Nutrition Corner: Parsnips are otherwise known as the ‘white carrot’

October 11th, 2017 6:04 pm

Parsnips is a root vegetable. It is called a root vegetable because we eat the root part of the plant. Some folks refer to parsnips as the “white” carrot. They do come from the carrot family and are white in color, but they have a stronger flavor than carrots.

Now is the time that we traditionally find parsnips in the stores and farm markets. If they are left in the ground after the first frost, they become even sweeter.

Why would you want to eat parsnips? Parsnips and bananas are similar in that they are both high in potassium, meaning they contain more than 200 milligrams per half-cup serving. Many of us do not eat enough foods that are rich in potassium. USDA is helping us determine both rich and not so rich sources of potassium by including the content of potassium on the new food label.

Potassium is a mineral and is regulated in our bodies by our kidneys. High potassium levels affect your heart rhythm. If your kidneys are not working well, you may need to limit potassium. Check with your health care provider.

Parsnips are also rich in fiber. One half cup has 3 grams of fiber. Most of us do not get enough fiber a day. Diets rich in fiber may decrease the risk of heart disease and colon cancers. Fiber also helps to relieve constipation.

Choose parsnips that are firm and dry without pits. Smaller ones may be more flavorful and tender. Refrigerate them unwashed in an unsealed bag for 3 weeks or more.

Making a vegetable tray for a Halloween party? Add peeled and sliced parsnips to the tray. They can be eaten raw but most of us boil, roast, or use in soups. Remember to remove the parsnip once the soup has come to a boil. If left in the soup longer, it may leave behind a strong flavor. Roast parsnips cut in strip along with carrots for a bit of variety.

Honey-Roasted Parsnips

1 ½ cups parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks

2 apples peeled, cored and cut into bite size chunks

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat over to 375F. Spray casserole dish with non-fat cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, place parsnips, sweet potatoes and apples. Heat canola oil and honey in microwave for 10 seconds. Mix in balsamic vinegar Pour onto vegetable and apples. Toss to coat. Transfer to casserole dish. Cover and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Enjoy!

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at