PRE-biotics & Jerusalem artichokes

Written on March 19, 2012 at 10:00 am, by admin in Blog

We’ve been traveling a lot this winter and I was saving my sunchoke bed for late winter food. Yesterday I finally took the shovel out in the snow and dug into the sun flower like stalks to find a treasure trove of tubers sweetened by the frost. This is a bloggable moment if ever there was one. Sunchokes are super rich in inulin and a misunderstood and very necessary prebiotic starch. They are also super easy to grow. Too easy say many farmers whose gardens have been taken over by the quick spreading tubers. Too easy and nutrient rich is just my kind of gardening though.

Pop a couple store bought tubers in the ground or a large pot and you're in business.


Prebiotic foods differ from probitoics. Probitoics are LIVE culture foods that contain an array of flora and are touted to inoculate and support our own intestinal flora. Unpastureized foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, creme fraiche, aged cheeses, etc. fall into the probiotic category.


Prebioitcs food is non-digestible and feeds our microbiota. We need both of these foods for a healthy system. Prebiotics include long chain starches called polysaccharides; inulin and pectin are two major players here. Inulin is a starch that is used in a ton of diet and low fat products because it is very hard to digest. It also has very little effect on the blood sugar, making it a great choice for those with insulin resistance and diabetes. Because it is so hard to digest it causes gas. Yup. You can actually hear your microbes being feed. Awesome.


Inulin rich foods include the beloved sunchoke aka jeruslaem artichoke, leeks, garlic, asparagus, chicory root, dandelion greens and root, bananas, jicama, echinacea root, burdock aka gobo, wild yam, and mugwort leaves. Raw you’re gonna get more inulin, cooked it mellows out some, and lessening the gaseous effects. See the recipe for the sunchoke soup at the end of the post.

pectin gives renewed meaning to an apple a day....

Pectin is another starch you’ve probably heard more about. Found especially in the rose family fruits that are also known as stone fruits: apples, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines, etc. Pectin is more available in cooked food and is also way easier to digest. Stewed fruits is a great way to access the healing benefits of pectin. Add in some aromatics like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Add a couple prunes if that would benefit you. Eat as a stand alone breakfast, with your oatmeal or as a desert. This is a great therapeutic for people with compromised guts.

Prebiotic and Probiotic foods are especially important post antibiotics. Don’t forget you real foods as part of your regiment!

Raw these little buggers are a great crispy addition to salads.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Recipe

(a very easy recipe lifted from
You can use this same recipe for pretty much any vegetable. Cauliflower, parsnip, celery root all make delightful stand alone soups.


Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 50 minutes


* 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 2 celery stalks, chopped
* 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
* 2 pounds jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into chunks
* 1 quart chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegetarian option, and gluten-free stock if cooking gluten-free)
* Salt and black pepper to taste


1 Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat and cook the onions and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Do not brown them. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt.

2 Add the jerusalem artichokes and the chicken stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the jerusalem artichokes begin to break down, 45 minutes to an hour.

3 Using an immersion blender or upright blender, purée the soup. If using an upright blender, fill the blender bowl up only to a third of capacity at a time, if the soup is hot, and hold down the lid while blending. Alternately, you can push the soup through the finest grate on a food mill, or push it through a sturdy sieve. Add salt to taste.

Sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper to serve.

Yield: Serves 4.


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