How to get to the (literal) heart of this thing

By Lauren Mazzo

As a kid, maybe you remember dipping artichoke leaves into butter and thinking "Hey, vegetables aren't so bad." Or maybe you were just plain terrified of this weirdo-looking fruit and refused to eat it. Either way, the idea of cooking an artichoke as an adult is just plain scary. Where do you even start?

That's why we tapped Eden Grinshpan (of Eden Eats and The Cooking Channel) and her sister, Remy Grinshpan, to teach us how to clean these suckers and, more importantly, to do it without boring us to death. Not surprisingly, Eden knows exactly how to handle artichokes (as she does with lobsters and oysters), but made us laugh while showing us the ropes.

For starters, did you know that artichokes are actually unbloomed flower buds? That being said, the best way to pick a good one from the grocery store is to get one that feels heavy for its size with tightly compressed leaves. Once you're ready to clean and cook it, there's something you should know: these things oxidize and turn brown like crazy once you start cutting. Eden's quick fix for that? Be armed with a bowl of lemon water to keep them looking fresh. Then there's a lot of strategic hacking that you'll have to watch Eden do for the full breakdown.

Why bother with artichokes? Ok, so they aren't necessarily a superfood (like pomegranate), but they're a low-cal, delish veggie, so you've got nothing to lose by adding them to your diet and cooking arsenal. Plus, they have potential health benefits we're starting to unearth; artichoke leaf extract might just help lower cholesterol according to one study, and it may aid digestion and help ease symptoms of IBS, according to another.

Plus, if you've ever had a fresh artichoke heart, you know that getting to the center of this thing will be worth it.

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