As part of a previous post I did on teaching kids about food by eating in season this is the Spring edition.
Looking up April’s fruits and vegetables at Sustainable Table website I discovered that spinach, mushrooms, parsnips, onions, fiddleheads, and herbs like mint are in season in Massachusetts towards the end of April.
Each of these foods have a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals. Today I’m going to highlight just one of these foods; parsnips.
Parsnips are considered a root vegetable and similar to carrots. They can be found in local supermarkets and farmer’s markets. They look and smell a lot like the orange carrot recognized in cartoons like bugs bunny but are white. Parsnips have a woodsy flavor that is stronger than carrots, sweeter, and have a different texture. For this reason I suggest combining it with carrots, casseroles, or stews.
Nutritionally, parsnips are rich in fiber, and potassium. It is a good source of folate, vitamin C, and iron. These nutrients are beneficial for cleaning out the digestive system, heart function, preventing neural tube defects, the function of the immune system, and alertness.
The bottom line is that all vegetables and fruits offer a variety of nutrients that are all necessary for our bodies to function as they should.
This month I have been using parsnips in a variety of ways to see which ways work the best, are creative, and that my palette enjoys. I originally wanted to do three recipes, but changed my mind due to parsnips being my father’s least favorite vegetable (I’d be left to eat a whole bag of parsnips myself) and running out of the bag I had.
The two recipes I personally enjoyed the best are below.
Beef and Parsnip Stew
What I liked best about this recipe is that the parsnips looked like potatoes so I felt it was a nice recipe to get kids to try a new vegetable. This recipe is adapted from the recipe book Fresh Foods.
3/4 lb of beef
2 carrots peeled and sliced
1 parsnip cubed
1/3 c. of frozen string beans
1/3 c. of flour
2 3/4 c. of beef broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
a pinch of black pepper
1.) In a large pot cook the beef with a bit of water and the cover on until it’s slightly pink in the middle.
2.) Prep the vegetables by washing them under running water. Peel and slice them on a cutting board. Place aside.
3.) Wash the cutting board or use a different one for the beef. Cut the beef into 3/4-inch cubes. Place the beef in a large mixing bowl and coat with flour. Put aside.
4.) In the original pot where you cooked the beef place 1 3/4 c. of broth in the pot with the 1 c. of the meat juices that was left behind during cooking.
5.) Add carrots and parsnips. Simmer until tender. Add spices. Throw the meat coated in flour in the broth. Stir until the broth starts to thicken.
6.) Lastly, combine string beans in the stew. Heat through until hot. You may have to add a bit more broth.
Mashed Carrots and Parsnips
I got the idea for this recipe from my grandmother who mashed carrots and turnips together for my brother and I when we were young. We loved it! Instead of turnips I substituted parsnips.
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
1.) Wash, peel, and slice the carrots and parsnips.
2.) In a medium pan bring water to a boil and add the vegetables. When tender mash them with a potato masher until well blended.