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Turnips — Who Knew They Were So Delicious?

By Marni Sumbal

turnipsNo questioning, I love food. I don't consider myself a "foodie" but instead, food is fuel. As an athlete, food gives me energy, it postpones fatigue and it helps me recover. As a clinical registered dietitian (RD), food is nourishment, it helps prevent disease and illness, and it is used for healing. As an active, health conscious individual, food is fuel, nourishment and for pleasure.

Continuing my quest to appreciate real foods, I am gradually finding myself introducing more root veggies into my diet. I love a rich, strong taste in some of my favorites (garlic, onions, mushrooms) but still, I am not afraid to try new foods to learn to appreciate what nutrients they can add to my active body.

In looking up inspiration for the turnips that I bought at the store the other day, I came across a lot of "low carb" blogs talking about how great turnips are in place of potatoes. Well, in the Sumbal house, we welcome all food grown by farmers and in a garden. You will not see an off-limit food list on our refrigerator. Fresh bakery bread, potatoes, rice... Yes, bring on the carbs, because we love them and we use them. And we consume them responsibly and with enjoyment.

So I continued my search for an inspiration for turnips and I came across a picture of latkes (or potato pancakes). Not needing a recipe to follow, I found my inspiration from a picture and so I had excitement in my kitchen to use turnips for the first time. Let me tell you... WOW!

It's amazing how many amazing foods are out there and discovering the right creation can make all the difference as you ask yourself, "How did I go so long without appreciating this in my diet?"

Because food is fuel and nourishment, here's a little about turnips (source):

Turnips are a versatile vegetable since you can eat both the root and the green. The root is usually white in color and can have a “purpleish” color closer to the top if it was exposed to sunlight while growing. The root part of the plant is high in vitamin C and the greens are very high in Vitamin A, C, E, B6, and a great source of lutein.

The root can be eaten raw if it is very young, but most often it’s boiled before eating. You can cut them into cubes and add them to soup, mash them into “turnip taters” or add them to any vegetable medley for roasting.

The greens can be steamed just as you would do spinach or added to a spring salad mix…..they add lots of flavor and color!

Storage: If you plan on using the tops, cut off the leaves, bag them separately and refrigerate for use within a few days. Refrigerate unwashed roots in a plastic bag. They should keep for anywhere from 1-2 weeks.

Freezing: Wash, peel, slice and place in pot of water that just covers them. Bring the water just to the boiling point, then drain water off. Dump them into a sink of very cold water, then drain again, pack in freezer bags and freeze.

Turnip Latkes

  • ~3 cups shredded turnips
  • 1/2 small onion (chopped)
  • Seasoning: Garlic, onion, pepper, pinch of sea salt, red pepper flakes
  • Red and yellow sweet pepper (1 of each, large - you can use bell pepper if you want, about 1/2 cup)
  • Shredded cheese (~1/8 cup; I used Jalapeno Cabot)
  • 1 egg + 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • Olive oil (~2 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed

turnipsCombine ingredients in large bowl.

Mix together with fork until combined. Mixture shouldn't be runny - if so, add a little more flour (about 1 Tbsp at most).

Place ~2-3 tsp olive oil on pan (heated to medium heat), use 1/2 cup measuring cup to empty mixture onto pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes until brown, then flip for 4-5 minutes. You can add additional oil or a little non stick spray to prevent sticking if needed for other side.

This recipe makes 6-7 latkes. I topped with farmers cheese (you can use feta) and a little Greek yogurt (not pictured). I served with a fruity salad — mixed greens topped with yellow plum, kiwi, strawberries, sunflower seeds and golden raisins.

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, and is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC, providing one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, Fla., area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a USA Triathlon Level I Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% Play Harder, Brooks ID, Hammer Nutrition and Oakley Women brand ambassador. She enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to IronGirl.com and Ironman online in addition to USA Triathlon.

To contact Marni, email trimarnicoaching@gmail.com, visit her blog trimarniblogspot.com or her website trimarnicoach.com.

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