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  • Healthy Holiday Meal Makeover

    If you’re concerned about cutting carbs this holiday season, you may want to consider substituting celery root for mashed potatoes this year at your table. Coming in at only 8 grams of carbohydrates per cup versus a whopping 24 grams per cup (raw and cooked is 29 grams per cup…yikes!!!), celery root’s drastically lower carb stat is a compelling attention getter. Although homely in appearance celeriac, commonly called celery root, is a root vegetable that has a delicate blended taste of celery and parsley with a slight hint of nuttiness. It is extremely low in cholesterol and is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and manganese, and a great wintertime source of vitamin C and phosphorus.

    Celery root is often available year-round, especially in temperate climates, but is at its best in the cooler months of late fall, winter, and into early spring. Its’ flesh is crispy when raw and becomes silky-smooth when cooked. So even though you may consider celery root to be the ugly sister that nobody wanted to invite to the prom if you’re serious about drastically cutting carbs this holiday season, you may want to reconsider inviting her to your holiday dinner party.

    How to Buy Celery Root
    Look for celery roots that feel heavy for their size. If any green stalks on the top of the root are present, they should be fresh looking—not dried out or wilted. Celery root is difficult to peel, because of its tough skin and its many nooks and crannies, so look for specimens with as smooth an exterior.

    How to Store Celery Root
    Since celeriac is a root vegetable, it stores well and for a long time as long as it is kept in cool dark place. Keep it loosely wrapped in plastic in the vegetable bin of your fridge and it will last up to a few weeks.

    How to Use Celery Root
    Celery root needs to be peeled. Remove the entire slightly hairy brown exterior to reveal the creamy, solid flesh inside. I recommend using your sharpest knife that has heft, as a small peeling knife will not work well.

    One of my favorite ways to prepare this vegetable is a purée. I actually prefer it better than traditional, straight up mashed potatoes, because it tastes lighter and creamier and has a silky texture with a complex hint of herbs.

    Celery Root Purée
    1 ½ cups low fat, 2% milk (do NOT use skim or 1%)
    1 ½ cups water
    1 ½ tsp. salt
    1 large celery root (about 1 ¼ pound total), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
    1 large cooking potato, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
    (I prefer Yukon gold, because of their buttery taste)
    ½ small onion, peeled, quartered
    3 T. butter
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
    Chopped fresh chives (optional)

    1. Bring milk, water, and salt just to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Add to the pan celery root, potato, and onion; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard cooking liquid.
    2. If you have a hand blender, add the butter to the saucepan and purée the vegetables. Or if you prefer, combine vegetables and butter in processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    3. Top with freshly chopped chives, if desired.
    Serving size: Serves 4