Love Potatoes? Try Sunchokes!

If you have blood sugar concerns, there are some foods you usually steer clear of as a general rule. We hear about them all the time. The top three are white rice, plain pasta and potatoes. While white rice can be substituted with brown and whole wheat pasta can stand in for plain pasta, potatoes are trickier. Cauliflower is excellent in the place of mashed potatoes. But, finding an alternative for whole potatoes can be harder. You don’t want to upset your blood sugar, but you want that wonderful texture.

One of the best options is sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes. They have no relationship to Jerusalem. They are tubers that grow a flower that looks like a sunflower. People have been claiming that they are about to be the “it” vegetable for years, but they have yet to take off. You can buy them online, at farmers’ markets, in some grocery stores and they are “easy” to grow — aka they will take over a vegetable patch. We recommend growing them in pots or contained beds if you try them and like them!

You can enjoy sunchokes roasted, pickled, boiled, fried, steamed, grilled, mashed, baked or pureed! In other words, if you can think of a way to enjoy a vegetable, it can be done with a sunchoke! Unlike potatoes, they can be eaten raw — they have a texture sort of like a water chestnut when you add them to a salad or to a raw dish.

They’re packed with inulin. That’s a form of carbs your body cannot break down. It has the unfortunate side effect of causing some people to experience gas and abdominal cramping. So, when you first enjoy sunchokes, it’s best to go easy on them and see how your body reacts. If you pickle them or boil them in lemon juice for 15 minutes before cooking them, you will neutralize the effect of the inulin.

They are slightly nuttier than potatoes but taste quite similar. The most significant difference is in their GI score. A raw potato has a GI of 60; a raw sunchoke has a GI of 32. While inulin may give you gas, it does have its upsides. It has been found to lower people’s fasting blood sugar, and it improves insulin sensitivity. So, besides being delicious and not upsetting your blood sugar, they may help your health in the long run. Those are enormous benefits that might have you rushing to plant sunchokes in your yard!

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