Artichokes are flowers. Crazy, right? If left alone, they'll bloom into a striking purple flower. The reason I picked this particular power food for this week is because of the fact that it is a very good detoxifier - something The Stallion definitely needs after celebrating his 30th birthday last week. Artichokes promote liver health and soothe digestive ailments due to the powerful antioxidant silymarin, which boosts liver function by stimulating cell regeneration and scavenging for free radicals. They also contain cynarin - found primarily in the leaves - which promotes the liver's bile production, in turn helping break down fatty foods.
Artichokes are pretty easy to pick. Look for firm, heavy, medium-sized artichokes. To test for freshness, squeeze the artichoke and listen for a squeaky sound. They're not in season right now, and that was apparent to us tonight, but I'm so ready for warmer weather and the fresh cuisine that goes along with it that I don't care!
A dipping sauce made of herbs and greek yogurt accompanies the artichokes. Thanks to the Activia commercials, I think most of America is aware of the digestive benefits of yogurt. What you may not know is that the lactic acid in yogurt makes its calcium easier to digest, and the cultures in yogurt ease the body's absorption of calcium. So even if a serving of milk and yogurt contain the same amount of calcium, your body gets more of it if you choose yogurt. Yogurt WIN.
This is a very simple dish to prepare, the bulk of your time will be spent prepping the artichokes, but it's still not long.
When they're through steaming, you'll spoon out the thin, purple-edged leaves and fuzzy choke.
Have you eaten a whole artichoke before? You pick off each leaf and use your teeth to scrape the meat from the base of each one.
It's a lot of work with not much reward for awhile, but then you reach the center. All that work pays off once you get to the heart. And going through this process will likely cause you to appreciate the amount of work that goes into harvesting artichoke hearts and thus, why they're a pricey.
Maybe if each one of you makes this, Spring will come early! Likely not, but isn't it worth a try?
Steamed Artichokes with Tarragon-Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Power Foods
- 1 lemon
- 4 globe artichokes
- 3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (2 percent)
- 1 t finely grated lemon zest
- 1 T + 1 t fresh lemon juice
- 1 T finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Prepare a bowl of water large enough to hold all of the artichokes. Peel 1 lemon with a vegetable peeler, then cut in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl.
- Remove any tough outer leaves from artichokes. Cut off the top quarter of each. Use kitchen shears to trim sharp tips of the leaves. Trim stem just enough that artichoke can stand upright; place in lemon water to keep from turning brown while prepping other artichokes.
- Fill a large pot with 2 inches water; set a steamer basket inside pot, and bring water to a boil. Place the lemon peel and artichokes, stem side down, in the basket. Cover and steam until the bases of artichokes are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together remaining ingredients to make the sauce, seasoning to taste.
- When artichokes are cool enough to handle, use a small spoon to scoop out center cone; scrape out purple leaves and fuzzy choke. Peek inside to be sure you get it all.
per serving (1/4 cup sauce): 30 calories; .6g saturated fat; 0g unsaturated fat; 2.8mg cholesterol; 2.3g carbohydrates; 3.6g protein; 495mg sodium; 2g fiber