Nutrition Corner: What in the world in rutabaga?

April 3rd, 2018 1:55 pm

Editor’s Note: This week’s Nutrition Corner column was written by Katharine Tebbetts, Marywood University dietetic intern

Have you ever seen a rutabaga? If so, you might have wondered how to prepare, store and eat it. This unique root vegetable has many health benefits and could be an easy, fun way to change up your plate this spring.

Rutabagas have a similar color to the purple top turnip but are larger, denser and sweeter. The smaller rutabagas tend to be sweeter than the larger ones. They also have a lumpy, irregular shape with tan skin and a dark purple band at the top.

One cup of cooked cubed rutabaga has only 65 calories and gives us more than half of vitamin C for the day. It also has almost 500 milligrams of potassium and 3 grams of fiber. What a great way to add extra nutrients to a salad, soup or stew. Add to your favorite dishes to reduce calories. For example, to cut the calories in one cup of mashed potatoes in half, substitute one cup of cooked mashed rutabaga for one cup of mashed potatoes.

Rutabagas have a waxy coat. This prevents moisture loss and protects the surface. You can remove it by placing it in a pot, add water to cover and boil.

Here are some tips when selecting rutabagas. Look for firm and smooth with a round/oval shape. Avoid rutabagas with punctures, deep cuts, cracks or decay. You can store this vegetable in a plastic bag for two weeks or more in the refrigerator or up to one week at room temperature.

When baking or roasting your rutabaga, place 1/4 inch-thick slices of peeled rutabaga in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water, cover and bake at 350 degrees until tender. You can also add sliced onions or extra flavor. Quartered rutabaga can be roasted alongside meat or poultry. Try stir-frying thinly sliced rutabagas until they begin to crisp, cooking about 6 to 7 minutes, and add in a variety of stir-fry vegetables.

Here is a recipe similar to sliced oven baked potatoes but with less calories. It has a mild flavor but a little sweeter than a regular potato. Enjoy!

Roasted rutabagas – serves 4

Peel and cut one whole rutabaga into 1/2 inch thick slices. Boil for 10 minutes then drain. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium to high heat. Add 3 peeled and halved cloves of garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add in sliced rutabaga and 1 teaspoon sugar. Cook for six minutes. Add 1/3 cup low-fat, reduced sodium chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried rosemary and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes longer, uncovered until rutabagas are tender!

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