My mother is Danish, and if the first thing that makes you think of is delicious, flaky pastries, don't be fooled. I love her dearly, but she was and is a horrible cook. Some of my strongest childhood memories involve my mother eating smelly cheese and drinking black coffee. When my friends tell heartwarming stories of the delicious, memorable dishes that their mothers made, I think of chicken.
My mother made chicken in two ways: black and burnt or raw. My sister has confessed that after she left home, she didn't eat chicken for eight years. I had a different reaction — I decided I would learn to cook! Now I can make a wide variety of dishes that are not only safe to consume, but also healthy and delicious.
One of my favorite things to eat in the spring and summer are artichokes. My mother wouldn't have known where to start with an artichoke, but they're not as intimidating as they look! In fact, if they were in season all year, I would eat them every day. And my health would be better for it! Artichokes are full of nutritional benefits, and they're especially good for you if your LDL (bad) cholesterol is high. Artichokes contain many health-promoting compounds that beneficially influence our lipid profile, including an array of polyphenols and compounds such as coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid.
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Artichokes also contain a compound called cynarin, which actually boosts production of bile in the liver and the flow of bile from the gallbladder. When your liver and gallbladder are more functional, they reabsorb less cholesterol. In scientific terms, HMGCoA-reductase is inhibited. This is the same thing that happens when you take a statin drug — but without side effects or costs.
Artichokes sometimes get a bad rap because they're served in dips with lots of fattening foods like mayonnaise. But they're delicious on their own or served with olive oil, crushed or granulated garlic, Himalayan salt, and pepper. Here's how I like to prepare them:
Put 1 quart of water (my French friends use chicken broth) in a pot. Add four sprigs of parsley and four garlic cloves. Then squeeze two lemons into the mix. If you don't have lemons, you can add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar instead. Cut off the artichoke stem at the base, and if possible, cut off the top inch of the artichoke as well. My French friends soak the artichokes in apple cider vinegar water for 30 minutes before cooking to preserve their green color, but this isn't necessary if you're in a hurry. Put your artichokes in a steamer and simmer steam them for 45 minutes to an hour.
See, it is possible to overcome your genes — whether they're predisposing you to high cholesterol or a lack of culinary skills! Give artichokes a try while they're here and at their seasonal best.
After experimenting with a number of different types of rice, they discovered that this is indeed possible. And you might be surprised to learn that their method involved adding oil — more calories — to the rice. But when oil collides with starch, it makes the starch resistant to digestive enzymes. Our bodies can't break the starch down easily, and it passes through the body.
There's one catch though. In order for this process to work, the rice and oil need to cool down. All the magic happens during the gelatinization process. Once the process is complete, it's fine to heat the rice back up. It's a little extra work, but I think cutting the calories in half is worth a little advanced planning. I gave this method a try, and I thought the reheated rice tasted just fine.
If you want to enjoy a side of rice without worrying about so many calories, all you have to do is add a teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water. Add half a cup of rice and either simmer it for 40 minutes or boil it for 20-25 minutes. Then refrigerate it for at least 12 hours. You can make up a batch in the morning for dinner or just prep some for the next night while you're making tonight's dinner. It really couldn't be easier to cut your calories and still enjoy your rice!
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