National Artichoke Hearts Day – March 16th

Happy National Artichoke Hearts Day!

Are you an artichoke heart lover? Do you know what an artichoke heart is? If so, you’ll find lots of like-minded people in the state of California, on the west coast of the United States. It’s true! Not only are 99.99% of all US commercially grown artichokes grown in California, but artichokes were proclaimed to be California’s Official Vegetable in 2013. In fact, the California Artichoke Advisory Board is dedicated to promoting artichokes and related research.


Although California dominates the artichoke growing market among states in the USA, the USA is still a net importer of artichokes. Worldwide production of the artichoke is led by Italy, followed by Egypt, Spain and Argentina, according to Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

An artichoke heart is the innermost portion of an artichoke – it is what’s left after all the leaves are removed and the “choke” (fuzzy top layer of the heart) is discarded.

Although we love them, artichokes can be intimidating to prepare. Don’t worry – it’s easier than it looks! Here’s how to prepare an artichoke and remove the heart:

  1. Pull the small, thorny leaves off the base of the artichoke and discard them – usually the first two or three rows of leaves can be discarded.
  2. Rinse the whole artichoke under cold, running water. Use a soft vegetable brush to remove the natural light film on the outside of the artichoke, which can cause a bitter taste. Allow the water to get in between the leaves.
  3. Pat the artichoke dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
  4. Place the rinsed artichoke on a cutting board and remove about one third of it from the top tip and about 1/4″ from the bottom stem with a kitchen knife. Peel off the outer skin of the remaining stem portion (or remove the entire stem if you plan to place them upright in a dish for baking or grilling).
  5. Use kitchen scissors to cut off the thorny tips (spines) on all of the remaining leaves. Although these will soften during baking, its best to remove them now so neither you or your guests get stabbed in the fingers by them.
  6. Remove the purple center of the artichoke by sliding a spoon down the sides of it, scraping gently as you go.
  7. Remove the fuzzy white hairs inside the center of artichoke – this is the “choke” which can be a choking hazard. Use your spoon to scrape them out, but be careful not to scrape into the flesh of the artichoke heart, which is just below the choke you are removing.
  8. Rub half of a cut lemon on the cut top/bottom of the artichoke. The acidic lemon juice will prevent the cut areas of the artichoke from turning brown when they are exposed to the air, and it will also add some flavor. Optionally, you can dip the artichoke into a bowl containing one teaspoon of lemon juice per each cup of water.
  9. Gently spread open the artichoke petals with your hands, to allow for seasoning/stuffing to fall between the leaves.
  10. You are now ready to cook the artichoke by boiling, steaming, stuffing/baking, grilling, or microwaving. See videos of these various preparation methods on the California Artichoke Advisory Board site.

Note: to harvest the heart from a whole cooked artichoke, spread open the petals of the cooked artichoke to expose the tender center leaves. Grab the center leaves with your fingers and twist clockwise and pull them out. Then, use a spoon to remove the fuzzy center and expose the tender heart. Scrape out the heart with a spoon.

Do you have any artichoke preparation tips share? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you don’t want to prepare your own artichoke hearts, they are widely available frozen and in cans packed with a brine. Be sure to drain the brine before using them.

Celebrate the lovely artichoke heart with one of these recipes:

Artichokes and Green Beans with Brown Rice, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Artichokes and Green Beans with Brown Rice, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

While on social media today, tout your love of artichokes using the hashtag #NationalArtichokeHeartsDay





National Pizza Day – February 9th

Happy National Pizza Day!

Most people agree that pizza is awesome. However, the debate about the best pizza topping is a much more contentious discussion. From cheese, to veggies, to meats (and more), Americans love their pizza toppings!  But which toppings are the most popular?

According to Fox News, here is a ranking of Americans’ most favorite pizza toppings:

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Cheese/Plain
  5. Onions
  6. Bacon
  7. Ham/Canadian bacon
  8. Pineapple
  9. Peppers/Sweet peppers

Which pizza toppings are your favorite? Mine are cheese and mushrooms, although I don’t mind spicy pepperoni! Speaking of preferences, do you prefer New York style (thin crust) or Chicago Deep Dish style pizza?  Fox News also reports New York as the winner! I never doubted it.

Celebrate your love of pizza with one of these amazing recipes:

Broccoli and Double Cheese Pizza, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Broccoli and Double Cheese Pizza, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Don’t forget to tell the world about your love of pizza today using the hashtag #NationalPizzaDay!




National Popcorn Day – January 19th

Happy National Popcorn Day!

Did you know that corn grown for popcorn is different than sweet corn (grown for eating) and field corn (grown for cornmeal)? To tell them apart, simply look at the tassels…the tassels on field corn and sweet corn stand upright, while the tassels on popcorn plants droop.

Popcorn is a very popular snack, indeed. In fact, Americans consume over 13 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually!  Maybe that’s because of its favorable nutritional value. One cup of air-popped popcorn contains just over 30 calories, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein, with almost no fat!

Celebrate the popcorn kernel with one of these recipes:

Coconut Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Coconut Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Use the hashtag #NationalPopcornDay to show your love of popcorn on social media today!



National Bean Day – January 6th

Happy National Bean Day!

As the calendar turns to January of a new year, people across the USA celebrate beans of all kinds on National Bean Day. There are over 40,000 bean varieties in the world, but only a fraction are commercially available for consumers – which one is your favorite? navy, kidney, lima, green, red, white?

Beans, although sometimes forgotten or taken for granted in culinary circles, are not only delicious, but also good for you. Shown below are nine health benefits of beans, as reported by

  1. Great source of fiber
  2. Aid in digestion
  3. Help regulate blood sugar
  4. Help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
  5. Heart healthy
  6. Help regulate body weight
  7. High in iron
  8. Good source of vitamin B
  9. Rich in antioxidants

Eat more beans! How? Keep a few cans/bags of beans in your pantry and try to integrate them into your daily meals. Include them in your salads, soups, pastas or highlight them as a side dish.

Celebrate your love of beans on National Bean Day with one (or more?) of these delicious bean recipes:

Pesto Bean Soup, Courtesy: Con Paulous
Pesto Bean Soup, Courtesy: Con Paulous

Use #NationalBeanDay to post about your love of beans on social media!



National Brownie Day – December 8th

Happy National Brownie Day!

Every year in early December, lovers of sweets across the USA look forward to celebrating their favorite treat – the brownie!

This popular baked, chocolate dessert can be cakey, chewy or fudgy, and can include tasty extras such as nuts, peanut butter, butter scotch, frosting, cream cheese, chocolate chips, or anything else you might dream up! Although brownies are usually baked with chocolate, a popular variation using brown sugar and vanilla is called a blondie.

Celebrate this tasty baked good with this recipe for Raspberry Fudge Brownies!

Raspberry Fudge Brownies, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Raspberry Fudge Brownies, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Use #NationalBrownieDay to post on social media when sharing your love of brownies.