Gardening, Health Food, Holistic, Nutrition, Nutritional Therapy, Organic, Summer, Vegetables, Wellness

Behold the Lowly Turnip

By Cynthia Hill, NTP

Behold the turnip! It’s time to elevate the lowly turnip to royal status! From my own personal experience growing turnips here in the Midwest, they are super easy to grow, thrive in less than ideal soil and weather conditions and don’t appear to suffer from pests and disease. Turnips prefer cooler temps, full sun and well-drained soil. The Old Farmers Almanac states “Turnips like a dry bed but a wet head”. I love that turnips mature in just 55 days, being one of the first vegetables to enjoy from the early garden. Turnips are a good storage vegetable as well.

Turnips are a member of the brassicaceae family and are nutritional powerhouses. You can eat both the root and the green tops. According to Dr. Mercola, low calorie turnip roots are loaded with vitamins A, C, K, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. The turnip tops or greens are even more nutritious than the roots! The greens are even richer in Vitamins K,C,A, B6, Folate and minerals including copper, manganese and calcium. Turnip greens also contain cancer fighting glucosinolates (sulfur-containing compounds), fiber and antioxidants.
Harvest turnip greens by cutting just a few of the stems at a time (tender, young greens will be less bitter). Enjoy the greens in salads or lightly steamed or sautéed.  Turnips have a pungent flavor that pairs well with milder vegetables. You can roast them by themselves,  but I prefer to roast turnip root with other vegetables including carrots, beets, potatoes, etc… and some aromatics like garlic and onion. Simply cube the veggies, place on a baking sheet and toss with a good healthy fat such as coconut oil, duck fat or avocado oil, drizzle with a little honey or maple syrup and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour or until veggies have softened and caramelized, stirring occasionally. A turnip mash or smash is easy too – boil or steam turnips until soft, drain, add butter or ghee, season, mash and enjoy.  Furthermore, add some garlic and bacon for additional flavor.  Mash turnips with potatoes and add some sour cream for a real treat! Try with sweet potatoes too.

 

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Turnip Mash

If you don’t have an inkling to grow your own, look for turnips and turnip greens at  farmers markets in the Spring and Fall or at your local supermarket. Look for firm roots and fresh unwilted bright green tops. Store in the crisper of the refrigerator and consume the greens as soon as possible. Scrub turnip roots when ready to cook.  Peel when roasting or if turnips are large (more mature) in size.

Did you know?

Henry VIII liked his turnips roasted and the tender young leaves served in a salad.  Goethe stated that ‘they are best mixed with chestnuts.’

There is 1 person in the U.S. listed on whitepages.com with the last name ‘Turnip’

And that…

California is the largest grower of turnips in the United States.

Not to be forgotten is the well known saying “just fell off a turnip truck” meaning a “simpleton”, or naïve, uninformed or gullible.  Surprisingly, I could not find a consistent  origin of this phrase and am left to ponder the connection of gullible and turnips…

So, considering the many attributes of the turnip – it is nutrient dense, you can consume every part of it, it is easy to grow,  it tastes good, and plays well with others, it appears that the lowly turnip isn’t so lowly after all and deserves to be elevated to vegetable royalty!

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Beautiful turnips from my garden!
Eat well,

Cynthia

Grilling, Health, Health Food, Healthy, Healthy Fats, Holistic, Meat, Nutrition, Nutritional Therapy, Organic, Summer, Vegetables, Wellness

To Grill or Grill Not…

Beef steak with grilled vegetables

By Cynthia Hill, NTP

As the first hint of summer makes its slow arrival in the Midwest,  I step outside late afternoon to enjoy the warming temps.  Immediately I begin to smell the most wonderful intoxicating scent.  It takes my brain a moment to identify what it is – oh yes! someone in the neighborhood has fired up their grill  – the  unmistakable smoky aroma of backyard grilling, summer and happiness! I realize momentarily how I have missed the smell & taste of grilled foods throughout the long winter months. Now this tantalizing scent beckons me, beckons me to release our own grill from its winter cover and  start planning a meal around it.   But wait… isn’t grilling food bad for you???

Grilling in general and especially grilled meat has had its share of bad press lately.  With the onset of warmer weather the warnings about the dangers of grilling and barbecuing return, and how doing so contributes to the formation of carcinogens (PAHs) and mutagens (HCA) in our food.

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are present in the smoke created from fat dripping onto hot coals.  Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced when amino acids, sugars and creatine in meat react with heat.  Does grilling generate enough of these carcinogenic compounds to pose a threat to our health and steer clear of the grill forever?  Mark Sisson, primal living expert, and author of the Primal Blueprint writes he may have “overstated the danger of the carcinogenic compounds found in charred meat”.  In his article “How Bad is Charred Meat, Really?”  he references numerous studies that show the doses of HCA in animal testing to be 1000s of times higher than what we would get from grilling. (The National Cancer Institute also suggests that both HCA and PAH dosing in animal models is thousands of times higher than what we would consume in our diet).

Author Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, “The Naughty Nutritionist” states “it’s a myth that HCAs are mostly found in fried or grilled beef, poultry and fish.”  Her post “Barbecue Meat a Safer Choice than Packaged Protein Foods” explains why we are more likely to get more carcinogenic HCAs from processed and fast foods than from the grill.

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This leaves me with a burning question from an ancestral point of view – man has been grilling for a very very long time.  If it is so bad for us, why do the carcinogenic effects only appear to have happened in the last 150 years?  We must consider our current diet of high PUFAs, processed foods, grain fed animals and environmental toxicity as contributing factors.

Would I eat grilled foods every day? probably not as with most things moderation is key. I will continue though, to eat a cancer fighting nutrient dense whole foods diet (including plenty of protective vegetables) that supports optimal health and immune function which is always our best defense!

The following suggestions from the The National Cancer Institute may reduce HCA and PAH formation while grilling:

  • Avoiding direct exposure of meat to an open flame or a hot metal surface and avoiding prolonged cooking times (especially at high temps) can redue HCA and PHA formation.
  • Continuously turning meat over on a high heat source can substantially reduce HCA formation compared with just leaving the meat on the heat source without flipping it often.
  • Removing charred portions of meat and refraining from using gravy made from meat drippings.

 

Trimming the fat, and using marinades with herbs/spices and an acid component  like vinegar or citrus offers protection also.

Avoid overcooking and processed meats as they already contain cancer causing preservative substances.

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So will I be firing up the grill this Summer?  You betcha!

 

Sincerely in Health,

Cynthia

 

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