Thank you for tuning in and joining my wife, Dr. Karen Winkfield, to create a forum to discuss ways we can all strive towards healthier living.
On March 3rd, she invited me to join her on the monthly radio interview she does with Sister Andrena on Touch 106.1FM. The topic was the obesity epidemic in America; the discussion was summarized in Dr. Winkfield’s blog on 3/5/13 (review here). As a family that loves starches, Dr. Karen and I have to be mindful to be sure we are including enough vegetables in our meals. During the show, I agreed to provide a few tips on things that have worked for us. Although cauliflower was mentioned on the show, I wanted to start with TURNIPS.
This often-overlooked root vegetable is healthy and simple to cook. Both the root and the green leaves are edible; the root is high in vitamin C; the leaves are a good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium. While there are a variety of ways to prepare turnips, today we will just review how to select, prepare, and boil the root.
Turnips tend to get a bad rep because they can be bitter, particularly if not prepared correctly. Turnips are generally white with a little bit of purple at the top, near the green leaves.
Here’s a great recipe for those mashed potato lovers out there who are brave enough to try a fabulous alternative.
- 3 to 5 medium sized turnips
- 2tsp Granulated garlic
- ¼ stick Butter or margarine (do NOT use SmartBalance or other chemically modified butter substitutes)
- Rinse the turnips under cold water. A vegetable brush can be used to gently clean surface, but is not necessary.
- Peel using a potato peeler or a paring knife, whatever you are most comfortable with.
Turnips are a bit more difficult to peel than a potato. Best to cut the ends off (the stalk and very tip of root) to give yourself a flat surface to rest the turnip on if needed. This is a great help with larger turnips that can be difficult to hold.
3. Dice peeled turnip (cut into uniform pieces).
The smaller the pieces, the faster it will cook. I usually cut the turnip into chunks about the size of the tip of my finger (~1/2 inch, 1cm cube). Easiest way to dice a turnip is to cut it in half, in the stem to root direction. Then, place the large flat surface face down on your cutting board (yes, use a cutting board) and cut into equally sized slices, just like the pineapples slices you see in the grocery store. You can then lay each slice on the board individually (or stack 2-3) and cut into small pieces.
- Put diced turnip into a large cooking pot and add cold water until the vegetable is totally covered.
- Heat mixture on High. Remember: do not put a lid on the pot, particularly if using large turnips or if they taste bitter.
- Boil turnips until nice and tender – usually takes about 30-40 minutes, but will depend on size of pieces. Check for doneness with a fork, just like when cooking potatoes.
- Once cooked, strain turnips to remove water.
- Place back into pot or a bowl and add garlic and butter.
- Mash with a hand masher, or whip using a mixer.
- Taste and lightly season if needed (my family does not add anything else, but you could consider a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon. Try to avoid adding salt, especially if you are using salted butter).