Get to Know Your Roots!
by Elisa Bremner, RD
It’s time to get back to your roots. As cool weather crops, root vegetables such as beets, carrots, radishes and rutabagas are coming to fruition right about now. And the timing is perfect – being naturally high in Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, root vegetables can help boost your immune system just as we head into cold and flu season. All roots provide sustained energy in the form of complex carbohydrates. As very good sources of fiber, they also help with the natural flow of your digestive system. Nutritionally speaking, root vegetables are like buried treasure.
Here are some highlights from below ground:
• Carrots – very good source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium – carrots help with immune function, vision, cell growth and blood clotting.
• Celeriac (celery root) – very good source of vitamin C and phosphorus, a mineral critical to the formation of bones and teeth.
• Beets – very good source of folate, a B vitamin needed to make DNA. In nature’s infinite wisdom, the sugar-rich beet is also a very good source of manganese, a mineral important to blood sugar regulation.
• Jicama – a Mexican tap root with the texture of a water chestnut and the sweetness of carrots, this vegetable contains plenty of fiber and vitamin C, despite its dull brown and white appearance.
• Parsnip – this carrot shaped, white-colored root provides plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese.
• Rutabaga (also referred to as “swede”) – very good source of vitamin C, manganese and potassium, which helps normalize blood pressure.
• Turnip – can be eaten raw or cooked, contains plenty of vitamin C and manganese
We know these vegetables are nutrition powerhouses, but how can we fit them into our diet? For starters, try grating some carrot into your turkey taco meat. Believe it or not, beets make a very good chocolate (dare we say “red velvet”?) cake. Parsnips can be blended into soups for a creamy texture. Mash celeriac or parsnip into potato for a nutritional boost. Jicama tastes great in coleslaw or crudités. Be creative; roots are very forgiving.
Basic Roasted Root Vegetables
Stick it in the oven and forget it! Roasting brings out the sweetness of roots.
Peel and dice root vegetables of your choice.
Place in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil or coat with spray oil. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 30-45 minutes until tender, stirring midway through baking. Season with salt and pepper.
My Mom’s Yummy Celeriac
Scrub celeriac. Boil until soft, approximately 30 minutes. Peel and cut into ½ inch cubes. Add cider vinegar, olive oil, pepper and salt to taste. Leave to marinate at least an hour or overnight. Just before serving, mix in some fresh, chopped parsley.
Bashed Neeps and Carrots
This is a British tradition, compliments of Delia Smith, the Julia Child of the UK!
12 oz. Carrots, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
12 oz. Swede (also known as Rutabaga), cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
1 teaspoon butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the carrots and swede in a saucepan with some salt and enough boiling water just to cover the vegetables. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, but not mushy. Drain them in a colander. Chop them with a sharp knife until the vegetables are minutely chopped – or pop them in a food processor and use the pulse button with caution. Transfer the vegetables to a warmed serving dish. Chop in the butter and some freshly milled pepper, then serve.
For more delicious and nutritious recipes visit the NWH Nutrition page.