Tennessean Op-Ed by John Dyke

How healthy choices can boost your immune system| Opinion

As a local organic grocer for nearly two decades, I am grateful that science continues to support the idea that consuming a healthy diet will improve immunity.

John Dyke, Guest Columnist

Along with crisp temperatures and blue skies, the fall in Middle Tennessee brings the unwelcome elements of increased colds and viruses.

As a local organic grocer for nearly two decades, I am grateful that science continues to support what farmers and others living close to nature have known all along: Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will improve immunity — while consuming highly processed foods can harm your health.

When I started the Turnip Truck in East Nashville about 20 years ago, I set out to bring the farm-fresh foods I grew up enjoying to my city neighbors.

After crossing paths with them at farmers markets and health stores across Nashville, I knew there was demand for natural fare in the heart of the city.

Healthy food helps boost your immune system

New research proves the generational wisdom I’ve followed on this path: Food truly fuels immunity. Along with eliminating toxic stress, staying physically active and drinking plenty of clean water, medical research has zeroed in on a healthy microbiome as a critical factor in overall immunity.

Commonly referred to as “gut health,” the microbiome plays a key role in fighting off illnesses and diseases. Fortunately, in Nashville we have access to plentiful seasonal sources of gut-healthy prebiotics and probiotics.

While probiotic foods contain live beneficial bacteria, prebiotics feed and maintain those bacteria. Together they uphold the complex center of microorganisms responsible for helping the body stay well.

Many are familiar with probiotic foods, including yogurt with live cultures, and fermented foods including kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha tea. Add prebiotics in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains to support the probiotics’ work. Readily available root vegetables such as onions and garlic are excellent prebiotic choices.

How to keep your body strong this winter

Whether you’re just starting out on your road to an immune-boosting diet or you have mastered the art of eating for health, there are practical steps you can take this winter to keep your body strong. I recommend starting with seasonal fare.

In Middle Tennessee, savor autumnal choices, from butternut squash and pumpkins to satisfy root vegetables.

Not only are in-season items fresher and tastier, they are also less likely to be processed, upping their nutritional value.

It’s old advice, but it certainly rings true for immunity: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The freshest items – including produce and all perishables – are around the outer ring of the floorplan, with more processed items (boxed, canned or bagged) lining the center aisles.

Fill most of your cart with perishable items, especially vegetables and fruits. Supplement, but only as needed. We believe a clean supplement can be highly beneficial — particularly during cold-and-flu season.

However, by eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables you can eliminate the necessity of supplements, making them truly supplementary and not essential.

By thinking of food as preventive medicine, we can eat our way toward a healthier and more delicious winter.


John Dyke is the founder and CEO of Nashville’s only full service, locally owned natural foods grocer,  the Turnip Truck.


Roasted Delicata Squash And Farro Salad

Roasted Delicata Squash And Farro Salad

This makes a hearty but low calorie side dish to your holiday meal. Make it vegan by substituting the goat cheese with our favorite French-style vegan cheese by Treeline. 



for 6 servings


  • 1 medium delicata squash, cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, plus a pinch, divided
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 bunch kale, woody stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 4 ½ cups farro, cooked
  • 1 cup canned chickpea, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup creamy goat cheese or vegan cheese, crumbled


  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil



  1. 1) Preheat the oven to 375°F (190˚C).
  2. 2) Prepare the delicata squash. Using a long, sharp knife, remove the ends of the squash, then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rinse and reserve the seeds.
  3. 3) Lay each half of the squash down on its cut side and cut into ½-inch (1-cm) thick slices.
  4. 4) Place the squash in the 3 quart prep bowl along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover the bowl with the lid and shake to fully coat the squash.
  5. 5) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the squash to the baking sheet, spread in a single layer, and roast for 20 minutes.
  6. 6) While the squash is roasting, remove the fennel fronds and bottom end and thinly slice the bulb. Add to the bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and shake well to coat.
  7. 7) After 20 minutes, remove the baking sheet with the squash from the oven and add the fennel, spreading evenly. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes, until the squash is tender and slightly browned and the fennel is tender and caramelized.
  8. 8) Add the delicata seeds to the 1½ quart prep bowl. Depending on how many seeds there are, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and ½-1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Cover the bowl with the lid and shake to coat the seeds well.
  9. 9) Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the seeds in a single layer and add to the oven for the last 10 minutes while the squash and fennel finish roasting, until golden brown.
  10. 10) Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, add the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, Dijon, and garlic. Whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking to emulsify. Season with more salt, if needed.
  11. 11) In a large bowl, assemble the salad. Add the kale, farro, and chickpeas, then the roasted delicata and fennel, and finally the goat cheese. Toss to combine. Top with the roasted squash seeds.
  12. 12) Add the salad to a serving bowl and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
  13. Leftover salad will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  14. Enjoy!


Red Plum Pizza

Red Plum Pizza


This pizza is so delicious and satisfying. It is the perfect way to showcase red plums this season (currently on sale) – and it’s super easy to make. Use the local favorite, Alfresco Pasta Pizza Dough (found in our freezer section), or your favorite brand. 


Alfresco pizza dough (thawed according to package)

2 ripe red plums sliced

1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella

1/8 cup shredded Parmesan

1/4 red onion sliced thinly

2 slices of cooked bacon chopped

Basil leaves


Pizza oil:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon Italian seasonings

Pinch of red pepper flake

Pinch of salt


Roll out pizza, brush with pizza oil. Leave an inch around the edge. Add a layer of Parmesan and mozzarella (save a little for the top at the end), chopped bacon, red onions and plums. Top with the last of the cheese and a few basil leaves.


Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Cook pizza for 5 minutes turn it and cook for another 5 minutes. Check and cook additional until golden brown and delicious!

Contribute to Community: Micro-Donations to PlantTheSeed.org


We’re turning 20, Nashville! To celebrate two decades of bringing local, natural foods to the heart of the city, Turnip Truck is giving back to organizations that share our vision.

Plant the Seed @planttheseedtn employs hands-on learning in school and community gardens to inspire and empower local youth. From April 1-14, Turnip Truck customers will have the option to “round up” totals at checkout. Plant the Seed will keep the change to fund their work with more than 1,400 kids weekly at Cambridge, Casa Azafran, Davis and Ross Early Learning Centers, Explore Community School, Rosebank Elementary and Head Start North.

Your extra change will help Plant the Seed make a lasting difference!

To learn more, visit planttheseed.org.

Update for 2/19 – 2/22

Update 2/22: We’ve resumed regular hours and delivery

Hours for all three stores are Monday to Saturday 7am to 9pm; Sunday 8am to 8pm.


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Due to the ice and snow we will continue to have amended hours through Saturday 2/20 and resume normal hours and Delivery Sunday 2/21.

All three stores will be open Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 9am to 7pm. Sunday we will resume our regular hours 8am to 8pm.

Online ordering for curbside pick up will be available for the East and Charlotte Ave stores for Friday and Saturday. Delivery will resume on Sunday 2/21.

We will continue to have hot soups, paninis and meals on the Hot Bar.

Our Charlotte Ave store has been experiencing some issues with the phone service, but they are indeed open.