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Volume 12 Issue 3
Sept/October 2006

Turnips or Rutabagas? Delicious and Nutritious Superfood

Integrative Pain Medicine: A Rapidly Expanding Field of Health Care

The Diderot Effect: Staying Simple in the City

Calling All Angels: A Speaker Series Presented by Archangels Landing

Bruno Groening Circle of Friends: A Spiritual Way to Healing


The current issue Turnips or Rutabagas?
Delicious and Nutritious Superfood
by Paulette Millis

In Canada we often call this yellow winter vegetable a "turnip" but the correct name is "rutabaga". Rutabagas are members of the cruciferous vegetable family and have the botanical name Brassica napus. Turnips are members of the mustard family and they differ in appearance and taste. Generally speaking, rutabagas are usually yellow while turnips are most often white. The rutabaga, or Swedish Turnip, has a swollen "neck" that has a number of ridges from the leaf base scars, and leaves that look like cabbage leaves until the roots begin to swell. Rutabagas are sweeter and denser than turnips. In fact they may be substituted for carrots in some recipes. Turnips have little or no neck and hairy green leaves. They are round, flat, or top-shaped and the flesh is white or yellow. The Purple Top White Globe is the most popular variety. It has a globe-shaped root with an irregular purple cap, and its flesh is white, sweet, crisp, and tender.

Rutabagas are larger than turnips, they grow best in a cool climate, and they are a hardy long-lasting, easy-to-store crop. The rutabaga has a longer ripening period than the turnip. One source said that most of the rutabagas eaten in the US are imported from Canada.

Many people survived after World War II on the rutabaga, which they used as a vegetable, as fruit for preserves, and even as material for a coffee substitute. They were also used as animal fodder according to Nika Hazelton in The Unabridged Vegetable Cookbook.

Dr. Bernard Jensen says turnips are high in sulfur and are sometimes gas forming. Eaten raw they have a high vitamin C content and the raw juice is especially good for mucous and catarrhal conditions. Raw turnips leave an alkaline ash and have a low calorie and low carbohydrate content.

Rutabagas are loaded with phytochemicals such as, carotenoids, terpenes, flavonoids, coumarins, indoles, phenolic acids, and isothiocyanates. This means they are anti-oxidants, they prevent degenerative disease, protect vision, neutralize free radicals, and stimulate anti-cancer enzymes, to name a few benefits.

Rutabagas are beta carotene-rich and are higher in vitamin A than turnips. Rutabagas, cooked, have about thirty-five calories per 3.5 ounce serving.

Rutabaga Nutrition: (per 3.5 ozs)
8.7 g
8.1 g
1.8 g
2.5 g
48 m g
47 m g
23 mg
23 mg
326 mg
337 mg
20 mg
20 mg
Vitamin A
561 IU
580 IU
Vitamin C
18.8 mg
25 mg

Chart from www.vegparadise.com


The rutabaga, and the turnip, are still uncommonly used vegetables. They are really great tasting food, with delicate sweetness and flavour. Their great nutrition, easy preparation, and versatility make these vegetables superfood just waiting to become regular additions to your menu plans.

When harvesting rutabagas, leave in the ground until after fall frosts to sweeten them. Trim the tops to one inch for storage but don't wash them. Lay roots in bins or pack in damp sand.

Buy rutabagas that are firm, solid, and heavy for their size. Light roots tend to be tough, woody, pitted, or hollow and strong tasting. Smooth, well-shaped roots without cracks, blemishes, or punctures are best. Store in a cool, moist area for winter storage, or in a plastic bag in the fridge for about one month.

Rutabagas may or not be peeled, according to your preference, but do be sure to peel them if they have been waxed. Cut leftover parts of a large root keep well in plastic in the fridge.

Rutabagas may be frozen by blanching two inch cubes in boiling water for two minutes, immersing them in cold water, draining, and then freezing them. They may also be completely cooked, then mashed and frozen.
Although turnips are not as common, they can be used in place of rutabagas in most recipes.

  1. Grated raw rutabaga is excellent in a salad. Try mixing it with grated apple, or any combination of grated winter veggies such as parsnip, carrot, or cabbage. I use shredded rutabagas in my Beet Salad recipe (Eat Away Illness, p. 90).
  2. Steamed rutabaga (I still call this turnip!) mashed with various condiments,
    for example:
    - just plain butter and celtic sea salt
    - butter and a bit of powdered ginger
    - dash of maple syrup or apple juice (the apple juice idea came from an accident when one of my young grandsons spilled the juice into the mashed turnips!)
    - cream and celtic sea salt
    - cream or milk, parsley, dill, and celtic sea salt
    - olive oil, celtic sea salt, and nutmeg
  3. Rutabagas are great finger food. Use julienned sticks in the veggie tray.
  4. Rutabagas are great diced or grated in soups, diced or cubed in stews, or in large chunks arranged around a roast of beef, bison, or chicken and baked.
  5. Try cooking them with potatoes and mashing them together.
  6. Add thin turnip slices to a stir-fry.


Quick and Easy
Turnip, peeled and cut in very thin julienne pieces, matchstick size
Butter, olive oil, or coconut butter
Minced fresh ginger to taste

Heat heavy fry pan on medium heat. Add a dab of butter or oil, heat briefly and add ginger. Stir turnips into butter and ginger mixture and sauté until tender, several minutes, stirring often. A great way to serve turnips!
-From Eat Away Illness


4 cups mashed cooked rutabagas
2 cups soft whole grain bread crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
4 eggs, slightly beaten (2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites)
celtic sea salt or unsalted herb seasoning

Mix all ingredients together very well. Spoon into a greased casserole. Bake at 375°F for one hour. May sprinkle grated cheese on top. Delicious!
-Adapted from Naturally Homemade


Serves 4-6
3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 tbsp curry powder or to taste
1/2 to 1 cup hot chicken broth or water
2 pounds rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
celtic sea salt
dash of cayenne, if desired
1/2 cup yogurt

Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan. Cook the onion in it until soft. Stir in the curry powder. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in one half cup of the chicken broth. Add the rutabagas. Cook covered over very low heat for about 10-15 minutes or until the rutabagas are tender. Check the moisture; if necessary to prevent scorching, add more chicken broth, 2 tbsp. at a time. The cooked rutabagas should be dry. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt. Serve immediately.
-Adapted from The Unabridged Vegetable Cookbook


Serves 4-6
4 cups cooked mashed rutabagas (about 8 cups cubed raw)
1/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk, cream, or non-dairy milk
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1-2 tbsp butter or ghee, for dairy free
celtic sea salt and cayenne, if desired

Soak the crumbs in the cream or milk for a few minutes. Then beat in the eggs with a fork. Add the rutabaga, nutmeg, salt (if using), and molasses. Mix well and pour into an oiled two-quart baking dish. Dot with butter or ghee, then bake uncovered for an hour in a 350°F oven. The pudding will set and should be lightly browned. Serve as a side dish instead of potatoes, or as a light supper or lunch.
-Adapted from several sources

References: Foods That Heal, Bernard Jensen, MD; The Unabridged Vegetable Cookbook, Nika Hazelton; Eat Away Illness, Paulette Millis, RNCP; The Kitchener Gardener's Companion, Pat Katz; The Juicing Bible, Pat Crocker and Susan Eagles, Naturally Homemade, Judy Zemlak; Powerfoods, Stephanie Beling, MD; www.vegparadise.com.

The above information regarding nutritious food is not intended to replace any instruction from medical or health professionals.

Paulette Millis lives and works in Saskatoon as a counsellor and nutritional consultant. Her book, Eat Away Illness, and cookbook, Nutrition, Cooking and Healing, are available in health food stores or by calling Paulette at (306) 244-8890, emailing: eatingforhealth@sasktel.net, or by visiting www.healingwithnutrition.ca.


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