Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Artichoke-Reloaded

Consider the artichoke.....a dieter's delight....low in calories, fun to snack on, easy to cook, time consuming to eat. I have a delicious recipe for stuffed artichokes (every good Italian girl does) and they are loaded with parmesean and romano pecorino cheeses, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. It is one of my most requested dishes (usually served as an appetizer but hearty enough to be a main course). I am not going to share that recipe today. I have a healthier version I want to share but before I do that, let's take a look at this magnificent green bud.

The artichoke is an excellent source of dietary magnesium, fiber, vitamins A and C, folic acid, chromium, potassium, biotin, maganese, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and a carbohydrate that is in the form of insulin. Whew!

As one of the most nutrient packed vegetables on the planet, artichokes are hugely beneficial to our health. Diabetics who include artichokes in their diet can reap rewards because they contain a carbohydrate-in the form of insulin-which is a starch that is handled by the body differently than other carbs and sugars.

Other benefits include the treatment of many liver diseases. Artichoke leaves contain caffeoylquinic acids. These acids help to promote the flow of bile and fat to and from the liver and can also aid in the treatment of hepatitis. Artichokes help relieve the symptoms of rheumatism, prevent atherosclerosis, alleviate various kidney ailments, and promote the growth of healthy bacteria within the digestive tract.

Artichokes are now currently in season through the month of May so take advantage of them! Steam them up and serve them with a low calorie, low fat dip, drizzle them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and double-wrap in foil and bake them at 425 degrees for about an hour, or if you are feeling adventurous, try this vegetarian stuffed artichoke recipe!

4 large globe artichokes
2 lemons, 1 cut in half, one juiced
2/3 cup bulgur
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
2 medium carrots, finely grated
2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2cup feta cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the artichoke stems and discard. Slice off the top inch of 1 artichoke. Using kitchen shears, cut off the sharp tip of each leaf. Separate leaves and pull out enough from the center to reveal the fuzzy choke. Scoop out the choke with a teaspoon and squeeze some juice from 1 lemon half into the cavity, then use the other lemon half to rub the artichoke all over to prevent discoloration. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Pour lemon juice into boiling water; add artichokes. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, place the bulgur and garlic in a heatproof bowl. Bring one cup of vegetable broth to a boil; pour over the bulgur. Cover and let sit for about 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Mix in the next 6 ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain cooked artichokes on papertowels for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking dish. Spoon the bulgur stuffing into each artichoke cavity, then pull leaves apart and fill the spaces between them. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable broth into bottom of dish. Drizzle olive oil over artichokes. Bake for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
Serves 4 as a main course.

The artichoke might not look like much and it does take some time and effort to get to the gorgeous and beautiful heart...which is where all the richness and true flavor is. It reminds me of love and life...getting to the heart takes work but it is so worth the effort.

And this is my Daily Cyn..........

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