Par-snippety Parsnips: Fun Facts



parsnip-photoParsnips are a recent discovery for me–and only because I published a picture book in 2016 called Once Upon a Parsnip! When I wrote the story, it was just the word I liked, and the way it rolled off the tongue with “Once Upon a…” I had never actually eaten a parsnip until a friend cooked up a batch of apple-parsnip soup and served it at a luncheon. De-lish! (The recipe is included in Once Upon a Parsnip.) After the manuscript became an actual book I could hold in my hands, I decided I needed to learn a little more about this par-snippety root vegetable.

Have fun sharing these interesting facts about parsnips with your kids:

1. Parsnips are the perfect diet food. They fill you up and prevent the release of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry.

2. It’s no coincidence that parsnips look a lot like carrots; the two veggies are close cousins. They are also related to parsley, celery, cumin and dill.

3. For two hundred years, parsnips were the main form of dietary starch in the United States–until potatoes became more popular in the mid-1800’s.

4. Parsnips have loads of nutrients, including vitamins C and E, folate, manganese and potassium. They are also rich in fiber and antioxidants.

5. In ancient Europe, parsnips were used mainly as food for farm animals–especially pigs! They are still prized pig food in Parma, Italy, a city famous for its delicious Parma ham.

6. How did parsnips even get to Parma? The Roman Emperor Tiberius imported them from Germany. He named them after the Latin word for “food”: pastus.

7. Parsnips have lots of natural sugar, but they don’t get sweet till after the first frost, when their starches change to sugars. Never pick a parsnip before its time!

8. Before sugar was widely available in Europe, parsnips were used to sweeten jams and cakes.

9. In Tudor times in England, parsnips were also a common ingredient in bread and were used to make wine.

10. People used to eat parsnips to relieve the pain of toothaches and tired feet!

One great way to help your kids remember these fun facts is to let them design a quiz from the information, creating true-false, fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice questions. Kids love to quiz their favorite grownups–especially when they think they can stump them!

Yours factually,

Barbara Jean the Story Queen

Healthy Food

Information adapted from, the,, and Photo credit: Barbara Jean Hicks.



First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a chef. I’m not even a mom. What I know about healthy food and healthy eating I’ve learned by reading and doing, just like you.

What I am is a children’s book author. A Story Queen! My area of expertise is FUN. In the last dozen years, I’ve written a number of entertaining, award-winning picture books–about monsters, cats, Disney princesses–and veggies, of all things. 

I’m big on imagination. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli encourages kids (the way my dad encouraged my siblings and me) to think of broccoli as crunchy, munchy, fun-to-eat trees. Once Upon a Parsnip is a fairytale rematch between Little Red Riding Hood (a vegetarian) and the Big Bad Wolf (NOT a vegetarian). Scary fun!

On the surface, neither of my veggie books is really about healthy eating–they’re just plain fun. But the fun is subversive: both books introduce and normalize the idea of eating healthy, fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. (Never underestimate the power of fun to get your kids to try something new!)

My goal in these pages is to find and share fun ways to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to children and to normalize healthy foods and healthy eating in their experience. My means is to expose them–through you, their parents and caregivers–to food-friendly books, videos, downloadable and printable posters and coloring pages, hands-on activities and kid-friendly recipes. Anything that equates healthy food and FUN!

I’m here for you–to help you make healthy eating feel as natural to your children as breathing. 

Because healthy food and healthy fun make healthy kids. And that’s something all of us can get behind.


Barbara Jean Hicks, a.k.a. “The Story Queen”

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To purchase signed, personalized copies of my picture books, visit the “Books” page on my website.  To contact me about my well regarded young author presentations for schools, or for other enquiries, send an email from the “Contact” page at I look forward to hearing from you!

6 responses on “Par-snippety Parsnips: Fun Facts

  1. JoAnn Bauman says:

    Barbara, love your website. Can’t wait to share it with friends & fellow teachers.
    We’re heading to Southern California for a few months, but hope we can get together when I get back in March.

  2. John S Green says:

    FYI – the submit button is hidden behind the website box. It works if you click the bit showing but many may not see it… John

  3. John S Green says:

    Very interesting… I may have to parse the best parsnip wine to nip on!

    • Barbara Hicks says:

      I wonder if there are parsnip wine recipes lurking on the Internet–will have to check! More interested in practical, kid-friendly parsnip recipes though. 🙂

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