We have another staple member of the "cabbage" family this week, and turnips are one of the best seasonal veggies that are coming to you fresh right now! The growing season for turnips starts in the latter summer months, and they can be harvested through the months of October-March.  Turnips are the root of the plant Brassica rapa , the winter-veg cousin of radishes.

Turnips are a very ‘old’ vegetable; they have been cultivated predominately in the Northern Hemisphere since Roman times and seen as an important staple crop throughout Europe and Scandinavia. A popular varietal, the Rutabaga, (also known as a "swede" in Europe) is a hybrid root of cabbage and turnip plants.  The classic turnip is a smaller root than the latter, with a crisp firm bite, and a surprisingly delicate flavour when the roots are harvested earlier in the season. They store very well in a cold cellar, or wrapped up in the refridgerator – and can be prepared in numerous ways: mashed, roasted, braised, sautéed or served thinly sliced and raw.   Turnips go really well with classic winter roasts, and other root veggies – I like to mix up large chunks of turnip, potato, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic, some coconut oil and balsamic – and roast em all up to deliciousness.

Nutritionally speaking, turnip roots and greens are a great source of calcium.  A note on vegetables generally as a calcium source – they are actually a superior source when compared to dairy as the calcium and minerals in plant-based food is more bioavailable. Vegetables contain a higher content of magnesium, Vitamins A, C and chlorophyll; all of which are needed by the body to effectively absorb calcium from the blood into tissues such as muscle and bone.  I recommend most people consume a moderate amount of high-quality organic dairy products in combination with loads of veggies (greens and roots) for a balanced supply of calcium and other minerals.  This type of balanced intake is protective especially for women with bone-density concerns, and for those with sensitivities to dairy products.

Bronwyn Hill, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor & food lover. She is currently in practice in Toronto's Forest Hill Neighbourhood, at Mahaya Forest Hill Integrative Health. She specializes in using food as medicine, acupuncture & traditional chinese medicine & botanicals; and has particular experience treating digestive concerns, women's health concerns including menopause, stress management, insomnia, healthy detoxification, and chronic respiratory conditions including asthma. She can be reached at bhillnd@gmail.com . Follow her on Twitter @drbronwynnd.