The garden season is coming up and I thought it might be a good idea to share some "power foods" with you that you might want to think about adding to your gardening plans. Power foods are those with especially powerful nutritional properties.
The first food is the Jerusalem artichoke. The artichoke is a member of the aster family. The edible part of the plant is the inner base parts of the flower petals, plus the flower's heart.
Nutritionally, artichokes supply 25% of your daily requirement for folate, 28% of Iron requirements, and 10 gm of fiber. The kind of fiber it contains tends to soothe upset stomachs. It contains a number of B-vitamins, and has more antioxidants than most other vegetables, including Vitamin C.
The artichoke really shines when it comes to liver health. The artichoke is a plant that has a particular affinity for the liver and digestive system. It contains silymarin, the chemical constituent in Milk Thistle that is often prescribed by herbalists and naturopathic physicians to protect the liver. Silymarin supports the development of the liver's filtration cells (Kupfer cells), and acts as a liver-specific antioxidant. In addition, it has other components that stimulate bile production, which helps a liver detox and improves fat digestion.
It grows pretty well throughout the U.S. and likes cool, moist weather -- perfect Seattle-kind of weather. If frosts are not too hard, they can overwinter and behave like a good perennial.
They are best steamed. A variety of different dipping sauces add some accent to a rather bland taste. These can be anything from straight Balsamic vinegar, to lemon and butter, or your favorite salad dressing.