Artichoke Pesto

Some years ago I tasted artichoke pesto for the first time. I loved it! I looked at the list of ingredients and decided to try to recreate the dish. I attempted to make a vegan version as well, though the original recipe was made with Parmesan cheese. You can try it either way; they are both quite delicious. Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth—or leave it a little chunky, if desired. Serve with bread, crackers, or veggies. Serves 4–6.

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) jar or can of artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 clove fresh garlic
2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast or ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ lemon, juiced
¼ teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth—or leave it a little chunky, if desired. Serve with bread, crackers, or veggies.
Serves 4–6.

Health Benefits of Artichokes

  • High in Antioxidants: A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable and they ranked seventh in a study of the antioxidant levels of 1,000 different foods.
  • Cancer Prevention and Treatment: Studies done with artichoke leaf extract have found that they induce apoptosis (cell death) and reduce cell proliferation in many different forms of cancer, including prostate cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer. An Italian study found that a diet rich in the flavonoids present in artichokes reduces the risk of breast cancer.
  • Good for the Liver: Thanks to cynarin and another antioxidant, silymarin, artichokes are very beneficial to the liver. Studies have found they may even regenerate liver tissue. Artichokes have long been used in folk and alternative medicine as a treatment for liver ailments and the scientific studies are now proving them to be correct.
  • Better Digestion: Artichokes help the digestive system. They are a natural diuretic, they aid digestion, improve gallbladder function and, as mentioned above, they are of great benefit to the liver.
  • Hangover Treatment: Thanks to their positive effects on the liver, many people swear by artichokes as a hangover treatment. Instead of the hair of the dog, try the leaves of an artichoke.
  • Cholesterol Reduction: Ingredients in artichoke leaves have been shown to reduce cholesterol. They raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • High in Fiber: One large artichoke contains a quarter of the recommended daily intake of fiber. A medium artichoke has more fiber than a cup of prunes.
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