Cooking with Tammy Kelly: Artichokes are a super food!

Cooking with Tammy Kelly: Artichokes are a super food!

Who knew that artichoke hearts are a super food? The term “super food” is basically used to market foods that are nutrient rich and have a greater capacity to affect health. It turns out artichokes are one of them!

They may look somewhat intimidating, but artichokes have some of the highest levels of antioxidants and fiber of any vegetable!

Artichokes don’t exactly make everyone’s list of favorite foods. Artichoke hearts are not only delicious, but they may also help trim belly fat. The fiber-rich vegetable is a prebiotic, which means they have non-digestible components that feed probiotics, the good bacteria in your gut that can help maintain a healthy weight, among other benefits. 

The top five benefits of artichokes include: they aid in the control of diabetes, they improve skin appearance and health, due to the high fiber content they aid in weight loss, they aid in the detoxification of the liver and digestive system and they can aid in the prevention of cancers.  

Here are some healthy options for your artichoke adventure!

Pan Roasted Artichokes 

6 cups water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

18 baby artichokes (about 1 3/4 pounds)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large garlic cloves, halved

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

1 (6-inch) rosemary sprig

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Combine water and 3 tablespoons juice in a bowl. Cut off top 1/2-inch of artichokes. Cut stems to within 1 inch of bases; peel stems. Remove tough outer leaves, leaving tender cores. Halve each lengthwise; add to water.

Drain artichokes; pat dry. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl; toss to coat. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add half of artichoke mixture to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining artichoke mixture. Return artichokes to pan; add lemon slices and rosemary. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes, stirring once. Remove rosemary leaves, and sprinkle over artichoke mixture; discard stem and any blackened lemon. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Serves 6, each serving contains; Calories 128, Fat 7g. Protein 4 g., Carbohydrate 16 g., Fiber 8g., Cholesterol 0g., Sodium 223mg.

Artichoke Pasta and Veggies 

8 ounces uncooked rotini pasta, or other whole grain pasta

2 cups (2-inch) cut asparagus

1 cup (2 x 1/2-inch) cut yellow bell pepper

1 can artichoke hearts, chopped and drained

4 cups of chopped raw spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

12 grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or shredded (about 1/4 cup)

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add asparagus, spinach, artichoke, and bell pepper to pan; drain.

Combine pasta mixture, olive oil, salt, and tomatoes in a large bowl; toss to coat. Sprinkle with basil, pine nuts, and cheese.  Serves 4.  

Spinach Artichoke Casserole

2 cooked skinless chicken breast

2 tbsp. Olive oil 

1/2 cup whole milk cottage cheese 

3/4 cup sour cream

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried thyme

Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

2 cups fresh spinach

18 oz. artichoke hearts, halved 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish with healthy fat of choice and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add cooked shredded chicken, olive oil, cottage cheese and sour cream. Give it a quick stir to combine. Add 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, parsley, sea salt, garlic, thyme, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir until fully combined and evenly distributed. 

Gently fold in the spinach and artichoke hearts just until combined. Pour mixture into the greased casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese over the top of the casserole. 

Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-50 minutes, or until the cheesy top is lightly golden brown. Let the casserole sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Yields 8-12 servings.  

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash 

1 (2½ to 3 pound) spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

3 tablespoons water, divided

1 (5 ounce) package baby spinach

1 (10 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed and softened

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

¼ teaspoon salt 

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Crushed red pepper & chopped fresh basil for garnish

Place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish; add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on High until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400°F until tender, 40 to 50 minutes.)

Meanwhile, combine spinach and the remaining 1 tablespoon water in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.

Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl. Place the shells on a baking sheet. Stir artichoke hearts, cream cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the squash shells and top with the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan. Broil until the cheese is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and basil, if desired.

Serves 4, each serving contains; Calories 223, Fat 11g. Protein 10g., Carbohydrate 23g., Fiber 9g., Cholesterol 28g., Sodium 523mg.

WW Artichoke Soup (3 WW Free Style points) 

2 cans (14 ounces each) artichoke hearts, drained

1 can (10.75 ounces) 98% fat-free cream of cream of mushroom soup

1 can (10.75 ounces) 98% fat-free cream of celery soup

2/3 cup skim milk

1-1/3 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup dry white wine

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and Pepper, to taste

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Place the artichokes in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Add the mushroom soup, celery soup, milk, chicken broth, white wine and cayenne pepper. Process until smooth and well blended.

Transfer to a pot and warm gently over low heat.

Taste and adjust seasonings and serve.

Serves 5, each serving contains; Calories 126, Fat 3g. Protein 5g., Carbohydrate 15g., Fiber 3g.

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