Scale by scale,
We strip off
The peaceful mush
Of its green heart.”
These are the last lines from “Ode to the Artichoke” by the incomparable poet, Pablo Neruda.
Neruda obviously loved this rather menacing- looking, spiky vegetable. I wonder if he knew all the amazing health benefits of the cynara scolymus, or that he was simply enamored of it’s leaves that contain a little pouch of sweet starchy meat at the base, or perhaps he fell head over heels over the delicately nutty and floral flavor of the heart once it was revealed? Most likely, he knew that it was an aphrodisiac! Well, whatever the reasons, I am glad that he wrote an ode to one of my (and my fluffy white dog’s) favorite detox foods. (For super easy preparation instructions and fascinating factoids, see end of this page.)
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fall is the ideal season for detoxification of the large intestine, and the globe artichoke is the perfect food for the occasion.
The artichoke is a powerhouse of nutrition and is a superstar vegetable to help facilitate detox during the autumnal months . It indirectly supports the large intestine by enhancing bile production. The active ingredient, cynarine, has been well studied for it’s ability to enhance bile production by the liver.
You can do an easy 3-day Autumn detox by eating artichokes, beets, and drinking dandelion tea. Please feel free to contact me if you want more information on the benefits of detoxification.
Or if you want to join our “Dump the Junk” detox workshop, click here.
Here are more benefits of the globe artichoke:
- helps to lower triglycerides
- contains fiber, as well as potassium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus
- lowers blood sugar levels for those who are worried about hypoglycemia.
- improves skin tone by helping to remove excess water and toxins from the body.
- the carbohydrate portion contains inulin, an oligosaccharide (long chain sugar molecule) that feeds the good bacteria in our colon ,or large intestine.
- because it improves bile quality, artichokes help us to digest and absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Here’s a super easy way to prepare an artichoke. Actually, I usually cook 3 or 4 at a time. Simply place a steaming tray in a pot with about 2″ of water and steam with a cover on for about 20 minutes or more.
The artichokes are done when the heart is cooked through. You can test by piercing from the bottom with a small knife. The leaves will also pull away easily. (Be sure to not let the water go dry under the steaming tray.)
I love to dip the leaves and hearts in a simple and elegant mixture of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and Celtic sea salt.
Here’s how to enjoy the leaves: Grab the tip of the leaf, dip it in the olive oil mixture, melted butter, or “as is” and scrape the lower part of the leaf off into your mouth with your teeth.
Some fascinating factoids on the artichoke:
- Nearly all of the artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.
- Marilyn Monroe was the first official California Artichoke Queen in 1949.
- During the 16th century, women were forbidden to eat artichokes. The fairer sex was denied because it was considered to be an aphrodisiac that only men could enjoy.
- The Moors of N. Africa introduced the artichoke (“al”quarshuf” in Arabic) to Spain around 800 A.D. by cultivating them in Granada.
Encyclopedia of Foods by Dr. Michael Murray