If you're looking for something new to add to your dinners, I know they may look weird, but you've got to give artichokes a try.
They're in season until May, so you should have no problems finding them at the grocery store. They're low in calories (only 60 in an entire medium-sized artichoke), but they've got a pretty decent amount of fiber — 6.5 grams! Artichokes are also a great source of folate, as well as potassium and calcium. I was surprised to find that one artichoke also will give you 4.2 grams of protein. Many studies have also shown that artichokes can help keep your liver healthy. I had no idea such a weird veggie could be so chock full of goodness.
You've probably eaten artichoke hearts before (you know, the ones that come in a little jar or on your pizza), but the leaves of this veggie can also be eaten and they're just as delicious. So are you ready to give them a try? They're really easy to cook. To find out how
When shopping for the amazing artichoke, look for one that has tight leaves, and is dark green or purplish in color. Give it a gentle squeeze. It should feel firm, not limp, and when you hold it, it should feel heavy in your hand (showing that it's full of moisture).
When cooking an artichoke, I prefer to steam rather than boil to retain more of the vitamins. Here's how:
- Fill a pot with a little water, place a steamer inside, and put the lid on. Put the covered pot on the stove on medium.
- Wash the artichoke thoroughly and then remove any wilted leaves.
- Take a sharp knife and cut off the top quarter (the pointy part). Then cut off the stem so it's flush with the bottom of the artichoke.
- Put the artichoke stem-end up in the center of the steamer.
- Keep the pot covered and steam the artichoke for about 30 to 40 minutes. Add water if you need to. You'll know it's ready when the outer leaves can easily pull off and you're able to poke a knife into the base easily.
- Eat it immediately, so it's nice and warm. All you do is peel off one of the leaves, dip the end that was attached into some melted butter or lemon juice, and then scrape the soft flesh off with your teeth (the bottom third of each leaf).
- Keep going until you get to the artichoke heart. If you find some fuzzy hairlike strands, scoop those out (don't eat them), and you'll find the tender, edible heart underneath.