There seem to be lots of confusion about what a swede is and I've found there's plenty of people who get it confused with a turnip or parsnip, despite the noticeable differences. You need to try this delicious under-valued root vegetable this winter. I started my love affair with swede when I changed my diet to reverse Fatty Liver Disease. I found they were perfect as a substitute for white starchy potatoes. I love swede in my stews, casseroles, soups, roasts, as fried chips and in place of potato in my Tuna Mornay recipe. At that time I had no idea just how healthy they were and the huge benefits they could bring to my sick body.
Check out what swede looks like below.
Swede is a root vegetable that belongs to the cruciferous family (other family members are - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts etc). Swede is actually a cross between a turnip and cabbage. They are known as rutabaga in the United States but are called swede throughout the rest of the world. They are one of the hardiest root vegetables to harvest, they grow seasonally - autumn through to winter. Swede are rounded in shape, with a purple-green skin fading in colour towards the base, the flesh is a creamy-yellow colour. Swede have a sweet, earthy flavour and are best cooked until tender/soft but if overcooked they can fall apart.
Swede has a wide range of health benefits due to its excellent source of vitamins and nutrients. This healthy vegetable is particularly high in vitamins C, E, K and B6, as well as being a good source of manganese, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, carotene and fibre. Just 100g of swede has 41% of our recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, perfect for winter. It's excellent for people wanting to reduce their calories, as boiled swede has only 11 calories per 100gms (100g raw has 3.7g net carbs).
- Helps Prevent and Fight Cancer: Swede contains the sulphur-containing antioxidant, glucosinolate, which has been shown to reduce the growth of cancerous tumors. It contains carotene and vitamin C that fights free radicals and promotes healthy cells.
- Helps with Diabetes and Weight Loss: Swede plays the role of white potatoes but they don't have many carbohydrates that break down into simple sugars, therefore they are an excellent vegetable to assist people who are Insulin Resistant or have Diabetes. High fibre vegetables like swede are also beneficial for metabolism and for filling you up while being low in calories.
- Helps Improve Digestive Health: The fibre in swede feeds the good bacteria in your gut and also helps with constipation.
- Helps Improve the Immune System: The vitamin C in swede can stimulate the immune system to produce white blood cells.
- Helps with Preventing Premature Aging: Swede are effective in fighting free radicals. This helps prevent premature aging, improves eyesight and helps with stimulating the regeneration of cells in your organs and tissues. Vitamin C is a necessary element in the production of collagen, for healing skin, tissue, muscles and blood vessels.
- Helps Build Strong Bones: Swede has a wealth of important minerals, including zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous, all of which are key for maintaining healthy bones and tissues. Keeping your bones healthy will prevent osteoporosis.
- Helps Blood pressure and Cardiovascular Health: The potassium in swede can help lower blood pressure by reducing stress. Its fibre content also helps to reduce cholesterol levels.
HERE ARE A FEW DELICIOUS RECIPES USING SWEDE FOR YOU TO TRY
Selecting and Storing Swede: It's a seasonal vegetable available in the cooler months, choose medium-small, smooth, firm swede that feels solid (heavy for its size), and blemish-free skin. Older swede sold out of season will be softer and have a stronger/slightly bitter flavour. I store my swede in the fridge, wrapped in a slightly damp tea towel in the vegetable drawer and can be kept fresh for 7 - 10 days. When I was researching, I read the suggested way to store swede was in a brown paper bag in the fridge but I have found my version of storage works much better and keeps them firmer. You can also freeze swede when in season. Dice or cut into thin sticks for fried chips, blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain and spread out on a tea towel to dry. Place in a single layer on a tray and pop in the freezer, once frozen place in an airtight container or zip lock bag in the freezer (in most recipes you can pop straight in frozen but you will need to thaw the swede if you are deep-frying).
How To Serve Swede: Trim and peel. Raw swede can be grated and added to a salad like coleslaw. Cooked swede is a healthy alternative to potatoes, so try swapping it in recipes that call for potato. They can be roasted, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, mashed, diced and added to soups and stews. I like to add swede to my mashed sweet potato or cauliflower, you get a heap more nutrients (the swede will take longer to cook, so add your second vegetable once the swede has started to soften and mash with a stick blender). They are useful as a filler in casseroles to not only stretch a meal but to add lots of flavour.
One of my favourite recipes is 'Sweet Swede' (the recipe is in my cookbook 'The JOYful Table'). Simple but delicious. I fry diced swede in ghee or organic butter, with a little maple syrup, ground pepper and top with parsley.
Please have a go at cooking swede this winter and enjoy the wonderful flavour it will bring to your dishes and the great health benefits to your body.
By Susan Joy