The edible part of the plant comes from the softer middle to bottom of the flesh of the green petals, the center of the stem, and the inner artichoke heart. The thistly portion in the center looks like pale green or purple hair, so pull that part off before enjoying the luxuriously velvety textured heart. After boiling, steaming, grilling, or baking, we eat the vegetable by turning the petals over and scraping the inside edges against our front top and bottom teeth. Some folks like to dip the bottom of the petals in olive oil, butter, mayonnaise, herb aioli, or salad dressing, one petal at a time. I prefer a bowl of melted butter. The slow process of eating a whole artichoke can be a mindful eating activity. It is a satisfying and slow meal time. The largest artichokes may take up to an hour to steam or boil, so prepare some appetizers while you wait for the hero!
The artichoke is extremely nutritious. It has phytochemicals, antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, niacin, and folate. Artichokes contain a lot of fiber, some of which comes in the form of the fabulous prebiotic fiber called inulin. A prebiotic feeds the probiotics living in our intestines. We cannot digest the fiber, so the plant fiber makes us have a bowel movement, but the healthy bacteria living in the the gut microbiome eats the fiber as their meal. Probiotics living in the intestines help us absorb the nutrients from the foods we eat.
If you don't want to take the time to prepare fresh artichokes, canned and frozen artichoke hearts are also available. Be mindful of the ingredients list on the packaging. They often have added salt and preservatives which alter the flavor. It is also fun to try jarred marinated artichoke hearts from Spain and Italy. The olive oil and herbs they are held in add to the flavor of any dish made. Try adding the marinated jarred variety to salads, pizzas, and artichoke dips!
How do you like to prepare your artichokes? I want to hear from you!
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