Kidding Around: Parsnip Dishes For Younger Eaters

Convincing a fussy eater to try a new vegetable is like pulling teeth for all parties involved. Even though the chef knows that younger eaters will most likely enjoy the dish, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a kid would even try the dish. By tweaking a few kid classics, you can sneak the nutritional value and sweet flavor of parsnips right under the nose of picky eaters without them even realizing that they’re eating a healthy vegetable. Feel free to use these dishes as inspiration the next time you need to run a covert vegetable operation.

Parsnip Fries

One of our favorite ways to share new vegetables with kids is by incorporating them into familiar dishes. Parsnip “fries” are an especially great example of this practice, as they look, taste, and feel similar to regular french fries, but have a substantially better nutritional profile. While you can get fancy with the spices, the sweetness of parsnips speak for themselves, so you can easily get by with some simple salt and pepper. 

Parsnip Muffins

Essentially a healthier twist on carrot cake muffins, parsnip muffins often have less added sugar than their carrot counterparts due to the natural sweetness of parsnips! Parsnip muffins are great friends to a variety of different fruits and vegetables, but go particularly well with fresh apples. Seasoning wise, it’s best to pair the two with winter spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Parsnip “Pancakes” 

Equal parts pancake, hashbrown, and latke, this dish is a satisfyingly filling breakfast item to include on your menu. To prepare, first boil and mash your parsnips (you can include healthier starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or rutabagas as well), then shape and fry them until they’ve gained a golden-brown hue. If you have cookie cutters on hand, use them to create fun, appealing shapes that the kids will be sure to enjoy. 

Parsnip Hummus

Baby carrots and hummus is one of the best schoolyard snacks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be expanded upon. For a sweeter kick, try incorporating parsnips into the hummus itself and then serving alongside baby carrots. You can wholly substitute the traditional chick peas for parsnips, but be sure to incorporate tahini for some Mediterranean flavor.

Mac and Cheese… and Parsnips

When removed from its store-bought, boxed cousins, mac and cheese can be a fresh, tasty main course for kids of all ages. We like to get the creative juices flowing by working with seasonal vegetables in our mac and cheese and parsnips are one of our favorite ingredients to work with. Their natural starchy and sweet aspects simultaneously soak up and sweeten excess flavors in the dish, bringing a winterized earthiness that will remind your students of the holidays.