Wanstead dinners I

Wansteadium’s food blogger, Suki Orange, writes:

Food food food. It’s everywhere. You’d think the TV and media executives of this country had taken leave of their senses and were binge eating at the moment. Personally I find those Baker Boy chaps to be the straw which breaks the camel’s back – it’s just all so much style over substance. Cooking is not meant to be a pick-up tactic is it? I mean it’s hardly arugula science.

So I am absolutely delighted to introduce to you a new substance-rich feature to our little website. Wanstead nutritionist Karen Poole has given up one career in the media to dedicate herself full-time to nutritionising. And as part of her mission, she’s going to be contributing a fortnightly recipe to Wansteadium, using seasonal produce available in Wanstead. (Though personally I do find South Woodford’s International Supermarket very alluring.) So at this point I shall hand over to Karen, my new best friend.

Keeping winter blues at bay

Nothing warms the soul on a cold winter day quite like a bowl of home-made soup; easy to prepare and economical on the pocket in lean January times.

Jerusalem Artichokes will never win any vegetable beauty contests, looking like a long, knobbly potato. But don’t let this put you off; they are a real hidden gem, in season between November and February.

The smoky taste is similar to a globe artichoke, hence the name – but they are unrelated and actually a member of the sunflower family. ‘Jerusalem’ is actually derived from ‘girasole’, the French word for sunflower. To enjoy them at their best you should really cook them as soon as possible but they will keep in the bottom of the fridge for a week or so.

Jerusalem Artichokes are available in season at Harvey’s Greengrocers in Wanstead High Street.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem Artichoke soup.
Serves 4

400g Jerusalem artichoke
350g carrots
One stick of celery
One small onion
A little oil
1 litre of stock
Black pepper & salt
Cream or yoghurt


∙ Peel and chop the artichokes and then immerse them in a bowl of water straight away to prevent them discolouring.
∙ Peel and dice the carrots, onions and celery.
∙ Gently sweat all the vegetables in a little oil for about 10 minutes.
∙ Add the stock (either chicken or vegetable is best) and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Usually about 20 minutes
∙ Adjust the seasoning
∙ Blend, mash or pass the soup through a sieve to achieve a smooth texture.
∙ Season to taste. Easy on the salt
∙ Stir in a spoon of cream or yoghurt and garnish with chopped parsley.

Healthy aspect

The Jersualem artichoke is a little powerhouse of supportive nutrients. It offers:
∙ Magnesium: an important mineral useful for energy production and natural relaxant that can help with pain relief and enhance positive mood and feeling.
∙ Vitamin C: a prolific antioxidant and antihistamine that can help the immune system, support connective tissue and healthy teeth.
∙ Potassium: this mineral can help to regulate your blood pressure, aid heart and nerve function and can help to maintain water balance.
∙ Iron: can be helpful to fight fatigue and aid restful sleep.
∙ Phosphorus: can promote bone growth and health and can aid energy production.
∙ Inulin: a fermentable fibre that can aid good bacteria growth in the gut and help digestion.

If the soup doesn’t hit the spot, you can cook this versatile vegetable like a potato – either baked, mashed or roasted. It works well roasted in a salad of beetroot, spinach or rocket , chicory and spring onions topped with a little goat’s or blue cheese. For a dressing use olive oil and balsamic vinegar glaze.
Experiment and try out other combinations and I think you will be surprised.

Nutritionist Karen Poole BA Dip Nutrition CNM MBANT can be contacted at k.e.poole@hotmail.com

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