Winter Vegetable Miracle: Rutabaga

Winter Vegetable Miracle: Rutabaga

rutabagaWhat Are the Benefits of Rutabagas?
Here we are, deep in the heart of winter. As we hunker down and prepare ourselves for several more weeks of arctic chill, it’s easy to bemoan the long road to summers’ farmers markets, with their bursts of plump berries, tender young greens and crisp, delicate stalks of asparagus. Sometimes it seems as though those months will never arrive and that we’ll be eating leeks, potatoes and onions forever.
Before we start feeling too sorry for ourselves, it’s important for all local and seasonal eaters to be reminded that winter produce offerings are far more extensive and generous than we might assume. They include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, parsnips, cauliflower, celery root, endives, radicchio, Swiss chard, kumquats, and winter citrus, depending on where you’re located. And they also include a creature that goes by a strange name: rutabaga.
Rutabaga: it sounds like an ingredient for a witch’s stew, doesn’t it? In truth, this golden root vegetable is very similar to its close cousin, the turnip. Like turnips, rutabagas are considered to be members of the cabbage family of vegetables and are also referred to as crucifers. They sport a waxy, yellow exterior, and they’re tender enough to be sliced, diced, and eaten raw. They are also naturally sweet, which means that steaming and roasting release a delicious, mildly caramelized flavor.
Rutabagas may be bland to the eye, but their health benefits are distinctive indeed. Rutabagas are an excellent source of Vitamin C, an important wintertime ally against commonplace ailments. Depending on serving size, a portion of rutabaga can provide from 17 to 45 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium for women. They are an excellent source of fiber (which we all know and love for its ability to keep our digestive systems moving along) and potassium, a mineral that aids in proper electrolyte balance. Finally, rutabagas are rich in isothiocyanates, a family of phyochemicals which may aid in preventing cancer and fighting inflammation. Like most great vegetables, rutabagas are as kind to your god pod as they are to your palate.
My favorite means of enjoying rutabaga is in this quick and easy, delicious and high-raw vegetable soup. It’s creamy, rich and a perfect source of warmth on a cool winter’s night. If you’re following a strict raw diet, though, have no fear — you can skip the gentle steaming step and enjoy a soup that’s 100 percent raw.
Rutabaga and Rosemary Sou
1 3/4 cups chopped rutabaga
1 1/2 cups almond milk or water (I like a half-and-half combination of the two!)
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 small clove garlic (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Gently steam the rutabaga over boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until the chunks are just tender.
Place the rutabaga in a high-speed blender with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste. Reheat gently if you like, or blend for a little extra time to keep the soup warm.
This soup is a little sweet, a little savory and a lot creamy. Drink it with any meal or even as a comforting and nutrient-dense midday snack. It’s also: high raw, vegan, gluten-free and soy-free.
Curious about other ways to prepare rutabaga? A simple roasting with some sea salt, pepper and coconut oil will release the vegetable’s natural sweetness and make a perfect addition to winter suppers. You can also shave and toss rutabaga into a seasonal salad of walnuts, citrus, fennel, dark leafy greens and pomegranate seeds. 


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