Food has a huge capacity to transform your life. Making conscious decisions to eat whole foods that are packed with nutrients can lead to positive changes in your state of health. When it comes to food, focusing on quality over quantity is an important part of the medicinal benefits of food.

Globe artichokes are a great medicinal food, and the health advantages of artichokes are just as distinct as their flavor. Artichokes are nutrientdense and a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent or reduce damaging effects on cells from oxidative stress, a product of oxygen splitting into single atoms with unpaired electrons. These single electrons, called free radicals, search the body for other electrons so they can become a pair. This process causes damage to cells, proteins, and DNA.

In addition, cynarin, a phenolic acid compound found in artichokes, stimulates the production of bile in the liver. Cynarin has also been noted for promoting the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward. Both of these actions suggest artichokes have liver-protective benefits. Consuming artichokes may also lower cholesterol—high levels of which can pose a risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Over 37 percent of American adults take medication to treat high cholesterol. This is where medicinal food becomes so important. In a study published in Phytomedicine, 1.2 grams a day of artichoke leaf extract reduced cholesterol levels in human subjects’ bloodstreams by 4 percent in 12 weeks. Incorporating artichokes into your weekly meal planning can be one way to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Artichokes can seem very daunting to conquer in the kitchen even to a seasoned home cook. Here is an easy and delicious recipe that uses jarred artichoke hearts, so you don’t have to worry about tackling the spiky plant. As a bonus, the garlic in this recipe provides additional heart support through its ability to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Spinach, Artichoke, and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Boats

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 6-ounce jar of unmarinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 3 cups of baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of organic goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated organic
  • mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place facedown. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the outsides of the squash are soft when you poke them with a fork.

While the squash are cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet over medium to high heat. Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. In the same pan, add olive oil with the diced onion. Cook for five minutes, or until they soften and become translucent. Add the garlic and artichokes and cook for another 1 minute. Then add the spinach and goat cheese, stirring for about 1 minute or until spinach softens. Return the chicken to the skillet.

Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool. Scrape the inside of the squash with a fork. Divide the spinach mixture between spaghetti squash halves, then top with mozzarella cheese.

Put the spaghetti boats back in the oven and set to broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is a little golden. Serve and enjoy!

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: Approximately 1 hour