Potatoes are a gift from the food gods! When baked, the skin gets crispy like a chip and the inside is fluffy and delicious. Fried potatoes in chip form or french fries can't be beat. The crunchy salty goodness is hard to resist and goes with everything. Having a sandwich, eat some chips or fries. Enjoying a steak, have some potatoes...any preparation is perfect.
The down side to potatoes is they are extremely high in carbohydrates and in most preparations, high in fat. Alone, potatoes are high in potassium, vitamin C, B6 and are naturally fat free only having approximately 165 calories per serving. Have you ever eaten a fat free potato? I can honestly say I have NOT. I like my potatoes fried or with butter, cheese, and cream. The fat free notion goes out the window along with the added health benefits. The way I've begun to combat the starchy, fat laden potato dishes is to remove the potato and substitute the 100 calorie parsnip.
Parsnips are pretty cool, they are fragrant, sweet and easy to prepare. The first time I saw a parsnip I flashed back to childhood and saw the vampire bunny we read about, Bunnicula.
They look like white carrots (maybe the parsnip and the carrot are cousins). They are incredibly versatile and a fantastic substitution for their starchy white counterpart.
Parsnips are high in dietary fiber and anti-oxidants. The bright white root vegetable also has anti-inflammatory properties as well as being a good source for vitamin C, folic acid, B6, thiamin, vitamins K and E. So far, we are ahead of the game! This nutrient dense vegetable works with almost anything.
My two favorite ways to enjoy Parsnips are in a puree, like mashed potatoes and roasted with other fall vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes.
Parsnip puree became popular with me because it is low carb and has the closest texture to a perfectly mashed potato.
Mashed potatoes require far more technique than parsnips, they are far less forgiving. There is a super fine line between a perfectly creamy mashed potato and a gummy one. With the white root vegetable, you have a lot more leniency. Here is a recipe I use when I'm craving mashed potatoes and don't want to over do it with the carbohydrates.
1 lb parsnips, peeled and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 c half and half
2 T butter
salt to taste
Bring parsnips, garlic, cream, milk, and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat then cover and simmer until the parsnips are very soft, 10–15 minutes. Uncover and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes; season with salt. Puree in a blender until smooth. The stick blenders are fantastic for this application as well.
Parsnip puree takes less than half the time of mashed potatoes and has a deeper nutritional bench. Anything that would normally get potatoes, now receives parsnips.
Char Roasted Root Vegetables
4 parsnips, peeled
4 carrots, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 golden beet, peeled
6 brussel sprouts, halved
3 T olive oil
salt to taste
any combination of dried herbs you have in your pantry
Pre-heat Oven to 425. Once all vegetables are peeled, cut them into approximately the same sizes, your choice. Place all vegetables in a bowl and add the oil, salt, and herbs. Toss them together and spread on 2 sheet pans. 1 sheet pan will allow the vegetables to steam rather than char and roast. Place in oven for 25 minutes. Once the vegetables are charred, turn the heat down to 400 and continue to roast until tender. Enjoy with any meal.