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January 09, 2011

Defining Healthy

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli and Steamed Artichokes.


January is the most diet-friendly month of the year. After New Year's Day there are no major (American) holidays involving food. You've more than likely just come off a month-long gluttonous binge and are ready for lighter meals. Plus, there are usually friends happy to join in on a first-of-the-year health kick!

The problem is, we all define "eating healthy" differently these days. For some a healthy diet means gluten-free. To others sugar-free is the straight and narrow path.  Not to mention those that go:  low-carb, no-carb, high-protein, vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, whole-grain, raw-foods-only, yeast-free, heavy-on-supplements, or organic locavore. It's dizzying to keep up with it all!

My personal definition of a healthy diet includes: high-protein, whole-grain carbs in smaller portions, and lots of veggies--preferably organic and locally grown. I also (when I'm behaving myself) try to keep sugar at a minimum.  I don't generally worry about fat. I figure if I'm keeping the carbs and sugar in check, I can eat a little fat when it enhances my food!

That's the case with aioli. Velvety aioli is birthed by whipping egg yolks and oil together, but the result is worth every last calorie. And depending on what you eat it with, can be quite healthy! Here I've paired a silky, savory roasted red pepper aioli with steamed artichoke leaves. You simply dip the fleshy end of the leaves in the aioli and scrape the artichoke "meat" off with your teeth, discarding the rest! This is a low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free, vegetarian snack that leaves you with a sense of indulgence!


Let's discuss eggs for a moment...

Some people are nervous to try aioli because it contains raw eggs. To put your mind at rest, please consider that nearly all cases of salmonella derive from eggs that are mass produced. Although there are "regulations" on these companies, let's face it, there is too much corruption in our food industry and government to keep them under wraps.

Eggs are naturally sealed with a self-protecting microbial layer that guards them from bacteria. When large eggs producers process their eggs they clean the eggs, therefore washing off the God-intended antibacterial coating. So what happens if the "clean" eggs are compromised in the factory? They have no way to guard themselves from new contaminates!

Buying eggs from a local source is the safest way to go. Most small farms take great pride in how they care for their chickens and eggs. Many local grocers carry eggs laid in their own community.

I like to buy eggs at the farmers market. When you buy "fresh" eggs, meaning unprocessed and never refrigerated, you can actually keep them out on the counter for several weeks because they still contain their protective layer! If you buy fresh eggs and keep them out, you never have to worry about bringing them to room temperature for baking--plus they taste better. Honestly.

In most cases, salmonella comes from the exterior of eggs (of those eggs that have been processed.) It only contaminates the egg when you crack it and the whites touch the shell. So for further protection, wash your eggs thoroughly before cracking. *But makes sure to only wash fresh egg RIGHT before using them--you don't want to mess up that protective shield!

If you buy local eggs and wash them before using, you pretty much eliminate your need to worry!


Roasted Red Pepper Aioli and Steamed Artichokes

3 egg yolks
1 garlic clove
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
1 jarred roasted red pepper, drained
1 cup oil of choice

2-3 large artichokes
lemon juice
Salt

Place the egg yolks, garlic, cayenne and slat in the food processor. Puree until smooth, then add the red pepper and puree until smooth again. 


While the mixture is pureeing slowly pour in the oil. Puree until the mixture has emulsified to your desired consistency.  Taste, then salt as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and place a steaming basket over it. Cover and bring to a boil.


Trim the artichoke stems off, and trim ¾ inch off the top of the artichoke flower. Pull off any damaged leaves around the base.  


Using kitchen shears, trim each point off the outer leaves.


 Squeeze lemon juice over the cut edges to reduce browning.


Sprinkle with salt and place in the steam basket. Cover and steam the artichokes for 30-40 minutes, until a center leaf pulls out easily.


Serve the artichokes with the aioli on the side for dipping! Or try it with fingerling potatoes.

*Most aioli recipes only contain 1-2 egg yolks. This recipe calls for 3 to compensate for the moisture in the red pepper.


I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on a healthy diet...and eggs!


Roasted Red Pepper Aioli and Steamed Artichokes on Foodista

63 comments:

  1. I adore artichokes! Beautiful photos.

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  2. My son's godmother had salmonela and stayed a week at the hospital. I don't feel comfortable with raw eggs and I avoid using them. I use only the ones that come from my father's aunt who has chickens. The artichokes look so vivid.

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  3. I haven't had steamed artichokes in so long, I think it's about time I did so. I usually like to dip mine in vinaigrette but roasted red pepper aioli sounds like a nice change of pace.

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  4. Beautiful artichokes...I need to eat more veggies, my issue my entire life! I'm completely behind you about getting local eggs. I wish I had chickens in the backyard for my own!

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  5. I bought some cage-free eggs the other day. But once I got home I thought, why would anyone need to cage their eggs? Not like their going to run away.

    I'll take your word on January being healthy ... while I have another serving of shepherd's pie, chili, hot chocolate, etc ... :^)

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  6. At this point in my life, local eggs are too expensive to buy, considering we go through about 3-5 dozen eggs a week in my large family. The idea of the steamed artichokes with the aioli is remarkable. I haven't had an artichoke in a long time.

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  7. I love aioli! My favourite way to have it is on fish, it's enough creaminess and flavour with taking over the entire dish. I agree with you, there is so much negative hype about the dangers of salmonella, e coli and such that I'm not entirely sure people are stopping to consider why this is occurring.

    A note: I was watching an old episode of Jacques Pepin and he said to crack the egg on the table top (gently!) instead of the side of a bowl because that way you don't push the bacteria into the egg. It's hard to break a habit though, but I'm trying!

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  8. Great post. This aioli looks delicious and I'm going to make it this week. Very informative on eggs. I always wondered about those kitchen photos showing those hanging wire baskets filled with unrefrigerated eggs. Now I know.

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  9. I have never made artichokes like this. You've inspired me to try it! Great photos.

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  10. Gorgeous, Sommer! I loved your explanation about eggs and agree with your "healthy" diet. xoxo

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  11. Other thoughts on eggs...

    I've recently learned it's very easy to keep your own laying hens! We don't have any (YET), but several of our friends do. They are very inexpensive to buy and feed. Plus, they just roam around your yard--if you've raised them, they're family, and won't run off!

    You simply need to have a place to lock them up at night so hungry varmint won't be able to get to them!

    Also, I was previously unaware that you don't need a rooster! Hen will lay eggs daily whether they are fertilized or not!

    ...Just something to consider!

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  12. What a beautiful post. It was such a pleasure to read! I agree with your definition of a healthy diet...this is exactly what I strive for, year round! And I loved hearing your thoughts about buying fresh eggs. So very true! Ryan and I adore artichokes, and I can't wait to try making that aioli. Thank you for sharing. I hope you are having a happy Monday. Your words on my blog are so appreciated!

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  13. Your artichokes look gorgeous. I just had to stop myself from trying to eat the screen. lol! Yum!!!

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  14. I've never made an aioli, not from fear of raw eggs but just because I didn't know how! This sounds great since I love roasted pepper in just about anything.

    I think eggs certainly have a place in a healthy, well-rounded diet. There are so many worse things that you can put into your body like trans fats and artificial colors that harping on something natural like eggs seems silly.

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  15. I love artichokes, and your aioli looks perfect. Yum! I also saw your comment on having your own laying hens. Unfortunately, that is not legal in all cities, such as mine. So for some people it is still not an option. I would love to, if it was legal, and if my husband would allow it. ;) My brother had some hens for a while, they were friendly and pettable and would be something the kids could enjoy having around and learning about as well.

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  16. hmm..I should try this one sometimes... sounds wonderful and healthy. Nice photos though ^_^
    ~Citra~

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  17. Your photos are incredible!!! I adore artichokes and bet the aioli is a fabulous complement...great post, Sommer!

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  18. We loved steamed artichokes and they are definitely on my current "diet" plan! I am certain the aioli is a delightful companion to the artichoke and I will certainly give it a try sometime soon!

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  19. January is surely not a diet month atleast for me coz I m about to post a dessert recipe :) I love the deep green color of your artichokes..gorgeous pictures.This dip & artichoke combo sounds really healthy & yum!

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  20. Beautiful pictures and informative post. Love the dip. I have never tried artichokes. Would love to try one day. I love eggs and eat them very often, almost everyday. They are very good for health. I love it soft boiled.

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  21. You know, I have never cooked fresh artichokes at home...thought it's very difficult to make them look and taste great. Now I have to give it a 2nd thought and get a couple of fresh ones to try.

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  22. Fantastic soup! I love it lovely artichoke in it!

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  23. Thank you. I cannot wait to see the look on Michelle's face when I bring home some laying hens. :-) I'm now armed with good reason.

    Absolutely wonderful pictures and a nice recipe.

    I didn't know that about eggs. I always figured if Rocky could drink some raw ones why can't I.

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  24. Perfect recipe for January..Got to try artichokes more often ;-)

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  25. I usually stuff my artichokes with a breadcrumb and garlic mixture, but dipping in aioli looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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  26. lovely dip and great info on eggs :-) and love the photos as ever your a star

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  27. My idea of a healthy diet is the same as yours - smaller portions, high protein (keeps you full longer), less sugar, and good carbs.

    I would love to try eating my artichokes by dipping them in aioli...I've never done that!
    And, your photos are beautiful!

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  28. I'd love my own backyard chickens, but I'm pretty certain my little suburb of Boston wouldn't allow it. I've been eating eggs raw much of my life, since i love to taste cookie and cake batter. I've never once had salmonella. I am not saying it's not a risk, obviously it is, but the risk is relatively low.

    I love your aioli with the artichokes, looks delicious. For me, healthy means low carb but that's only because I HAVE to for my diabetes. I let the fats reign supreme, as it's the only way I stay full enough. A diabetic runner with a fast metabolism - who'd have thunk it?

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  29. looks healthy and delicious lovely picture

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  30. I adore making & eating aioli! Your roast red pepper one sounds wonderful, and excellent with artichokes!

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  31. I remember my parents always having the eggs sitting out on the counter in the cool mud room. Make sense now, they bought their eggs from a local farmer. The lightbulb just came on!
    Beautiful pictures.

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  32. I do buy eggs from a local country sore - and they ae wonderful. But I never knew about that protective coating. Thanks for the info - very cool! And I love artichokes with ailoi. Yum!

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  33. I love, love artichokes, they are not only delicious but also so pretty. That's a great step by step post. Have a great week Sommer.

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  34. Hi there, I love all your blog posts/recipes- especially the steamed artichokes is something i really liked, will love to give it a shot!

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  35. Sommer!
    You are singing my song. The tutorial photographs are STUNNING! I cannot wait until DSL bootcamp next month. You definition of "diet" and healthy eating is very similar to mine. Buy local. Make it from scratch. Know about health and food and how to make a full protein without meat. Use more pulses (legumes and lentils) this year. And, I did know about the egg shell washing. SO glad you are sharing that. Our farmers have theirs washed to sell at a market as it is regulation here - but, if you get them from the farm, they need not even go into the fridge if they haven't been washed! I love that. I am ALL about the best eggs I can buy and knowing my farmers.
    Kudos to you for this wonderful, artistic and healthy beginning to the new year. You have opened a discussion which I see few engaged in... but for those of us that did, this is why I love blogging.
    And aioli. Oh, twist my arm.
    :)
    Valerie

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  36. I grew up on a small family farm where we raised practically all our food and meat and that included eggs from our hens - and, yes, there is a huge difference between fresh and store bought! My idea of healthy is very similar to yours - whole grains, lots of veggies, and protein - not always from a meat source. I don't have a sweet tooth, so no problem with sugar and fat is important in your diet - as long as you limit the french fries (my weakness) :)

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  37. Oh, and your photos are gorgeous! It's been a while since I made steamed artichokes and red pepper aioli - actually I have a recipe for a velvety red pepper dip that doesn't include egg yolks, but the aioli looks too good to pass up.

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  38. This post goes to my egg-loving heart. I am still cautious about eggs - even buying them locally. but I do love my aioli - and the roasted red peppers add such a vibrance to the dip. And then you paired them with artichokes - be stillmy heart!

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  39. I love your thoughts on eating healthy, we do treat ourselves(mostly blog posts) but day to day, we are veggie loving monsters, whole what and lean protein..we do bake sweets but most are sent to hubbys work, so I am happy. great info on eggs, local eggs are wonderful..i still have not found a great source here, but back home I do have a great provider..lovely dip and artichokes are a perfect way to kick in the new year

    sweetlife
    take care

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  40. I love this post! I especially love the step my step pictures. I've never made anything with artichokes so this is very helpful. Happy 2011 Sommer!

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  41. I've never cooked artichokes before. I'm not sure why, nor Aioli for that matter. You are so right about the variations in what healthy is to each of us. I've been eating healty all month. I actually am enjoying it. When I think about all the sugar I was eating I shudder. We have our own chickens - they are so social (seriously, it will amaze you.) Fresh eggs everyday!

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  42. Looks gorgeous and delicious! I have never made aioli, but now I have no excuse. Your recipe looks great.

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  43. This is just what I've been looking for. I bought a tray of baby artichokes and was wondering what to do with them. Thanks for the inspiration and congrats on Top 9 !!

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  44. A healthy diet for me is balance and less butter and more whole grains. if you cut something out completly cold turkey, it's easy to fall of the wagon. balance and gradually cutting something out or lowering such a sugar can be very difficult!

    This dip looks absolutely fabulous! My daughter and I would go through this quickly!

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  45. Great job with the artichokes! and that red pepper aioli sounds delicious!
    Congrats on the #1 post in the top 9!
    Dennis

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  46. Hey Sommer, I loved reading both about 'defining healthy' and your write up on eggs. There is no real way to define 'healthy'. I suppose one could easily pick some things that are surely unhealthy though;-) And in reference to eggs, I'm not scared to eat raw eggs from a good source like you mentioned here. Things like salmonella and mad cow just aren't common on free range, organic farms. Hence I would totally eat this artichoke with the healthy, fatty dip with no qualms:)!

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  47. Love your step-by-steps pictures. Just discovered your blog and I like it a lot.

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  48. Hi Sommer - healthy eating depends on one's body. A person with high cholesterol and heart-health challenges would not eat egg yolks due to their very high cholesterol content. Those without a cholesterol issue can enjoy the yolks and all the health benefits they contain. Similarly, that same person would benefit from eating whole wheat with its high fiber content, but the whole wheat would not be healthy for a person with gluten intolerance.
    Great post, your photos are awesome.
    LL.

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  49. Fantastic! I can see how this aioli would be excellent. It can be tricky and you have addressed that! GREG

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  50. The aioli sounds great! Great post as usual :)

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  51. Delicious! That is one divine combo.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  52. this sounds so good. i really love your step by step photos.. thanks for sharing this.

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  53. Absolutely love your dip... and the pictures are awesome...what a great way to serve artichokes :-)

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  54. I love artichokes, so I would know that I would just love this little treat! Love the great tips on the eggs too!

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  55. Yumm! I'm always looking for healthy dipping sauces for steamed artichokes. Love this!

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  56. Your presentation of the artichokes is awesome !

    I always used to hunt for vegan recipe of artichokes, today found your exotic and divine recipe. I am surly going to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    sonia@onecreativekitchen.blogspot.com

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  57. Congrats on top 9!!! Well deserved! This looks delicious. I totally agree with you on what healthy means and the egg issue. I added raw egg to my chocolate mousse a while back and tried to make the same point. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

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  58. Eggs don't scare me - in any way, shape or form! Your aioli looks insanely good - would love to try this! A healthy diet to me means eating everything in moderation - even desserts and avoiding overly processed food and things like HFCS.

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  59. Great blog post. You and I are definitely on the same page when it comes to "healthy" eating. I'm fortunate. I can buy fresh eggs right down the street. I didn't know I could keep them on the counter though. Great information and terrific aioli!

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  60. you are exactly right... we are all over the cookies and feasts... it is time to get healthy! so why exactly am i craving mexican?! haha no really though, this recipe is perfect! I cant wait to make this for me and my roommate!

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  61. i haven't had artichokes in a long time. thanks for the suggestion!

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I love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for taking the time. If you have a question, I'll get back to you ASAP!