Today on Holistic Living Rachel answers your question…

“What are those funny looking green things?”

If you are anything like me, there comes a point when broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and the other staple root veggies become a little mundane.  Then, just in time, spring arrives, and the produce aisle at the local grocery store starts filling up with lots of new, fresh green vegetables, some of which look very exotic!

Two of my favourite spring time green super foods are fiddleheads and turnip tops.

In my home town of St. John’s, Newfoundland, the fiddleheads are usually a product of New Brunswick or Quebec, and the turnip tops are locally harvested.

Now some of you might be wondering, what on earth is fiddlehead? 

I am sure if you scanned the aisles of the grocery store you would come across them just because of their unique name.  That name is a clear representative of when the little green things look like; the curled decorative top of a fiddle, or violin.

What they are exactly is the furled fronds of particular ferns.  The ones we get in eastern Canada are young Ostrich ferns.   Not only are they interesting looking vegetables, they are nutritional powerhouses, boasting antioxidant properties, omegas 3 & 6, and are high in protein, fibre, vitamin A, C and zinc.

It is important to note however, that fiddleheads are somewhat fragile, as they have to be harvested at a particular stage of their life cycle before they bloom and become toxic, so it is imperative they be stored and cooked properly.

These are the steps I follow to ensure the fiddleheads have been handled with care. 

  1. First, I make sure to keep them in a sealed container or baggie. If I don’t plan on using them right away, it is best to make sure they are stored in water, and that the water is changed daily.
  2. To prepare, I rinse them under running water in a strainer. This gets most of the brownish bits off.  I usually trim the dried ends off at this point as well.
  3. Then, blanch them (immerse in boiling water) for about 3 minutes before proceeding to sauté them.

4. I prefer to sauté them with garlic and shallots, in butter, as it adds additional flavour to their very fresh green taste…YUM!!!

5. You can also add them to stir-frys or pastas.


Now let’s talk about turnip tops, or turnip greens, or just plain “greens” as many local Newfoundlanders like to call them.


They are equally impressive nutritionally as fiddleheads, and surprising more antioxidant rich then kale and cabbage.

Turnip tops are usually a little bitter to taste, which is due to the fact they are high in calcium.  They are also a great source of vitamin K and A.

The great thing is these tops are super easy to cook, and even more so if you leave the stalks on like I do.  All you need to do is either steam or boil them for 5-8 minutes.  A lot of people enjoy them with vinegar or mustard, so experiment until you find what is right for you.  I enjoy them cooked plain, and a little under done so they remain nice and crunchy.

The only downside to this vegetable is that they are usually sold at grocery stores in giant 2 lbs bags, which can be a little daunting, as it is difficult to get through all of them before they go off.

So, if you don’t plan on eating steamed greens every night of the week, here is a recipe for a turnip top pesto that will ensure you use that whole bag!

Turnip Top Pesto


6 packed cups of raw turnip tops, with stems intact

½ cup raw walnuts

4 tbsp pine nuts

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Zest & Juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp salt (or more if desired)

Cracked black pepper to taste

½ cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)


Blend all ingredients in food processor until desired consistency.

Be brave and experiment with these green things!  You won’t be disappointed 🙂

Your LYL Holistic Expert,