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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Once poor man’s food; now gourmet cuisine

Autumn is swede time. This root vegetable, sometimes also known as rutabaga, that used to be a staple of the poor man’s diet has found its way into the gourmet kitchen. In the “swede winter” of 1916/17 swedes found their way into everything – including jam and coffee substitute.

Cooking with swedes

Traditionally swedes formed part of a tasty stew, along with carrots, potatoes and smoked and salted meat. But they’re also delicious baked in the oven, in a quiche or  Flammkuchen, or on their own as a side dish. Or combine grated young swedes with apples, raisins, nuts, raspberry vinegar and walnut oil to make a delicious and nutritious autumn salad. Make swede puree by cooking the vegetables in salted water and mashing them with butter and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Or create a soup by adding cream, bouillon and a pinch or two of curry. Or try rösti made with grated swede instead of potatoes.

Origin and health benefits

The swede was originally a cross between a turnip (Brassica rapa) and wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea). For cooking people tend to prefer types with yellowish flesh. When the plant is growing, most of the root is above the ground. It’s a fast-growing plant reaching up to 1.5 kg in three to four months. Swedes contain glucose, which gives them a sweetish flavour, minerals, vitamins B1, B2 and C as well as essential oils. Beta-Carotene gives swedes their yellow colour. Because of their high water content, swedes are a low-calorie vegetable.

Quality check in store

When you’re buying swedes, check for freshness and quality. Small swedes with thin smooth skins generally have a fresher and more delicate taste. And there’s less risk of the swede being “woody” when it’s cut open. Check also that there are no worm holes. You can keep swedes for several days in the vegetable drawer of your fridge.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de