Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Turnips. Who knew?

(New readers: I have been eating mostly primal for about 8 months.)

I have been stoked for weeks to come tell you how I've lost 45 lbs, but then I got stuck at 43-44 down and then I had a frustrating weekend and ate a huge plate of nachos and, well, let's just say I'm still down 40+ lbs. But anyway, I'm back on track - not particularly to reach a magic number, but because I feel better when I don't eat grains and starchy stuff.

Dinner without bread, potatoes, or beans gets pretty dull, though. I bought some turnips, parsnips, and beets and I've been trying to figure out GOOD ways to cook them. I know you can do faux mashed potatoes with most root veggies, but I rarely crave mashed potatoes. What I crave is crispy starchy salty goodness like hash browns and diced potatoes tossed in olive oil and roasted.

I spent a couple days, off and on, googling for the perfect crispy starchy salty turnip/beet/parsnip recipe, while the roots glared at me from the crisper drawer. I did not find one - the closest I found was this Mario recipe, which I discovered after I had already invented the same thing.

Anyway, a recipe. I have been working really hard on that damn floor, so I need lots of fat and some carbs. Yesterday I salted a piece of pork belly and left it in the fridge overnight. Today I rinsed and dried it, seared it, and braised it in some duck stock at 250 for, I dunno, four hours or so. After the whole house smelled good I'd periodically poke it with a fork, and when it was pretty tender I called it done.

I dismembered a turnip and chopped up some mushrooms, then tossed them in some pan juices with extra salt and pepper and roasted them in a hot oven for a while. When the turnips were almost tender, I cut the pork belly into bite sized cubes and threw it on top to crisp up further. While I was at it, I roasted the rest of the mushrooms in olive oil - they were getting a little slimy and needed to be cooked.

You know, it was really good. And really easy - dicing the veggies probably took the longest. It's hard to go wrong with roasted veggies, and it's really hard to go wrong with a braise. I have half a turnip and half a pound of pork belly for dinner tomorrow night, and like 2 lbs of mushrooms for the Inevitable Omelette.

Now, what do I do with beets and parsnips?

Another thing I've tried when I really want some damn hash browns is latkes. Peel and grate a turnip (or whatever, I think any root would work), then squeeze out all the juice by twisting it in some cheesecloth. Beat up an egg (you knew this had eggs in it) and salt and pepper, then pan fry them. They are not quite as mealy as real latkes, but they're quite acceptable.

And you know what's really weird? All this weight gone and I'm still a damn size 12. I went from squeezing in to 14s all the way down to ... comfortable in 12s. WTF, dude. Ahhh well, at least I don't have to spend a fortune on new clothes.


  1. If you don't like beets, you're screwed, but I like to bake them in the oven, with the stems chopped off each individually wrapped in foil in a baking pan for about an hour at 400 degrees. You can then leave them wrapped and put them in the fridge until you want to use them, but at least they are ready to eat. I adore their flavor, but I will admit it's an acquired taste...look at epicurious or taste spotting online for ideas...it helped me tremendously with my CSA last year. I think parsnips you can mash and enjoy like a real starch. At least, that's what my Irish upbringing tells me

  2. LOL-We're both on a cooking craze.

    My Honey went on a low-carb diet and it has wrecked havoc on my cooking skills. How do you cook a meal without potatoes or a rice side-dish?

    I'm finding out, but it wasn't easy.

    Now I'm going back to reread and write down your recipe. ;-)

  3. i like to cook low carb too and it's really rough in the land of potatoes.

    i have been so frustrated lately with the search for healthy recipes, i'm glad you brought this up so i can vent a little. i did a google search on "healthy recipes" and the first result was the food network's site, their healthy eating section. the top recipe, with full photo, was mini cheeseburgers (sliders?) and they recommend eating them with bacon, swiss cheese, and honey mustard. i was so shocked i double checked, yes, i'm in their healthy recipe section. i wrote them an email complaining. what could be LESS healthy, come on, even the buns were regular white, and the meat was ground beef. agh. that sums up my efforts lately - i find so many sites that say healthy and they are not healthy at all, full of pasta, cream sauce, etc.

    so my latest healthy cooking idea is to roast an entire chicken in some chicken broth and carrots and onions. we eat chicken and carrots that night, and the next day i boil the carcass and make chicken and veggie soup (which i turn into hot and sour soup sometimes). it's really practical and i find it healthy, even with all that chicken fat...

    p.s. you do not look like a 12, you look way smaller than me.

  4. Beets: wash, trim and reserve greens, wrap tightly in several layers of foil. Place in pan that you won't be sad about turning purple, then roast until you can poke 'em with a fork. Remove from oven, allow to cool until you're comfortable handling them (but not cold!), remove the foil and slip them out of their skins (you might want gloves or a clean purple tea towel for this).

    Dice, then serve over wilted spinach beet greens with soft goat cheese and walnuts. I find warm salads to be remarkably satisfying alongside some meat. The whole thing's a little time-intensive, but if you're roasting/braising some meat in the oven anyway, it's no big thing.

  5. I would like to lose about 10 pounds and I know what keeps me from doing this is I eat too many carbs. I'll be doing really well for a few days and then I just can't stand it anymore and eat potato chips until I am happy.

    How did you ease yourself into the diet? I need to go back and read your old posts on this.

  6. Cool, thanks for the beet ideas yall! I don't think I'll really like them - too sweet - but maybe with a good vinagrette it'll cut the sweet.

    lytha - I always turn my chicken carcasses into chicken stock! It freezes good in quart freezer bags. Foodnetwork.com is bad, but allrecipes.com is the most awful of the cooking sites. I should do a sidebar of the cooking sites I have in my Reader...

    Melissa - I got too fat to fit in my biggest jeans and realized I'd have to go to a fat girl store. So I cried a lot, then I ate everything starchy and delicious in the house, then I refilled the house with primal food. There are things I just cannot buy, because I cannot eat them in small reasonable amounts - kettle potato chips and frozen pizzas, I'm looking at you. But a bar of good dark chocolate lasts me a month - i love it but I can eat just a nibble and put it down. You gotta get the other household members on board - at least for the things you cannot resist.

  7. Bryce is on a similar diet and has been getting awesome results.

  8. You nailed it about getting other members of the household on board. It is really hard to snack on baby carrots while Jason is munching on chips. I don't even want/need to go down a size, I just want this extra bit of weight gone and I need to eat better. A lot better.

  9. I've been doing the 80/20 thing and really watching the carbs. No bread, rice, cereal etc. I really need something crunchy though and found Crunchmaster Rice Crackers at Costco. Satisfies the need for the crunch.

    I'm still down 20 pounds and all my jeans are way too big. The best thing though is that my horse stands solid when I put my foot in the stirrup and swing my leg over. I'd like to loose another 5 pounds but I'm not going to stress over it until summer.


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