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Lick the produce section: Don’t get parsnippity!

It’s time for another installment of “Lick the Produce Section,” a series cataloguing my continuing adventures to boldy try new vegetables that millions of people have eaten before. People used to live off the land, don’t you know?

Parsnips

A parsnip looks like an albino carrot. Could this be the work of Bunnicula, the vampire rabbit who sucks vegetables of their juice? It also looks like on organic baseball bat, so if ever an intruder were to break into my apartment while I was raiding the fridge, I could probably grab a parsnip and beat him death with it. Now that’s a handy root vegetable!

After taking this home from the grocery store I looked up its glycemic index rating and freaked out a little when I discovered it was 97. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food is digested and how fast it raises your blood sugar levels. A spoonful of sugar rates at 100. So at first glance it looked like I might as well be chewing on raw sugar cane as snacking on a parsnip. However, while the GI measures your response per gram of carbohydrate in the food, it doesn’t measure how many carbs are actually in that food. That’s what the glycemic load is for. The GL multiplies the glycemic index by the percent of carbs in the food, and luckily the GL for a parsnip is only 10. For comparison, a baked potato scores around a 17. *sigh of relief* Also, why does eating have to involve so much math? Because I love to eat pi, that’s why! (har, dee, har, har. ? jokes never get stale.)

I sliced up the parsnip and roasted it in the oven. I might have sprinkled some spices on there, but I can’t remember because this was weeks ago. I do remember that the parsnip was pretty tasty, kind of sweet but crunchy. I’d definitely eat one again, though I might keep a spare in the fresher drawer to beat off vampire bunnies.

Radishes

When I steamed the radishes in the microwave and they made the water a pretty pink color. They also did not go bad even though I stored them in my fridge for a week and a half. And that’s about all the nice things I have to say about radishes.

I’m not too crazy about that name to begin with. A “radish” sounds like some anti-biotic resistant mutant strain of a rash. I can just see a doctor telling some poor patient, “I’m sorry, Mr. Jones, that’s not just a rash you have on your arm, it’s a RADISH!” *cue dramatic strings*

I tried seasoning the radishes with some salt, but they still tasted somewhat bitter. The only thing that might make them more palatable is to drench them in other seasonings and butter. I can’t see myself ever having an incessant radish craving. They reminded me a bit of the turnips actually. If I had just returned from 40 days starving in the desert and stumbled upon a radish garden, I would eat them happily, but otherwise I’d pick another vegetable first. They might work better just as a garnish on a salad instead of a main meal in themselves.

ETA: Okay, evidently steaming radishes is really weird. I promise to eat them raw from now on. Y’all can stop telling me I’m a weirdo now.

Fish

Okay, I realize fish aren’t located in the produce section. I’ve never seen a fish garden with little fishy heads poking out of the dirt. That would make an awesome surrealistic painting though, or a cool gag to play on someone with a vegetable garden after buying a dozen plastic fish at the dollar store. Regardless, I wanted to mention that I’ve been trying some new fish. Why? Because there was a sale, of course!

Recently I’ve eaten flounder and tilapia and ocean perch, as well as an old favorite of mine, orange roughy (which in a blatant display of false advertising is NOT orange). Is it just me, or do most fish taste the same? They’re like the tofu of the ocean, they just take on the flavor of whatever you serve them with, be it lemon juice or a feta and spinach spread. Granted, salmon has a distinct taste, and I suspect there are other types of fish that have their own distinct flavor, like catfish or bass perhaps. However, if you’d served me a bite of each of these three fish I really wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. There may be many fish in the sea, but I can’t tell them apart. However, they have those good omega-3 oils and they don’t taste bad, so as long as they aren’t full of mercury I’ll be happy to keep munching on their tails.

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56 Comments

barbara • June 7, 2007 at 10:34 am

You steamed the radishes?? I don’t think you’re supposed to cook radishes at all. They’re like… well, celery, I guess… something I’ve always thought were added to a salad and eaten raw. Try them that way, as sort of a salad condiment. You might like ‘em better.

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PastaQueen • June 7, 2007 at 10:38 am

Yeah, I steamed them. It was the second recipe on my radish search at allrecipes.com.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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Debbi • June 7, 2007 at 11:06 am

I just trim them and eat them plain. I love radishes! It might be an acquired taste, though, if you haven’t tried them before.

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Dawn • June 7, 2007 at 11:08 am

Not sure how parsnips compare to potatoes on the glycemic index, but whipped parsnips are a nice change from mashed potatoes.

P.S. I loved Bunnicula.

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Têtue • June 7, 2007 at 11:09 am

I hate fish. I refuse to eat fish. Because it all tastes the same–like fish. Blech!

As for the vegetables, I’m really only willing to eat maybe 8-10 varieties, and outside of that, nothin’ doin’. The weird vegetables aren’t popular because they’re not very good! ;) But good on ya for being an equal opportunity vegetable eater. I’m an equal opportunity snack cake eater, but I don’t think that counts.

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mrs darling • June 7, 2007 at 11:12 am

I too have never heard of cooking radishes! I always just eat them on salad raw. I guess you learn something everyday.

When you say you roast your veggies are you roasting them in the oven, on a grill or on your foreman grill? And when you say you eat them for snacks are you saying you roast them and snack on them all day? I mean do you eat them cold? Or are you roasting them everytime you want a snack?

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Nan • June 7, 2007 at 11:17 am

Hmmm… Cooked radishes? I always thought they were for eating raw or for cutting up raw in salads–for the crunch, the color, and the slightly peppery/astringent taste.

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Olivia • June 7, 2007 at 11:28 am

Tilapia is my favorite fish to eat every since I was a kid and my family would go to the local fish farm. The farm raised the fish and you could buy them fresh. My dad would de-scale and fillet them at home. Now, I have to live with frozen tilapia, but it’s still good.

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Kalyn • June 7, 2007 at 11:30 am

Will you allow me to be the resident cooking expert on your blog? (Not that I’m really an expert, but I do read a lot!) Radishes are often cooked, as well as eaten raw. In Chinese cooking, the white radish known as Daikon is used a lot in stir-fry dishes.

I’m on a bit of a radish binge lately but I have eaten them most simply raw, sliced in half, dipped into homemade ranch dressing. One of my favorite recipes though is a salad I created with raw broccoli, radishes, and blue cheese dressing. Just fantastic. If you like blue cheese I recommend it highly.

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Ann • June 7, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Parsnips are really good diced and added to soups – they’ll help thicken it without really adding calories. If you’re pureeing a soup, they’ll also help add body to the soup. I’m not crazy about them solo, but rely on them for stews and such. They’re also a nice addition if you’re roasting up a whole mess of vegetables.

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Wendy • June 7, 2007 at 12:10 pm

I’ve never eaten parsnips on their own, but they add a lot of flavor to soups. Whenever I make vegetable stock I always throw one in!

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JEM • June 7, 2007 at 12:16 pm

I can honestly say I have never had a parsnip but I will try it now. I have heard they are like a cross between a carrot and a potato.

I have never liked the radish unless it was chopped up so small in a salad I couldn’t taste it.

You know what I have discovered recently that I like…BEETS…so you may want to try those next if you haven’t already. Yum.

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Joy • June 7, 2007 at 12:29 pm

I love parsnips, and they do add a special ‘something’ to soups. But be aware that they are really delicate and they don’t keep all that long in the fridge (unlike carrots that can go weeks) so don’t buy ‘em in bulk!

Have you tried roasting/baking garlic? You can just wrap a whole head in tinfoil and throw in on a grill or in the oven and ohmigod it is so creamy and gets sort of sweet, delish! (nice to spread on crusty toast!)

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PastaQueen • June 7, 2007 at 12:38 pm

mrs darling – I’ve recently starting roasting broccoli and cauliflower in the oven, which is also the way I did the parsnip. I grilled some eggplant on the George Foreman grill and that turned out pretty well, though I forgot to spray cooking oil on there first and it got sticky.

I usually eat them as snacks in the evening, but that’s mostly because I cook them at night and then eat them as an after dinner snack. I *could* bring them to work to snack on if I thought that far ahead, but I usually just grab a fruit instead. I do prefer roasted veggies hot, but honestly I’m always going to prefer fruit to veggies. It’s just how my tastebuds are wired.

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dg • June 7, 2007 at 12:47 pm

you’re not weird! you’re a bold pioneer! i’ve seen people do a lot weirder things with vegetables.

roast veggies as an evening snack eh? that is a good idea…

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dg • June 7, 2007 at 12:58 pm

OH meant to say, have you tried plain old carrots roasted? they are ace, especially with a wee pinch of cumin :)

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ammo • June 7, 2007 at 1:18 pm

re: fish heads in the garden

remember the Fish Heads video on MTV back in the day? There was a garden there, time stamp 2:39 on the youtube video:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=J-TfOcu9S2Q

Yes, I latch onto random things.

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PastaQueen • June 7, 2007 at 1:21 pm

dg – Mmmm, roasted carrots do sound good. I’ll have to try those.

ammo – OMG, I had heard that song before but never seen the video! I find it bizarre that someone else came up with the idea of a fish head garden before I did.

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Chris • June 7, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Here’s one for you…radishes sliced VERY thin, layered atop either 1) rye bread with a thin smear of FF mayo nd sprinkled with salt, or 2) same as 1) except no mayo! Odd maybe, but oddly good! DO you eat yams or sweet potatos? Thinly slice them, sprinkle both sides with cajun spice (or Emeril’s essence) and lay them in a single layer on a Pam sprayed cookie sheet, spray the tops with a light spray of Pam. Bake ‘em till they’re well crisped. If you slice them thinly enough, they’re as crunchy as chips and REALLY good. Almost TOO good…

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Zanitta • June 7, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Roasted parsnips are quite tradional over here in the UK, especially at Christmas or with Sunday dinner, just roast them up the way you would a potato.

A fish I’ve really started to enjoy recently is trout. the flesh looks very similar to salmon but the taste is nowhere near as strong. I tend to out a little piri piri rub on it and pan fry quickly with a little spray of oil, really really nice!

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Chris H • June 7, 2007 at 2:51 pm

Parsnips below to the cows, radishes… yep you are a dork, and I totally agree about fish, most of it tastes the same. Have a wonderful weekend chick.

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Sarah • June 7, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Roasted vegies…ymmm… you’ve inspired me. By the way…a GREAT recipe (in my opinion, that is) is a low carb wrap with hummus and thinly sliced roasted vegies. Eat it at room temp so that the vegies and hummus can work togeter in terms of flavor. It is really satisfying. I tend to forget to roast vegies…but they really aren’t a big deal, are they? Pop them in and let the oven do the work. thanks for the reminder!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • June 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

Haven’t had any parsnips, since I was a kid. I’ll have to try one. I never heard of cooking a radish. Love them sliced in salads. I also stick several in a baggie to take to work a few times a week. Mmm, fish.

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anji • June 7, 2007 at 5:49 pm

ahhhhhh, ammo beat me to it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzpN9ce_qF0

the ol’ fish-heads video! There are TOTALLY gardens full of fish my dear! Maybe not in YOUR neighbourhood but….. you could be the first to start one!

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Marla • June 7, 2007 at 6:37 pm

I think you should try the radishes again – I find that they are very variable, sometimes bitter and sometimes delicious and almost sweet. I don’t know what to look for in a radish, it’s always been hit-or-miss, but definitely give them another chance.

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s • June 7, 2007 at 7:03 pm

Girl, here’s what you do for a delicious taste explosion.

Boil up some peeling parsnips and carrots.

Drain and mash them. Add butter spray.

Prepare to have your mind blown by deliciousness.

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Heather • June 7, 2007 at 8:43 pm

You need to eat: catfish

salmon is very different

swordfish is delicious

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s • June 7, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Oops that is: peel THEM. Peel the parsnip the same way you do the carrot.

And then mash them up together like they were mashed potatoes. Add butter spray and salt.

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d • June 7, 2007 at 11:09 pm

BTW, i remember your turnip kick of a few weeks back.

W/ a turnip, you peel it with a knife to get the waxy skin off. Then you slice it into chunks. Then you boil the chunks, drain and mash with salt, pepper and butter spray.

It’s an acquired taste, but it is really yum.

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Christine in AZ • June 8, 2007 at 1:03 am

Can you recomend a gook book re: glycemic index or glycemic load information??

P.S…Has your brother returned the camera? I can’t wait to see the new pictures!

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Ali • June 8, 2007 at 1:56 am

when you try roasting the carrots, you might like to roast them until the outsides are starting to turn black. They turn all sweet and gooey and yum-o

As for cold roast veggies, nothing beast a cold roast potato. Can’t get enough of it. Especially mashed onto a cold roast pork sandwich. With gravy.

Hrm… I guess I better go turn the oven on and roast something now…

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RG • June 8, 2007 at 8:06 am

I was eating radishes as I read your denouncement of them. Ack! Spring radishes are fabulous because they are mild. I went through a pack of french breakfast radishes last week, and then this week used a pack of easter egg radishes. What I did, a riff off of a recipe from chocolate and zuchinni, was to slice the radishes thin on a mandoline, and lay them on a plate. Sprinkle with sea salt. put a small chunk of avocado on top. That was fabulous, I had stopped eating avocado on a low-fat kick and was suprised by that taste combination: the avocado being mild and smooth, the crunchy-bitter radish offset it beautifully. Though I’ve also been shocked at how much I love sea salt. The easter egg radishes are a range of colors (white, red, purple), and it felt fancy to eat them canape-style without bread. Oh, I did the french breakfast radishes with a dab of goat cheese.

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Amy • June 8, 2007 at 8:27 am

if you lived near the ocean you’d have a more vast array of fish to try. salmon, tuna (real tuna, i mean), haddock…they’re all different. your basic white fish, particularly farm raised, isn’t going to taste like anything because it’s being fed monotonous grain. like a cow. free range fish eat a variety of things and that changes their texture, color and flavor.

and lots of people use fishheads in their gardens, it’s good compost for your plants.

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Lynette • June 8, 2007 at 10:47 am

You could eat radishes like my mom used to: on white bread with butter! She grew up in the Depression so they ate what they grew and apparently, they always had radishes around!

A more figure friendly version, which I am going to try, is the suggestion with the rye bread and smear of ff mayo. Radishes ROCK! :)

Keep up the good work! You are really an inspiration!!!!

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beula • June 8, 2007 at 11:52 am

How hot and for how long do you roast all this stuff? I ended up with broccoli crisps.

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G.G. • June 8, 2007 at 12:09 pm

The taste of fresh tuna, esp. grilled, is worlds away from tuna in a can. Wowza. It is strong, though. Kind of steak-y texture.

Don’t know if you like sushi or not, but experimenting with sushi would be a great way to experience the flavors of different fish, in their highest quality, purest form, in a way that best contrasts their subtle flavor differences. A rainbow roll (which usually has salmon, tuna and cod at least) may be the best bet. You would have to go to a good sushi restaraunt, though. Wouldn’t want to try it at one of those fast-foodish type sushi places.

As a product of the Gulf Coast, I have to recommend grouper and red snapper, if you can get it. Sea bass is good, too–but it’s EXPENSIVE.

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PastaQueen • June 8, 2007 at 11:22 pm

christine – I haven’t read any books just about the glycemic index, but I’m sure if you hit the diet section of the bookstore or library you can find one. I found most of my info online. And sadly no, my brother has not yet returned the camera. I promise I will get it back one way or another next week.

beula – I roast at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, then I pull them out and stir them and go for another 10 minutes. With cauliflower you look for it to start turning a golden brown color. Times and temps may vary according to your oven. At my old apartment I had an oven that cooked very quickly because it was so small.

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jen • June 9, 2007 at 7:30 pm

I just had to give a shout-out to Bunnicula. :)

I only will tolerate a few radishes if they are thinly sliced on my salad. They are too hot for me to eat by themselves. I do admire your produce adventures. It took me a long time to stop thinking everything but carrots and celery were “yuckky” like a little kid.

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Kathy • June 9, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Here’s a tasty recipe for a root vegetable mix. Just leave out the butter if you wish, and I prefer to make it with rutabaga because I don’t like regular turnips

http://www.recipezaar.com/101650

I enjoy reading your blog, love your sense of humor!

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Her Grace • June 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm

I’m new here, but I had to let you know I love this series! I tried parsnips this winter for the first time and was pleasantly surprised. I’ll be back to read more!

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Rah • June 10, 2007 at 10:53 am

Slice the radishes very thin and soak the slices in ice water, then dry. The slices make a zippy, healthy “chip” to scoop up hummus!

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Jeni • June 10, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Hi PQ,

You have been tagged for a “Thinking Blogger Award”. Check out my blog if you would like to participate.

P.S. I saw some parsnips in the grocery store today and smiled to myself because of this post. Love that your so adventurous.

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Mymsie • June 10, 2007 at 11:36 pm

Glad everybody straightened you out about the radii (pl?). Yikes – I can’t imagine ‘em steamed but I do occasionally enjoy them in a salad.

I LOVE seafood – mmm mmm mmm! The sea’s vittles are tasty! I especially love shrimp. They can be prepared so many ways and they cook so quickly.

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Rachel • June 11, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Mmm parnips. I discovered them too after I began eating healthier and went vegetarian and decided to try some of the odder vegetables my parents never fed me as a kid. I’m lazy though, and nuke them for a couple minutes and slather them with the zero-calorie spray butter. A tasty dinner.

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Anna • June 15, 2007 at 2:49 pm

try this way of eating radishes: cut them up into little pieces and mix them into light cottage cheese with some pepper and salt – the cottage cheese counters the spiciness of the radishes, and they add a nice crunch. it’s one of my favorite snacks of all time!

btw – you look terrific in your 180lb picture! so inspirational!

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just a reader • June 24, 2007 at 4:32 pm

try rubbing the fish fillet with a slice of garlic, it really gets rid of the fishy taste. also rubbing it with lemon juice works too. (all of this prior to cooking). give it a try, i’m a fish fanatic, i eat a kilo per week, so about 5 meals. it’s my way of fighting carbs. i really, really must cook something absolutely wonderful, flavorful, and filling in order to avoid carbs, cause i settle for sandwiches and pasta way too easily.

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Deanna • November 12, 2009 at 4:18 am

James Beard had a recipe for cooked celery as a side dish so I can believe cooked radishes.

Have you tried Jicama? Becareful, it’s a tasty rock. You can eat it raw in slices or shredded in salad. I fried some once but they take forEVER to brown and it’s actually better raw.

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