All hail the glorious parsnip!
Full disclosure: this is the first time I have personally prepared parsnips at home. I happened across some at the Whole Foods pre-made bar last week and thought they were darn yummy, so I picked up a couple to take home and create with. When was the last time you picked up a food you'd never cooked with and decided to get crafty? (I happened to do the same thing in that same shopping trip with a rutabaga... it remains to be seen what will happen with that hilarious-looking veggie. It reminded me a little of the talking plants from the first Harry Potter. I may paint a face on it before I cook with it. We'll see.)
But back to the veggie of the day! Considering all the craziness around Superbowl foods this week, I thought it might be fun to churn out a healthy snacky option (you know, something to counter the 1.23 BILLION CHICKEN WINGS Americans will eat this weekend. That's the actual number [and works out to 615000000 chickens]. Urgh.) No chickens were harmed in the making of these fries; in fact, the parsnips seemed quite happy to be made over and kept toasty warm in the oven. It's cold outside!
Flavor-wise, parsnips are like a mild carrot. They have a slight sweetness to them: they're often paired with sweet potatoes, turnip, carrots, and other sweet roots. (Did you know... Incorporating these kinds of sweet veggies throughout the day can actually reduce cravings for sugar?)
Nutritionally, parsnips pack three times the calcium and twice the fiber of white potatoes. They're also a more complex starch, so they don't break down into sugar in the bloodstream as quickly. This means they don't spike blood sugar as intensely (read: less crashing, cravings, and insatiable hunger).
I peeled the parsnips with a potato peeler and sliced them into chunky french-fry like spears. I tossed them in a bit of apple cider vinegar and olive oil to soften them a little before baking. They took about 40 minutes in the oven to soften and brown a little on the edges. We served them alongside some tempeh and steamed kale, with just a touch of mango chutney for dipping. A sugar-free organic ketchup would also be really yummy (and a nice classic throwback, no?). Toss these on your Superbowl buffet and know you have a nutritious option to balance out everything else. Not bad, right?
Try out one of the dips in this post here. Kid-friendly, adult-friendly, holiday-friendly, Superbowl-friendly, nutritious. Cool. :o)
I'm again reminded of the Michael Pollan video on Cup of Jo, where he talks about the secret to healthy eating. [Eat whatever you want, just make it yourself.] Here, again, an example of ordinarily store-bought food made at home. It's quick, it's easy, it tastes better, and it didn't come out of a bag in the freezer section. More intact nutrients, more awareness of where the ingredients came from, less salt, less processed fat, less sugar. All in all, the health potential from these little spears is going to be greater than any fry option we can buy out in the world. Give them a go! They're pretty darn good.
I think they'll be a wintertime staple from now on.
Happy cooking and Superbowl-watching!
- 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into rectangles
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- sprinkle of sea salt, if desired
- 1. Preheat oven to 375F.
- 2. Toss parsnips in a large bowl with apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Ensure the liquid coats each piece well.
- 3. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for ~40 minutes, until fries are soft and browned on the edges.
- Serve with chutney or your favorite dip.