “You have to work for it, but the heart is the reward for your meal.”

Whole artichokes can be eaten boiled, steamed or fried right off the plant, or put into pasta, risotto or pizza. Here’s one way to prepare them.

  1. Remove all but 1 inch of the stem.
  2. Remove the leaves’ thorns with scissors.
  3. Slice ¾ of an inch from the tip of the artichoke.
  4. Pull away any smaller leaves at the base.
  5. Rinse in cold running water.
  6. Stuff garlic, Italian spices, bay leaves, and/or lemon between the leaves.
  7. Put the artichoke in a large pot.
  8. Add a few inches of water. Bring to a boil.
  9. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes with the lid ajar (to keep the choke from turning brown)—until you can easily pull the bottom leaf from the base.
  10. Pull off the petals one at a time, dip the fleshy end into your favorite sauce (such as melted butter, lemon juice, vinegar and mayo) and pull the petal through your teeth. Eat the meat but discard the petal.
  11. Remove the choke with a spoon.
  12. Enjoy the fruit of your labor, the heart!


“Rockstar Nutritionist”
JILL JAYNE, M.S., R.D., is president and creative director of Note to Health LLC, a health media company specializing in age-appropriate, interactive presentations. Learn more more and buy her CD for kids here .

Last updated and/or approved March 2010. Article originally appeared in March/April 2009 former print magazine.

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