Turn to turnips

Favoured by the royals, turnips are a rich source of minerals and vitamins

"I was raised almost entirely on turnips and potatoes, but I think that the turnips had more to do with the effect than the potatoes." Marlene DietrichTurnips have been cultivated in central and southern Europe for over 4000 years. Today, the root is a popular vegetable throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe. Before the turnip became the favourite of the royals, it was regarded as a humble food. According to legend, the Samnites, who sent ambassadors bearing gold to seduce Curius Dentatus (270 BC) from his allegiance, gave up their attempt when they discovered him roasting turnips in a hearth. The Samnites realised they could never tempt with gold a man who preferred so spartan a food. The Romans ate turnips with oil, honey, vinegar and cumin. During Henrys VIII's time, turnips were eaten baked or roasted, and turnip shoots were eaten as a leafy vegetable. Before potatoes made their way to Europe from the Americas, turnip was a staple on European dining tables. The Pennsylvania Dutch used turnips instead of cabbage in their version of coleslaw. Before Charles "Turnip" Townshend (1674-1738), 2nd Viscount of Raynham, popularised turnips as a winter livestock feed in Europe, cattle were butchered before fall because most farmers could not afford winter hay. Turnips helped avoid the yearly glut of unsold meat, and kept cattle alive and fat through winter. Food uses: Leaves and root are the edible parts of turnips. The leaves are common ingredients in the `soul' cuisine of African Americans. In Europe, the root is a popular addition to many warming winter stews. The roots are edible cooked, as well as raw, and turnip slices figure in many salads and soups. In the Orient, turnip strips are preferred stir-fried. Nutrition: 100 gm of turnip root contains just 30 calories, and contains a big chunk of a day's Vitamin C requirement. In fact, early New England settlers ate turnips to prevent Scurvy. The leaves contain fewer calories - 23 per 100 gm, and are rich in Thiamine and Vitamin C. Turnips are also a good source of riboflavin, magnesium, carotene, manganese, folate, calcium and iron. Medicinal uses: Turnip seeds are rich in fatty acids and were a traditional remedy for cancer in European culture. Crushed ripe seeds were used in poultices for burns. RAJIV. M

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