Shopping Farmers’ Markets Like a Pro:‘Turnip the Beet’ with These Hardy Root Vegetables!

I admit, I am giddy with excitement anytime I head to the farmer’s market, but in July, I can hardly control myself! 

The second half of July through August is absolutely bursting with color, texture, and of course, flavor at our local farmers’ markets. The produce displays an array of colors that everyone should experience – you truly can “eat the rainbow.” Pick up turnips and beets on your next trip and add deep reds and purples to your plate. 


Turnips are a root vegetable commonly associated with potatoes or beets, but due to their slight spiciness, their closest relatives are radishes and arugula. Turnips are quite versatile. Both the white and purple bulb and the leafy greens are edible, and turnips can be eaten raw or cooked. 

Nutrition facts: 

The turnip bulb provides a healthy dose of vitamin C, while the greens are rich in vitamins K and A. 

TIP: Look for medium-sized, firm, round bulbs. Larger bulbs tend to be hard and woody and not as appetizing. 

How to store turnips: 

If you buy turnips with the greens attached, remove the greens immediately when you get home. Like all root vegetables, turnips will stay freshest in a cool, dark, dry environment and can keep for many months. 

  • Clean and store the greens as you would any other leafy green. 
  • Store the bulbs loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or loose in a root cellar or basement. 

What you can do with turnips: 


  • Roast, mash, bake, add to soups or stews 
  • Peel as you would carrots, if preferred
  • Add a tangy zip to salads  
  • Use alone as a salad – slice thinly and drizzle with your favorite salad dressing 


  • Wash, dry, and sauté in butter or olive oil 

Air Fryer Turnip Bites 

TIP: To replace potatoes or hashbrowns, add these turnip bites to eggs and sausage for a hardy breakfast skillet, or chicken and vegetables for a quick and easy dinner skillet. 

  • Cut 1-1 ½ pound trimmed turnips into ½ inch cubes 
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. 
  • Add turnip cubes and cook for 2 minutes. Drain. 
  • Toss turnips with 1 T olive oil. 
  • Add ½ cup breadcrumbs, 1 t dried dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently. 
  • Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees. 
  • Add turnips to the basket of the air fryer and cook for approximately 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. 
  • Season with additional salt and pepper as desired. 


Along with turnips, beets are also root vegetables that provide an earthy, sweet taste. Sometimes known as a superfood, beets not only add splashes of reds and purples to a meal but are also loaded with nutrients. Like turnips, the greens are also edible. 

TIP: Choose beets that are small and firm with deep maroon coloring and bright green leaves with no sign of wilting. The thin pointy tip of the root should still be attached. 

Nutrition facts:  

The bright red color of beets comes from compounds called betalains. Betalains have powerful antioxidant effects that can help reduce inflammation. Beets can also help decrease elevated blood pressure. 

How to Store Beets: 

To keep fresh for two to three weeks: 

  • Trim off the greens about two inches from the root. 
  • Store loosely in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. 
  • Do not wash before refrigeration. 
  • Greens can be stored the same way, but best to use them right away. 

What to do with beets: 

  • Boil, steam, roast, pickle 
  • Add to smoothies with other fruits and vegetables 
  • Peel as you would carrots, if preferred 
  • Slice up for a zesty pizza topping 
  • A perfect pairing: roast beets alongside their sauteed greens 

Grilled Beets 

TIP: If you are grilling the beets along with other foods and you need a hotter grill, cook the beets on the cooler edges of the grill. 

  • Beets should be placed on a gas or charcoal grill at medium to low heat (300F to 350F) 
  • Peel and cut 4 medium beets into ¼ inch crosswise slices 
  • Put slices in a large bowl, drizzle with 2 T olive oil and toss to coat evenly 
  • Place the beets on the warmed grill and sprinkle with salt to taste 
  • Close the grill cover and cook for 8-10 minutes 
  • Turn the beets over and continue cooking until the beets are tender and grill-marked, another 8-10 minutes 
  • Drizzle with additional olive oil or salt, if desired 

Optional variations: 

  • Sprinkle beets with fresh, chopped herbs, particularly mint 
  • Add a bit of lemon or orange zest 

Pick Your Own Farms are still exploding with fresh berries! 

Check out Sunnyvale Farms near Black River Falls for blueberries and Wold’s Strawberries in Mabel, MN, for black raspberries. 


Heidi Kutz 

Education Specialist, ViaroHealth 

For questions or comments, please contact 

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