In Ayurveda, springtime is known for coinciding with water retention in the physical body. It is a quintessential example of how the human body mimics what happens in nature when melting snow and spring rains bog down the earth—feeling heavy and bloated is quite common. This is one of the reasons why it is important to eat seasonally. The intelligence of nature provides us with antidotes for imbalances that might arise. Lay the course for conquering bloat (and more!) by utilizing the incredible properties of the artichoke.

The Artichoke

Artichokes are one of the oldest foods known to humans—their origins dating as far back as 370 BC in Italy. They are part of the sunflower family, and are actually an unbloomed flower.

Artichokes are ranked number one over all other vegetables when it comes to antioxidants, as well as being low in fat, high in fiber, and loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and potassium. Today, just about 100% of US commercially available artichokes are grown in California year-round, but their peak season is spring.

Some of the many amazing things the artichoke is known for are its ability to

  • Drains excess moisture from the body
  • Protect the liver and promote the cleansing of toxic bile
  • Stimulate digestion and the flow of energy in the body
  • Nourish the plasma and fat tissues of the body
  • Improve alkalinity to assist in decreasing inflammation
  • Pacify excess heat in the blood tissue.

Recipe: Barley Stuffed Artichokes

Serves 4

This recipe utilizes barley for an additional diuretic effect. Feel free to substitute with another grain, such as quinoa, wild rice, or a lentil such as red (coral) or French lentils.

Ingredients

4 artichokes
1.5 cups cooked barley-cook the barley al denté in vegetable broth
1/2 C minced fennel (chop some of the fennel fronds and set aside for garnish)
1/2 C minced celery
1/2 C minced carrots
1/4 C melted ghee or olive oil
Olive oil for lightly coating the artichokes and for oiling the bottom of the baking dish
1/3 C lemon juice
1/4 C chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp. mineral salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley for garnish

*If you tend toward having a gassy stomach, add a teaspoon of toasted fennel seeds to the vegetable and barley mixture.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Trim the tips of the leaves and cut off the stems, making the bottom of the artichokes flat so that they can sit upright.
  3. Place the artichokes in a large pot, add enough water to cover them and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer until just about tender (not fully cooked); approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Drain, then transfer the artichokes to a lightly oiled baking dish that can be covered. Very lightly coat each one with olive oil.
  6. Use the pot that you cooked the artichokes in to sauté the fennel, celery, and carrots in ghee or olive oil until soft.
  7. Mix the cooked barley, lemon juice, chives, salt and pepper in with the vegetables and spoon the mixture onto the leaves of each artichoke to “stuff” them.
  8. Cover and bake until vegetables are tender, and barley is soft; about 30 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a large platter and garnish with chopped fennel fronds and parsley. Give thanks and enjoy.

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