5 Ways to Enjoy the Surprising Pleasure of Parsnips

Sweet and tasty parsnips are more than the carrot’s country cousin.
By Amy Ahlberg

Try these easy parsnip recipes and get a great dose of fiber, vitamin K, and folate.

Parsnips make a hearty addition to this seasonal minestrone.

If you normally pass up parsnips in the produce aisle, grabbing carrots, their orange cousins, instead, it’s time to give this underrated root a chance. For starters, a cup of raw, sliced parsnips contains 6.5 grams of fiber, nearly double the amount found in carrots. The white veggie is also a good source of potassium and an excellent source of vitamin C and folate.

In addition, one cup of parsnips supplies nearly 40 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting. And a study done in the Netherlands has shown that this vitamin, which is produced by bacteria in the intestines but is also available in foods, may also improve bone health. The researchers found that when 70 postmenopausal women consumed 1 milligram of vitamin K daily for three months, they experienced significant decreases in calcium lost through the urine. The vitamin may also help control blood sugar; research has shown that men (but not women) who took 500 micrograms of vitamin K a day for around three years were less likely to develop insulin resistance. More research is needed to determine if vitamin K can fend off diabetes.

The folate found in parsnips not only prevents life-threatening neural-tube defects during pregnancy, it’s also essential for normal nerve functioning, helps support cell production, and helps prevent anemia and osteoporosis-related bone fractures. It has been shown to lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and may help protect against cervical and breast cancers.
When shopping for this gently sweet, nutty-tasting vegetable, choose smaller, firm roots, as very large specimens may be woody. Avoid any that are soft, shriveled, or spotted. Parsnips can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. They not only serve as a great alternative to carrots, standing in for them in salads, stir-fries, and root-veggie medleys, but also make a great substitute for regular or sweet potatoes—try baking, sautéing, or mashing them.

Now that you’re well versed in the wonders of this seasonal veggie, pick up a bunch soon and try out some of the easy parsnip recipes from Rodale’s Recipe Finder.

#1: Potato-Parsnip Skillet Cakes. These tasty cakes featuring parsnips, potatoes, corn, and red peppers would make a great brunch dish. For another simple parsnip cake, combine 1 pound peeled and grated parsnips, ¾ cup whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3 eggs, and ¼ cup fat-free milk. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and spoon onto a skillet that’s lightly coated with vegetable oil. Brown on both sides.

#2: Tuna and Root Vegetable Salad with Vinaigrette. This delicious seared tuna, atop a bed of root veggies tossed in an herbed crème-fraîche vinaigrette, makes any lunch extra special and extra healthy.

#3: Autumn Harvest Minestrone. Parsnips, like all root veggies, add heartiness and nutrition to soups. Barley or wheat berries add even more fiber to parsnip-based soups like Many-Vegetable Soup with Barley, Italian Country Soup with Pesto, and Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms.

#4: Mashed Parsnips with Sour Cream. For some new winter side dishes, try mashing parsnips with sour cream and allspice or pureeing them with carrots. Parsnips also roast up beautifully. Try this simple recipe for Roasted Carrots and Parsnips or make these Herby Roasted Vegetables, which also make a great topping for pasta.

#5: New-Fashioned Beef Stew. Parsnips round out the veggies in this delicious, wintry beef stew. For a meat-free stew option, make Hearty Black Bean Stew with Winter Vegetables using vegetable stock.

Don’t skip the carrots, get both! Steam both until just tender, and serve with a bit of melted butter and finely chopped hazelnuts. To die for!!


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