Getting to the Root of Parsnips

Posted on January 01, 2018

By Maddy Davis, R.D. 

Parsnips are root vegetables that contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. The fact that the parsnip is a member of the carrot family comes as no surprise, because aside from its creamy white color, parsnips look a lot like carrots— so much so that many often confuse the two. These root vegetables are not only packed with nutrients but have a hearty, delicious flavor as well. Parsnips are typically planted before winter as the cold earth improves their unique sweet flavor.

As a vegetable, in particular as a root vegetable, parsnips provide a significant amount of fiber. This makes them an excellent choice for people with digestive issues, since fiber has a great ability to help regulate bowel movements, reduce chances of indigestion, constipation, and other related digestive problems. A high intake of fiber has also been linked to a decreased risk of high blood cholesterol and diabetes complications, such as high blood sugar. Furthermore, consuming large amounts of fiber can give you the feeling of being full and can be ideal for promoting weight loss or maintenance.

Parsnips also provide high levels of vitamin C and potassium. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the primary benefit of regularly including fresh produce like parsnips in your diet is that the nutrients can significantly reduce your risk of a number of serious medical problems. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and is known to be profoundly affected by diet. Studies show that both vitamin C and potassium are associated with reducing risks and complications related to cardiovascular disease.

Much like carrots, parsnips are an incredibly versatile vegetable and can be used in a variety of cooking methodsThey are mostly eaten hot and can be boiled, baked, roasted, steamed, or pureed. Some people prefer to core parsnips prior to cooking. To remove the core, trim and peel the parsnip, then quarter it lengthwise. Hold a sharp paring knife parallel to the cutting board and slowly run the knife between the core and the tender outer part of the parsnip.

With the health benefits they provide and their sweet, flavorful taste, parsnips are well worth adding to your plate on a regular basis! Here are some great ways to enjoy them.
  • Make crispy parsnip “fries” by roasting them with olive oil, garlic, and cumin.
  • Slice parsnips into thin medallions and add them to a winter vegetable soup.
  • Grate parsnips along with potatoes to add a sweet flavor to your breakfast hash.
  • Blend boiled parsnips with butter, heavy cream, and your favorite spices for an alternative to mashed potatoes.

Download HHS' recipe for Roasted Parsnips by clicking here.