Parsnips, a Delicious Carrot Alternative

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parsnips


Introduction

Do you enjoy carrots? Are you looking for a winter vegetable that you can use in a variety of dishes? If so, look no further than the parsnip.

What is it?

The parsnip is closely related to the carrot. However, there are many major differences. The parsnip isn’t orange like a standard carrot, it’s white. And it has a less woody flavor. Instead it is quite sweet and many describe it as “buttery.”

It is harvested in the winter and doesn’t actually reach maturity until the roots have been exposed to freezing temperatures for a few weeks. This means they only grow in colder climates where the temperatures actually get below freezing in the early winter and late fall months. Like a carrot, the parsnip is a root vegetable with greens that grow above ground.

Health Benefits

Parsnips are considered the healthier vegetable when compared to carrots. They have more potassium and are rich in dietary fiber. And a single cup of sliced parsnips contains less than 100 calories. Parsnips also have an abundance of vitamin C, folic acid, pantothenic acid, copper, manganese and B vitamins like niacin and thiamine.

Fun Fact

Some historians report that parsnips were used as aphrodisiacs by the Romans. Additionally, the juice from broken leaves or stems can cause damage to the skin. If you cultivate parsnips in your garden it’s important to wear long sleeves and gloves. The parsnip juice contains a photosensitive chemical that causes chemical burns. Symptoms include burning, redness, and blistering.

How to Eat

Like carrots, parsnips need to be peeled. If they’re large and mature you’ll want to trim the inner core as it can be bitter. Young parsnips can be grated raw onto salads and slaws like a carrot. You can also make parsnip soup with broth, cream, and spices. Parsnips are an excellent addition to soups and stews as well. You can use them in addition to carrots or in place of. Remember, they’re sweeter than carrots and have a buttery flavor when roasted or cooked.

If you enjoy mashed potatoes then you can add parsnips to your potatoes to enjoy more vitamins and a richer taste. You can also boil and mash parsnips like potatoes and mash them alone. A little butter and seasoning and they’re ready to eat. Parsnips can be stored in the refrigerator, unwashed, for a few weeks. Wrap them in a paper towel to keep them fresh and moist.

If you like carrots and other root vegetables or you’re looking for a replacement for carrots consider the parsnip. They’re nutrient rich, sweet, and buttery. They’re also easy to prepare and make a nice addition to a number of traditional recipes.