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In praise of the parsnip

I invited some friends over for dinner this evening and a rather international lineup of my favorite foodies. On offer were spicy chicken with a Thai-esque peanut sauce, white rice, Greek salad, and a parsnip mash.

I love parsnips. I enjoy them fried, mashed, and roasted. I’ve even used them to make gnocchi. I told my friends that they weren’t beholden to try my parsnip mash and to not think they would hurt my feelings if they did try it and didn’t like it. All tried it and all liked it. Some even had second helpings. They remarked on how they would never have thought of buying and preparing parsnips but now they would because the parsnips I served were so tasty.

What’s wonderful about the parsnip is that it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and Omega Sixes but it’s low in calories and ultra-low in fat. There’s no cholesterol, either. I’ll cut up three or four parsnips, one potato, and boil them with about a half-dozen baby carrots. I then mash it all up with a bit of butter (the equivalent of one pat), a splash of half and half, and about a half-cup of plain cultured coconut milk. This feeds four adults. SO good and so flavorful that regular mashed potatoes no longer appeal. Parsnips have a slightly sweet, gorgeous earthy flavor that potatoes lack.

Food likely will consume (pun and irony intended!) a sizable portion (oops, I did it again!) of this blog. I enjoy cooking and I’ve had to revamp how I select and prepare food upon the advent of my diagnoses. My first rheumatologist was also a certified naturopathic practitioner and he believed in using diet to help control symptoms and promote wellness. Since I moved away, I’ve picked up where he left off and have done some research on food, herbs and seasonings, and diet.

Like anyone else who deals with serious illnesses, though, I’ve run into my share of snake oil salespeople and I can become hostile whenever I’m told a certain juice, supplement, diet, or even prayer method can cure me. The worst offenders won’t take a polite “no” for an answer and invariably will tell you that you don’t really want to get better if you won’t try their juice, supplement, diet, or what-not. The really evil bunch, though, will question your faith and beliefs and tell you that you’re not healed because you don’t trust God and aren’t praying correctly. I find that to be repugnant.

Rest assured that I am neither kind of zealot regarding food or faith. I will pass along recipes, flavorful substitutions, meal ideas, and any other helpful tips I think might interest others. I doubt I would ever pass along religion tips, though! I think that is an intensely personal matter. I do yoga and relaxation techniques for exercise and wellness but they have nothing to do with my religion. Yoga most likely will be the subject of some blog entries because I’ve found aspects helpful but exercise practices need to be discussed with one’s physicians!

Speaking of physicians and getting back to the topic, if you are taking warfarin or any other blood thinner, then refrain from eating parsnips until you speak with your doctor or coumadin clinic nurse! Parsnips are a good source of Vitamin K, which thickens blood. As does spinach and kale and, WOW, does green tea! I missed that in the info I was given at the coumadin clinic and my nurse was pulling his hair out trying to get my blood thin. I assured him that I wasn’t eating the foods on the hit list and was limiting my green leafies to twice per week. Finally, he asked, “you don’t drink green tea every day, do you?” Um, yes! (More on that another time.) Green tea is astronomically high in Vitamin K, it turns out. After my cardiac ablation proved successful and my cardiologist told me I could quit the warfarin, I was thrilled to get my green tea, green leafies, and my parsnips back. 🙂

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