Keto crowd pulls old faithfuls like rutabagas, turnips into limelight
I love rutabagas. Really.
Aren't sure what that is?
Rutabagas look like cream-colored, elongated turnips with a purple top. Since they're a root vegetable, rutabagas have never won a beauty contest. It turns out rutabagas are a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Kind of makes you wonder how that happened?
When you come across rutabagas in the supermarket, you'll probably wonder why conventionally-grown rutabaga has a coat of a fairly-clear wax. That wax coating is supposed to keep fresh rutabaga from losing moisture. That coating also raises the hassle-factor for preparing rutabaga, since they must be peeled (like butternut squash).
There are two reasons I choose to go with organic rutabagas: no wax coating, making preparation quicker (plus I can put the peels in my compost pile) and there's no petroleum-based fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide chemicals used in farming organic rutabagas. That's why I buy organic turnips, too.
For well over a year I've been following the two hottest weight-loss food plans: ketogenic and Paleo. Each seems to have its pluses. Ease of planning a daily food plan is not one of those pluses. Potatoes are one of my favorite tubers, but ketogenic diets consider potatoes a serious no-no, due to its high carb content (82 grams per pound). It should come as no surprise that's why cauliflower's been a big hit with the keto crowd with almost a quarter of potatoes carbs (22.5 versus 82). When it comes to net carbs (carbs minus fiber), cauliflower and other vegetables are big winners. Cauliflower has just 17-percent of the net carbs of potatoes. Rutabagas and turnips are big winners when it comes to net carbs, too. Rutabagas have one-third of the net carbs of potato and turnips fair even better with just a little over a quarter of a potato's net carbs. That explains why ketogenic-friendly recipes use cauliflower, turnips, and rutabagas as substitutes for the not-so-keto-friendly potato. Old time high-protein, high-fat weight loss meals were not known for their fabulous food. Come on, how much tuna salad and how many hard-boiled eggs can anybody eat and still enjoy mealtime? Strolling through Mark Sisson's "The Keto-Reset Diet Cookbook" led me to a root vegetable casserole that, thanks to the picture, looked sensational and included one of my currently favorite cheeses: cave-aged Gruyere.
After reading Sisson's recipe, I realized it was like a Potatoes Dauphinoise (basically, potatoes cooked in cream) that I've successfully made for holiday gatherings. Those potatoes don't suit a ketogenic diet, but rutabagas and turnips certainly do.
I put the two concepts together and made a casserole using the Dauphinoise foundation and substituted out the potatoes. My love of rutabagas got me excited to see how this would work.
Great news, my ketogenic switcheroo worked splendidly, and from my first taste, I knew I had a ketogenic-friendly winner. It was hard to tell that I hadn't used potatoes in my new dish. Give this a try before the weather turns too warm; I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.