Root vegetables aren’t the most exciting food in the bunch, but despite their funny name and appearance they can be surprisingly delicious and high in vitamins and key nutrients. Such is the case with parsnips, a lesser-known root vegetable that’s been inching its way into the hands and hearts of foodies and getting more notoriety for its versatility, pleasant taste, and abundant health benefits.
What are parsnips? Parsnips are typically grown in colder weather, allowing their starches to convert into sugar and develop their sweet flavor. They harvest in late fall and like potatoes and carrots, are available throughout winter and spring. Their appearance is similar to an off-white or pale-yellow carrot. And they have a bulbous top that tapers down to a skinny root.
When looking for a quality parsnip, choose one that is small and firm and not limp or shriveled. Once you get it home, store in the produce drawer of your fridge and they should keep for about two to three weeks.
Health benefits: Parsnips contain many poly-acetylene antioxidants, which have have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer properties. Parsnips are also high in vitamin C, Vitamin K, folic acid, Vitamin B-6 and thiamin. In addition, they also have high levels of iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorous.
Nutritional information: One cup of raw parsnips contains approximately 100 calories, .5g fat, 2g protein, 8g sugar, and 25g carbohydrates.
Cooking methods: Parsnips can be prepared a number of different ways, but are commonly washed, scrubbed, and peeled, and then cut into cubes for roasting or adding to soups. But they can also be cooked and pureed into a mashed potato-like consistency; stir-fried; added to breads, pies, and casseroles, etc.; or cut into strips, seasoned and roasted like french fries.
Parsnip cake and parsnip fries? Who would’ve thought? We hope this little tutorial helps you feel more well equipped to starting using this nutritious and delicious ingredient, so it can become a healthy staple in your kitchen in no time.
April 15th, 2012