Do You Know What This Is? Sunchokes
Superfood Sunchoke Snack Chips
Swap processed potato chips for this superfood snack next time you're having a Netflix and blanket session.
Living alone in the deep Japanese inaka (countryside) certainly wasn’t easy for me. But overtime, I became to realize that I was in fact very lucky. This is because I lived next to Mr. G – an organic farmer with an incredibly generous temperament. When G-San first gave me a large bag of sunchokes – a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes (which FYI are neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke) – my subconscious immediately likened them to the hafu children of a ginger and a white potato.
Super sunchokes are good for diabetics
Sunchokes, or fouku kikuimo in Japanese, are unique, knobby-looking tubers with a slightly nutty, artichoke-like flavor. I say unique, because unlike most root vegetables, sunchokes’ main carbohydrate isn’t starch. Instead, sunchokes store inulin (not to be confused with insulin) which is a carbohydrate that is a polymer consisting of fructose units instead of glucose units. In simpler words, this specific quality of the funny-looking root vegetable makes them great for glucose control and suitable for diabetics, as well as those of us seeking a low carbohydrate diet.
Interestingly, this super quality of the humble sunchoke was first founded by Japanese researchers experimenting on lab rats. The scientists fed two groups of rats a diet consisting of 60% fructose with one group’s lab-restaurant menu also including 10% sunchokes. Over the span of four weeks, although signs of diabetes and fatty livers developed in both groups, the effects were much less severe in the bodies of the rats that were also chowing sunchokes. The sunchokatarians (not a real word) did so well that the scientists concluded at least 10% of the daily diet of individuals at risk for diabetes should ideally include sunchokes.
How should you eat them?
Like a marriage between a crisp chestnut and a sweet artichoke, they can be eaten similarly to potatoes — they don’t need to be peeled, just scrubbed real good. Sunchokes can be roasted, pureed into soup, or last but definitely not least, chipified (another made-up word). Sunchokes can be sliced thin and fried like your typical potato chips in oil or, they can be baked crisp and delicious in the following recipe free of fat, salt, or any additives at all.
Sunchokes grow all year round, but, according to Mr. G, are at their sweetest now. So what are you waiting for?
Recipe: Superfood Sunchoke Snack Chips
1. Wash sunchokes by scrubbing good then slice as thin as possible. This is best done with a slicer. Again, no need to peel, the extra fiber is good.
2. Rub sunchoke slices between dry absorbent paper towels in order to draw out as much of their moisture as possible.
3. Place sunchoke slices on an oven tray and bake on high heat in small batches until crispy.
4. For good measure, keep an eye out by turning them twice or thrice.
That’s it. Nothing else! No oil, no spice, no salt. Just as is. You’ll be surprised at how flavorful and sweet they are tout naturel. Enjoy as you would regular chips, accompanied by Netflix, smothered in dip or as a fancy garnish. Happy, healthy snacking everyone!