There are so many vegetables and fruits that it’s difficult to select one to wear the crown. I have a habit of carrying my first coffee out to the garden to watch the birds and admire the crops. Between the leafy greens, herb garden, and fruit trees, I find a lot to love.
However, there is only one vegetable that is so beautiful when it goes to seed that I often forgo eating it to admire its floral display. It is the artichoke, and it is my favorite vegetable.
I had never seen an artichoke during my Alaskan childhood. It was one of those secret surprises that awaited me when I moved to California for college. I had no idea how to eat this thistle-relative the first time one appeared on my plate, but I was a quick study.
Today artichokes are among my favorite vegetables. I prefer eating them whole and doing the work myself rather than buying canned artichoke hearts. I love the time it takes to degust the choke, from the first pulpy leaf to the final delight of the hidden heart.
Artichokes are good for you too! The total antioxidant content of artichoke flower heads is at the top of the list for vegetables. They are very high in fiber as well as nutrients that help with red blood cell formation like vitamin K and folate. They are low in fat and carbs.
Need more magnesium? Artichokes are a great source and can help improve sleep. The time it takes to eat one extends the pleasure and ensures you don’t binge eat them. What more could you ask for in a vegetable?
So, I love artichokes and they are incredibly healthy for you. I am also lucky enough to have some of these great perennials in my garden that keep right on giving, year after year. Why don’t I get to eat more of them?
If you don’t eat the artichoke when it’s mature, if you leave it on the plant, the artichoke head flowers. When it does, it is magical. The artichoke blossoms grow right out of the artichoke heart. They are so unexpected, the electric blue of the flower so enchanting, that I leave at least half of my crop to appreciate the beauty. It’s a trade-off, even a sacrifice, but I never regret letting some chokes go to seed.