Carbohydrates give us energy. But some carbs are better for our health than others. There are two types of carbohydrates we talk about in nutrition.
1 Simple carbohydrates give us a rapid spike of energy. These kinds of carbs are found in the likes of white bread and sugary treats.
If we eat too many of them too often we can become addicted to them, and that addiction can drive further over-eating of them, which increases the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Simple carbohydrates are basically derived from processing and refining complex carbohydrates.
2 Complex carbohydrates give us energy too, but they also contain fibre plus minerals plus vitamins and they are essential for our health. If we eat from our vegetable garden and orchard, we are always going to be eating complex carbohydrates and we are much more likely to avoid ill- health. The sugars that are part of the complex carb food are slower to break down into simple sugars so they give us sustained energy. Our energy levels remain even throughout the day, rather than getting those peaks and troughs of energy that drive us to make poor food choices.
Root vegetables are complex carbohydrate foods of the starchier variety, thus higher in carbohydrates than other veges, but still providing us with an essential variety of minerals, fibre and vitamins.
The parsnip is an often overlooked root vegetable which we should all enjoy eating, not only for its deeply satisfying and earthy sweet flavour but for providing us with its own unique selection of nutrients. Parsnips are higher in fibre and lower in kilojoules than potatoes. They are a good source of folic acid and other B vitamins.
Make a batter of peeled, boiled and pureed parsnips combined with egg, a glug of
good oil, ground almonds, a little rice flour, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. This should be a relatively stiff batter which you can form into golf ball sized balls. Place on an oven tray and bake at 175oC for about 20 minutes before serving with a fresh pesto or aioli for a delicious entre or hors d’oeuvre.
Meryn Wakelin is a naturopath and nutrition consultant. www.healnaturally.co.nz
Potatoes - Heather