Ah, finally something mashed I’m not making with cauliflower. Mashed potatoes were a staple at every holiday dinner at the Skipworth (my nuclear family) household. Come to think of it, they were a weekly staple. There’s just something so comforting about a heap of white fluffy smooth food to squish around in your mouth and let slide down your throat. Sometimes my mom, Judy, would get a little exotic and whip up some parsnips and mash them with carrots. I remember how much I loved the bitterness complimented by the sweet taste of the carrots. Only recently I started grabbing my own bunch to present to my girl child hoping she would like the unusual taste. However, being the naughty nutritionist I am (by naughty, I mean ruining the family fun on more than one occasion by totally deconstructing the nutrients of a meal), I had to find out how parsnips fared in the health department:
Once a carbohydrate such as parsnips enter the body the are converted to glucose (sugar) and insulin is released to usher that fuel into the cell. Foods that are converted to glucose quickly are high on the glycemic index scale whereas those that are converted slowly like kale are considered a low glycemic food. It’s standard advice, from me as well, to avoid excessively high glycemic index foods since they raise the blood sugar quickly and put the insulin and insulin receptors through the gears. Keeping blood sugar balanced by consuming lower GI foods is the name of the game when it comes to health.
However, there’s something else called the Glycemic Load that takes into account not only the glycemic index of a food but also the amount eaten. This is the common sense caveat that a lot of people miss when choosing from the daunting list of low GI/high GI foods. Parsnips, although relatively high on the GI Index, are only considered low to moderate on the Glycemic Load scale. Sure, you can certainly spike the blood sugar if you eat a bunch of my Mashed Parsnip dish but if you have a modest portion and consume with protein, fat and fiber then you’re actually doing your body some good.
From the Organicfacts.net site: “These versatile vegetables contain high levels of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phorphorous, zinc and iron, in addition to an impressive range of vitamins including Vitamin B, C, E and K, as well as high levels of fiber and protein.” What I’m especially impressed with is a study that states how awesome parsnips are for heart health because of their high content of potassium which helps to reduce blood pressure.1
If you’re interested in how to plant, care and harvest parsnips you must check out this amazing website: https://happydiyhome.com/growing-parsnips/
If you’re up for a healthy alternative side dish then give this Mashed Parsnip with Carrots a shot and see if the family can even figure out what they’re eating. Mashed anything is pretty delicious and I doubt there’ll be too many at the table questioning just what vegetable they’re enjoying. This recipe inspired by “Ginger-Lime Parsnip Puree” from Paleo Planet by Becky Winkler but I chose to use cumin and coconut milk to jazz it up. However, ginger and lime would be pretty cool too. Enjoy!
Mashed Parsnips with Carrots
Yet another alternative to mashed potatoes. This one is loaded with some fantastic minerals and vitamins plus the slightly bitter taste of the parsnip is contrasted beautifully with the sweet carrot.
- 1 pound parsnips, washed, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1/4-1/2 cup coconut or almond milk to thin mash
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1 t lime juice
- 1/4 t cumin
- sea salt and pepper to tast
- Step 1 Steam parsnips and carrot for about 10 minutes (my preferred way is with an electric rice/vegetable steamer)
- Step 2 Cool briefly then add to a high speed blender
- Step 3 Add coconut oil, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of coconut milk
- Step 4 Blend and add more milk for desired consistency
- Zangerl, A. R., and M. R. Berenbaum. “Furanocoumarins in Wild Parsnip: Effects of Photosynthetically Active Radiation, Ultraviolet Light, and Nutrients.” Ecology68, no. 3 (1987): 516-20. doi:10.2307/1938456.