Savory Root Vegetable Mash


Hey guys!

As usual, I am blown away by the thoughtful and intelligent comments you guys left on my last post. If you haven’t had a chance to read it (or the responses) yet, please do!

If you read the comments, you’ll notice that I had to clarify a few times what the purpose of the post was. It wasn’t my goalto vilify food or to suggest that you should avoid eating–people, does that sound like me? And it was not, as some readers thought, to suggest that it’s wrong to take pleasure in eating. There is a tendency among some raw foodists to fixate on moving “beyond” food—to reach a place where food is as incidental and insignificant as possible—and I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. It’s both healthy and natural to take pleasure in the experience of eating.

The purpose of my post was to say that we shouldn’t invest food with more significance than it deserves, nor use it as a crutch to cope with our struggles. Food isn’t devoid of meaning—it can signify pleasure and memory in a significant way—but neither should it be the prevailing source of one’s happiness, sense of self, comfort, ease, and so on. No single activity in life should so singularly control your emotions—working, studying, sleeping, exercising, sex, whatever—and eating is no exception!

But enough of that. Now that we’ve de-mystified food, let’s, um, talk about food.

Remember how I said I’d begin sharing a cooked recipe of the month? Last time, it was carrot fries. For the month of October, it’s going to be root vegetable mash. To be honest, I was going to come up with something much more elaborate and cool, but my kitchen time has been limited. And root vegetable mash is such a favorite of mine—and so versatile and tasty—that I figured I’d just go ahead and share.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on a turnip kick. I’ve been spiralizing them, steaming them, roasting them, and shaving them into salads. I love them raw and cooked, but I do find that cooking brings out their sweetness. I’ve also found that they happen to go beautifully with another favorite root vegetable of mine: parsnips.

Though my pal Diana recently discovered she hates parsnips. I love them, A lot. Almost as much as I love carrots (almost–there aren’t many things in life I love more than carrots). And I’m always eager for a chance to eat them. So, with apologies to Diana for ruining a perfectly good turnip dish with the addition of parsnips, I present turnip and parsnip mash.

My basic template for all root veggie mash is simple:

1) Steam two or three cups of your favorite root veggie

2) Blend it in your food processor with a tablespoon of coconut oil, salt, and pepper.

Sure, you can get fancy if you’d like to, and add all sorts of herbs or spices (cinnamon and nutmeg are great; so are parsley and rosemary and thyme), but you really don’t have to; the sweetness of root veggies are enough to make them sing. An addition that can be very tasty is, oddly enough, a teaspoon of dijon mustard; I especially like this with turnips!

I recommend using any root veggies you like, in any combination (with the one cautionary suggestion that you pair beets with something really starchy, like potatoes, or else the beets won’t develop a pudding-like consistency).

A few nights ago, two large turnips, peeled and chopped, met three large parsnips, also peeled and chopped. They hung out in a steam bath for about fifteen minutes, went into my processor with some coconut oil, and got a good whirl (it took me a few minutes and a few stops to scrape the sides of the bowl). I added a teaspoon of mustard, a sprinkle of cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and voila:


A perfectly warm, comforting, and sweet treat.

Root veggie mash is a great way to enjoy root vegetables you might not be a fan of; by mixing them with others, you’ll mask their taste a bit. And it’s a great way to get some starchy food in a quick, digestible form; I love eating these mashes as a pre-workout snack. Try one out for yourself!

And while we’re on the topic of warm food, a few of you have written in to ask me how I stay motivated to eat raw in the winter and fall. The answer is, I never need “motivation” to eat raw—this lifestyle isn’t a challenge I hold myself to, nor should it ever feel that way. When I want cooked foods–and for me, this is usually cooked vegetables or grains–I eat them. This is very infrequent, but it happens more in the cold months, and I don’t hesitate to obey.

If you’re struggling to stay raw through the winter months, the answer might be for you to stop struggling so much! As I’ve said before, it’s not eating 100% raw that matters most, so much as eating a diet of plant-based, digestible foods in good combinations. It’s OK to eat cooked or steamed veggies, soups, easy-to-digest cooked grains, or other simple vegan fare when you want it; just remember to honor your digestion and to also include raw veggies in your diet. A combination of raw and cooked should serve you well, and you may find that by eating some cooked foods, your appetite for raw returns! And if you’re determined to stay the course, check out my friend EarthMother’s useful post on eating raw in winter months. I’ll try to share my own tips with you as temperatures drop, too!

Have a great day, all.


P.S. Please vote for my friend Zesty in the Quaker Challenge!

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  1. I just tried this and am in love with it!! Thanks so much for another great recipe, Gena. 🙂

  2. Thanks Gena, I love a good mash! Today I made one with swede, parsnip, potato and mustard, yummy!!

  3. ooooo yum!! yes, i love my salads but it IS sooo hard to eat raw in the winter months. im rekindling a love with eggplant right now though!! 🙂



  4. Oh more food love….I didn’t discover parsnips and turnips and Brussel sprouts until I found my neighbor’s garden at about age 14 – It was love at first bite. My father lived on these foods in the Navy during WWII and along with cottage cheese requested they never be served – and they were not.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe – I love raw turnip too, but I wondered how one managed potatoes, etc. They are not on my list of raw joys!

    Thank you again for a great post

  5. I can’t wait to try this. My kids and I still enjoy the carrot fries about once a week! Your blog is helping me so much. Just juicing or green smoothies every morning until lunch has made a difference in my digestion. And, I love that you honor digestion, and it is not just about being 100% raw. That had set me up for failure in the past. Thanks Gena!

  6. I love this post, you said it perfectly how one’s attitude toward food should be. So inspirational. And that mash looks DELICIOUS! Wow I love turnips/parsnips and I never know how to eat them so I am definitely trying this! Thank you!

  7. That looks great, I also love steamed spaghetti squash with a little salt and oil or acorn squash with cinnamon. Thanks for the idea!

  8. I like the idea of adding a touch of mustard to your root veggie mash – I bet it adds a nice dimension to the flavour. I’ll have to try it out sometime.

  9. Call me dense. But I can hardly discern mentally (i.e. remember) the difference between a parsnip and a turnip in taste. I dont really crave either and dont eat much of either and my last eating experience of them would have been in last fall’s CSA box from my CSA share in San Diego. They just taste like sweeter potatoes to me. Gosh, now I may need to go buy both and do a side by side taste test to refresh my memory!

  10. I’ve been eating raw for about five days now and have posted my “impressions” so far in my blog, together with pictures. I have to say, I like it a lot more than I ever thought I would! Some of the recipes were such winners, I’ll continue making them over and over again.

    And, really, all because I stumbled into your blog. =]

  11. Looks yum! I have been making a delicious soup/mash recently by blending steamed cauliflower, cashews, paprika, salt, and water. Oh, and this is random, but I just want to rave about my cuisinart hand blender/smart stick. It handles everything- I make soup, nut sauces, even banana soft-serve with it. The best part is that there is only one piece to clean afterwards- the snap-off blending stick. Then I just eat out of the mixing container or use it to store the leftovers. Amazing little device.

  12. Totally agree…we have taken your advice and have been incorporating some warm, cooked meals into our diet. Mainly at night, and we have not been stressing over it. Just been going with what our bodies want…just enjoying life! We love parsnips, we like to grating them on salads to resemble cheese!

  13. Hi, I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while and have always thought raw food were for me. I love the taste and healthiness or raw foods, but digestions seems like such a problem! I feel bloated and have the runs every time I try to do it. I cannot even go running or do any other exercise without having to dash off to the latrine when I try to eat raw foods. I always try to gradually incorporate them in, but it has never helped. Since you’re always talking about digestibility, I was curious if this was ever a problem for you (or someone you know) and how they went about fixing it. Thanks so much! I love your blog!

  14. That mash looks delicious and so simple to make! Perfect for the winter months. Thanks for the recipe! Also, that was a very thoughtful response to my and other’s concerns about your last post.

  15. I also share an intense love of all and I mean ALL root vegetables! Parsnips are amazing, and surprisingly go well with roasted fennel and lightly baked apples or pears yum!

  16. This looks delicious! I might forward it to my mum as a allergy-free alternative to mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving. Thanks!

  17. While living in Peru, (pre-raw, but not pre-vegan), I often made roasted parsnips and turnips with cinnamon. Now I’m definitely going to have to try your mashed version! I’m sure it will bring me back to those cold days in my cute little Peruvian apartment- ahh food memories.

    And yes I echo Gina’s sentiments about your encouragement of incorporating cooked foods if that’s what our body is asking for to eat. My personal belief is that it is never safe to strive for perfection and “punish” yourself for any slip-ups. That is a dangerous path. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

    Adding turnips and parsnips to the mental list for tomorrow’s Farmer’s Market!

  18. Okay, you’ve got me there. I never would think to pair turnips and parsnips. But, hey, why not? I’ll give it a whirl.

    You know my philosophy of raw food/cooked food, mirrors your own. I’ll often enjoy a baked sweet potato or steamed veggies alongside my raw meal when the temps begin to drop. No guilt. But, here’s some tips on how to Stay Warm & Raw This Winter.

  19. That last post fueled a great debate, and understanding what you were trying to say better I have to agree. I have been thinking about it a lot lately, and how food means such different things to everyone. Being in Paris it is such an art form, but treated with such respect and understanding that it is quite beautiful.

    This root mash looks divine. I would love to try a sweet potato mash with cinnamon and agave!

  20. oh i love parsnips! so good– they make excellent “rice” too
    it’s comforting to hear your encouragement to eat cooked food as we crave it, particularly while it’s cold. i’ve been adding more cooked food into my diet with the change of weather and it’s been bueno 🙂
    have a wonderful day <3

  21. Argh, parsnips, the humanity!!!

    Kidding. Eat-qual opportunist that I am (applause, applause), I would actually be willing to give cooked parsnips a try, though I’ve effectively eliminated the raw version from any future meals. Roasting or mashing + blending with other veggies would probably be the safest. The turnips are definitely speakin’ my language though. I will dine on them tonight for the 3rd night in a row and that is fine with me! It might surprise you, but I actually like them raw so much that I’m nervous to try them any other way. I know I should, though.

    You’re definitely right that eating more cooked foods again does make me crave raw eventually, despite the falling temperatures, so for many meals I’ve found a very happy medium combining raw and cooked, depending on the mood. But my precious harukei turnips – they will get a post all to their raw selves tonight! 🙂

  22. I’m with Diana, I hate parsnips! They are just too sweet for me! But your recipe looks great so I think I’ll just sub in regular carrots or another root veggie 🙂

  23. Thank you for your clarification (even though you already know I was 100% already with you 😉 ).

    I’m lucky to have you as my counselor & friend!

  24. Now you tell me it’s okay to eat bread. I just called in a bomb threat to Great Harvest 🙂

    I love parsnips, but have never mashed them. Looks and sounds wonderful!

  25. That looks like my kind of mush! This is a recipe of yours I can make without taking any list to the supermarket, so expect to hear from me about it soon.