By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
It's the time of year when we find globe artichokes in our local greengrocer.
On the face of it one wonders whether they should be arranged in a vase with water to be admired like flowers; they look lovely and it's hard to know where to start preparing them to eat. But let's not be daunted because globe artichokes are surprisingly good for us and particularly delicious.
More than 90% of globe artichokes in Australia are grown around the Port Phillip Bay area in the State of Victoria. Globe artichoke is seasonally available on the local markets from late autumn (May) to late spring (November) with production peaking from late winter to mid spring (August-October). The two most popular types grown are Green Globe and Purple Globe. While many cultures embrace this decorative vegetable, many people don't know what to do with it however we hope that's all about to change. Globe artichokes are delicious tasting and have some surprising health benefits.
Globe artichokes are extremely rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, such as quercetin, rutin, gallic acid and cynari which can fight against oxidative stress in the body. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce the growth of cancerous cells and therefore prevent cancerous tumours.
Antioxidants are required by the body to help slow the aging process by combatting free radicals which allowed to accumulate can cause numerous age related diseases.
People with high cholesterol are at a greater risk of developing heart disease. The antioxidant cynarin found in artichokes is one of the best natural remedies for bringing cholesterol back to a healthy level.
Globe artichokes can boost the production of digestive bile. Bile is a fluid that is made and released by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It helps to break down a fatty liver, enable digestion and improve the absorption of nutrients.
How to Buy and Use Artichokes
When selecting artichokes, the heaviest and firmest artichokes are best. The artichoke should be a healthy green or purple colour, and it should look fresh. The leaves on the stalk should be fresh and not withered and the leaves around the globe should still be closed. If you press the leaves against themselves, it will create a slight squeaking sound, which is a good indication that the artichoke is fresh.
Store artichoke in an air-tight plastic bag, and cut off the edge of the stem to keep it from spoiling while it's being stored. It's best to cook the artichoke within a week of buying it if possible.
Preparing and Cooking Artichokes
Start by rinsing the artichoke well under cold water. Cut an inch off the top of the artichoke and trim the stem. Then pull the leaves apart slightly. This will allow you to season the entire artichoke. You can also squeeze some lemon juice on it so it won't brown easily while cooking.
To preserve the antioxidants in artichokes, the best way to cook them is by steam. Place them in a steaming basket with the stem facing up, and when the water is boiling, leave them in for about 30 minutes until tender.
And now for the best bit
To eat the artichoke. pull off outer petals one at a time. Dip the base of the leaf into a sauce of your choice and pull through teeth to remove the soft, pulpy portion of the leaf. Discard the fibrous remainder. Once you consume all of the petals, remove and discard the fuzzy layer which covers the tastiest part of all, the heart.
Image sourced from www.goodstuffnw.com
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