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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – J Is for Jerusalem Artichoke

Have you seen them?  These nobbly little bundles of delicious nutyness?  Jerusalem Artichokes are only around for a short season in the UK, but if you can get them, buy them.  They are so delicious and worth the effort needed to prepare them.

You may know Jerusalem artichokes by their alternate or US name, Sunchokes. Don’t confuse these with the artichokes that are prevalent in Italian cuisine. Jerusalem artichokes are a root vegetable and look like a cross between a potato and ginger root.

Also, don’t let the misnomer fool you. Jerusalem artichokes aren’t imported from Israel. In fact, they aren’t imported at all. This starchy vegetable is native to the UK as well as North America. Sunchokes have a delicious earthy and nutty flavor similar to jicama (a European root veggie).

So why should Jerusalem artichokes be in your a-z plant vocabulary? It’s a great way to get the carbs that you need without the fat and cholesterol. And the starch isn’t the only carb in Jerusalem artichokes. There is plenty of dietary fiber too.

Here are some more nutritional benefits of Jerusalem artichokes:

  • This root veggie fights constipation by helping the gut to hang onto moisture. Staying regular cleans toxins from the gut area and may help to prevent certain types of cancer.
  • Anti-oxidant vitamins abound in Jerusalem artichokes. Vitamins A, C, and E are all antioxidants making this a cancer fighting vegetable. Antioxidants also help reduce inflammation and can reduce the length of time that the common cold lasts.
  • Potassium is a vital mineral for helping the body not to dehydrate as well as for maintaining good heart health. Jerusalem artichokes get you 9% of the potassium that you need in a day with every 100 gram serving.
  • Iron is a mineral that is vital to the circulatory system. It helps in the production of red blood cells and guards against anemia which can cause fatigue and muscle weakness. A serving of sunchokes gets more than 2/5 of what you need in a day. No other tuber or root can match up to that.
  • Other vitamins and minerals in this vegetable include vitamin B, electrolytes, and copper.
  • They can also help you to boost the protein in your diet with 3 grams of protein per serving.
  • Prebiotics help to feed your body’s natural probiotics and keep them healthy. Sunchokes are filled with inulin, a prebiotic which may help your body’s probiotics to thrive, thus benefiting digestion. Don’t confuse inulin for insulin. Jerusalem artichokes do not reduce blood sugar. They may not raise it as much as other carbs, however, because inulin doesn’t metabolize like other carbohydrates. It’s actually an effective sweetener (saccharin) for diabetics.

So now you know how good they are for you, what do you want to do with them?

The first thing is to wash them, just ensure that you get rid of all the dirt.  There is no need to peel them – Life is too short!

Always cook them in acidulated water (just add a few drops of lemon juice) as otherwise they will discolour.

You can use them to make a really silky and delicious nutty soup – it’s the sort of thing that is so good, you could serve it to guests.

You can also just steam them, mash/purée them or roast them.

Let me know if you find them and how you cook them.

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