I’m always so pleased with myself when I switch it up from potatoes and sweet potatoes. There’s simply an air of excitement in the kitchen when I cook up a lesser-used root vegetable. I’m sure my family doesn’t give it a moment’s thought but that’s beside the point. When it comes to meals I do the thinking for them and they usually just give the thumbs up or the thumbs down. For this evening’s meal I wanted to show off what a rutabaga could do and happily it earned the former.
Rutabagas are actually a hybrid between a turnip and cabbage. They originated from Bohemia in the 17th century but when they came to North America we started calling them rutabagas. To make it even more confusing, most of the world knows them as swedes or Swedish or Russian turnips. Whatever you call them, they are a nice alternative to potatoes and sweet potatoes. With a slightly sweet taste they make an excellent addition to soups and stews. This recipe highlights their sweet flavor enhanced by the onions and garlic. It then contrasts that sweetness with the slightly bitter taste of spinach. Adding a bit of salt and maybe some lemon juice really gets the taste buds in a frenzy–in a good way.
Rutabagas like other members of the Brassica genus (broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, etc.) are cruciferous vegetables that are high in anti-oxidant and anti-cancer constituents. They are rich in beta-carotene containing about 30% of our daily requirement of Vitamin C in just one of these slightly sweet root vegetable. Vitamin C is well-represented in its nutritional profile as well. It also has resistant starch–a type of carb that can’t be broken down. Essentially rutabagas along with boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes and turnips resist digestion and help regulate blood sugar.1
Consuming cruciferous vegetables like rutabagas is linked to a reduction in prostate cancer risk.2 There is also a compelling study showing that when men and women eat more Brassica vegetables like Brussels Sprouts, broccoli and rutabagas risk for colorectal cancer is reduced.3
That accounts for some of the reason why I get so excited about this root vegetable but there’s another reason. I love to expand my daughter’s palate at such a young age. She’s no stranger to kale and collard greens and Brussels Sprouts but now she can add Rutabagas to the list. It’s a tiny win for me.
Mashed Rutabaga with Spinach
Mashed anything is so delicious but you can up the health ante when you add onions, garlic and greens.
- 1 lb rutabagas, cut off ends, scrub clean but leave peels on and cut into 1 inch chunks.
- 1 tsp sea salt, divided
- 2 T coconut oil
- 1/4 cup diced scallion or any type of onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups spinach tightly packed then chopped
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- Step 1 In a large pot, place rutabagas and cover with water, add 1/2 t salt. Cook on medium high. Once it reaches boiling point, cover and simmer for 25 minutes
- Step 2 Drain rutabagas in a colander and set aside
- Step 3 In the same pot on medium high, saute onions for 3 minutes then add garlic and saute 2 minutes more
- Step 4 Add in spinach and salt and saute 1 more minute
- Step 5 Put rutabagas in a food processor and blend until smooth
- Step 6 In a bowl place mashed rutabagas and stir in spinach and onion mixture
- Ashwar, Bilal Ahmad, Adil Gani, Asima Shah, Idrees Ahmed Wani, and Farooq Ahmad Masoodi. “Preparation, health benefits and applications of resistant starch-a review.” Starch – Stärke68, no. 3-4 (2015): 287-301. doi:10.1002/star.201500064.
- Higdon, J., B. Delage, D. Williams, and R. Dashwood. “Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis.” Pharmacological Research55, no. 3 (2007): 224-36. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2007.01.009.
- Voorrips, L. E., R. A. Goldbohm, G. Van Poppel, F. Sturmans, R. J. J. Hermus, and P. A. Van Den Brandt. “Vegetable and Fruit Consumption and Risks of Colon and Rectal Cancer in a Prospective Cohort Study The Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer.” American Journal of Epidemiology152, no. 11 (2000): 1081-092. doi:10.1093/aje/152.11.1081.
- Resistant Starch