Sweet Winter Harvest Parsnips

IMG_4903I love parsnips.  We only see them in the winter which makes them a little more unique than their cousin the carrot.  This is a very fast and easy recipe that will go with practically any meal.  It takes about 15 minutes to make.  I call these Honey Parsnip Fries for kids because they are super sweet and they have a great texture.

Just like carrots these root veggies have a lot of sugar, similar to that of a banana actually.  Because of this they are not suitable for diabetic diets but they are great for kids!  Parsnips provide lots of dietary fiber, vitamin C, Folic Acid, B complex vitamins, minerals like iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.  As in carrots and other members of apiaceae family vegetables, parsnip too contains many poly-acetylene anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol.  Several research studies from scientists at University of Newcastle at Tyne found that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer function and offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).  Read more about nutrition in this and other foods you eat here.

 

IMG_4896Step One: Scrub the outside of the parsnips but don’t peel them.  The skin makes a nice crispy texture and provides a lot of nutritional value.  Peeling veggies is one of the biggest mistake we make when it comes to nutrition.  Cut the parsnips into french fry size sticks, but not too small.  You want some surface area to caramelize and brown in the pan.

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Step Two:  Heat up your iron skillet to medium high temp with some olive oil and a pad of butter.  Place the parsnips around the skillet, careful to not overcrowd and make sure all the parsnips are touching the pan.  If the pan is too crowded they will steam and you won’t get a nice crispy texture.  Add some thyme leaves if you have them and sprinkle with salt.  Cook for 5 minutes with lid off, cover for 5 minutes then turn over all the parsnips to crisp again.  Cover if they are still too firm.

 

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Step 3:  Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook for a few minutes with the lid off to allow the balsamic to caramelize.  Toss the parsnips in the glaze in the pan.  Serve with sprigs of thyme as garnish.

10 Minute Witch Fingers

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If you live near a Trader Joes or Fresh and Easy you can have which fingers in 10 minutes! They are whole wheat, they have no sugar, dye or other bad stuff, and they are super fun for kids to create and eat. The only downfall is they really need to be made the same day, so you’ll need to carve our 10 minutes plus the time to clean up and plate, but I took these to a friends house and the kids devoured them! My 5 year old enjoyed making them with me and then proudly served them to her friends.

What You’ll Need

Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (or pizza dough from Fresh and Easy)
One egg white
Course salt, kosher or sea salt
Almond slivers
Pizza Sauce for dipping (Trader Joe’s is good, be careful of some store bought varieties that may contain artificial sweeteners)
Olive oil for the pan
Flour to keep dough from sticking to your hands

Prep – Place dough on counter to come to room temp. Preheat oven to 425.

Step 1 – pinch off small balls of dough with your fingers. Using flour so the dough doesn’t stick roll the dough into a finger shape with your hands and place on oiled cookie sheet.

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Step 2 – add almond slivers for the fingernails

Step 3 – brush with egg white. Sprinkle generously with salt.

Step 4 – bake at 425 for 5-8 minutes until just starting to brown slightly.

Step 5 – put plastic right rings on the fingers if you wish and serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

Sweet Potato Swords

A super fast, simple and nutritious side dish kids love (and adults too).

Yams and Sweet Potatoes provide more nutrition than regular potatoes and are a great fun alternative any night of the week. I serve this with chicken brests, hot dogs, you name it.

1 – 2 Yams or Sweet Potatoes

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons ground cumin

Salt

Cut a yam or sweet potato into wedges.

Mix olive oil and several tablespoons of cumin in a large mixing bowl. Make sort of a runny paste out of it with a fork. Toss the sweet potato wedges in the mix, coating well.

Put them on a baking sheet lined wit a silpat or foil (just for ease of clean up). Put in the oven at 425 for 15-25 minutes depending on the size of the wedges. Keep an eye on them. You want them to bubble and blister a bit on the sides and get dark brown spots on the sides and very dark on the edges. The bubbling and blistering is the sign they are done. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt.

Now if you want to go all fancy you can make a healthy dipping sauce for them on the side. They go really well with a BBQ Sauce, but I don’t like any that are commercially available so that’s a post for another day with much more time. A fast fun sauce you can make for these is a cilantro lime yogurt sauce it’s green so you can have fun with naming it depending on the age of your kids. Check out my post about food names and other tricks to get kids eating food from your kitchen.

Green Monster Dip – Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dip (this makes enough for family of 4)

1/4 cup whole fat organic yogurt (my favorite is goat or sheeps milk yogurt for flavor and nutrition)

1/2 ripe avacado

juice from one small lime, or half a large lime

zest the outside of the lime

1/4 teaspoon ancho chili (optional)

1 teaspoon honey (optional)

1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro

combine all ingredients in the blender or food processor except cilantro, blend till smooth. Stir in chopped cilantro and serve.

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