Raise your hand if within the last year you've cooked with parsnip. Anyone? Anyone? Parsnip is one of my favorite root vegetables, and yet, most people pass right on by this sweet and crunchy carrot like root. Parsnip belongs among the rank of The Forgotten Vegetables. Besides being crammed with goodness, they are also fun to eat raw or cook with.
Before we go any further, let's look at the nutrition profile of parsnip and see what this vegetable has to offer (or click here to skip down to recipes.) From the USDA database, parsnips are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, and manganese!
These root vegetables have a woody texture, so it's no surprise that 1 serving of raw parsnip contains 20% of the recommended daily consumption of fiber. In order to maintain a healthy body, nutrition is absorbed and digested from the food you eat. This isn't the case with fiber. Fiber plays an important role because it is the plant matter that our body does not absorb and that passes mostly “as-is” though the digestive tract. Cooking often lowers the fiber content of vegetables, so it's best to incorporate as many raw veggies into your diet as you can. Leaving the skin on fruit and vegetables also keeps the fiber content higher. From the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), fiber is important in maintaining a healthy, normal and regular bowel.
Vitamin C, that sweet nectar that society becomes obsessed with when winter rolls around, is necessary for so many reasons such as tissue repair, producing collagen, and healthy bones and teeth. Since the human body does not store vitamin C (as this vitamin is water soluble), it's important that you consume vitamin C everyday for this very reason. 1 serving of raw parsnip contains 28% of the recommended daily consumption. Next time you're hoping to ward off a cold, try eating a few fresh parsnips as well as those oranges.
Chances are you've seen folic acid on a food label at some point. Folic acid is a man-made form of Folate, a B vitamin (B9). This vitamin is particularly important for pregnant women as B9 reduces the risk of neural tube defects (defects concerning the brain, spine, or spinal cord). A deficiency in folate (either from diet or genetics) can result in anemia, so make sure you are eating enough dark leafy green vegetables annnnnd parsnip! With 17% of your needed folate (along with 3% iron), make sure you are including parsnip into your diet.
Manganese naturally occurs in our bodies; this mineral is concentrated in our kidneys, pancreas, liver, and bones, and ensures proper functioning of our nervous system, our brain, and our metabolism (among other things.) This article claims that potentially 35% of the world's population could be manganese deficient resulting in a slew of health issues; fortunately, with good eating habits, it's very unlikely to become deficient. Raw parsnips contains 28% of the recommended daily intake!
Okay, you may be thinking “So what; there are tons of vegetables out there that I already know how to cook with. Why include parsnips?” And yes, technically you would be correct in thinking this. However, I'm a big proponent of eating a varied diet to form a complete nutrition profile for your body and to keep your mouth feeling satisfied. Expanding the fruits, meats, and vegetables you cook with will provide a more satisfying eating experience and will help you overcome the boredom that comes along with repetition. So what are some favorite ways to eat parsnip?
Bon Appetit, my friends!