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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

An All-Time Favorite: Artichokes

Feb 28, 2023 09:31AM ● By Sara Gurgen

Donna Massaro, chef and owner of the Freight House Cafe, in Mahopac, shares some interesting information about this versatile vegetable, including a simple recipe.

What is it about artichokes that you love so much?

They are not only fun to eat, they take me back to my childhood—sitting around grandma’s dining room table with the loud, crazy Italian family during the holidays.

Do they offer health benefits?

The leaves are packed with nutrients. Having more antioxidants than any other vegetable, the artichoke ranked seventh in a study of antioxidant levels out of 1,000 different foods. One large artichoke contains one quarter of the daily recommended fiber intake. A medium one has more fiber than a cup of prunes! It is beneficial to the liver, aids in digestion, improves gallbladder function and reduces cholesterol. It is actually also a great hangover treatment.

Where are they grown?

Artichokes are native to Northern Africa and still grow wild. As part of the sunflower family, this funny-looking vegetable blooms into a beautiful violet flower if not picked. One plant can produce more than 20 artichokes per year. Their peak seasons are spring and fall, but they are available 12 months out of the year. California provides almost 100 percent of the U.S. crops and is nicknamed “the artichoke center of the world”.

What advice do you have for choosing an artichoke?

In the winter months, it is good to see white blisters on the outer leaves. This means it was exposed to cold temperatures. They should be firm; the leaf should squeak when rubbed and snap when you fold it.

How should they be stored?

Sprinkle with water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. They will keep for about a week.

The Freight House Cafe serves local, organic food, and Massaro works hard to exclusively buy ingredients in the USA. She has created a menu inspired by her favorite places all across the country.

Location: 609 Rte. 6, in Mahopac, NY. For more information, call 845.628.1872, email [email protected] or visit


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