It’s that time of year again, where it’s dark before the day has even begun and we want to spend far too many hours in bed. Well, we all know we won’t do that so why don’t we find ways to enjoy the winter months, what do you say?
There’s no secret that when it gets cold and dark out we prefer heartier meals and more comforting “soul” food. When it’s hot and sticky in the summer months, it is almost unbearable to have the oven on and anything cooking on the stove. So, now that the heat is subsiding (well at least for us upstate NYers) let’s get back in the kitchen. Winter hits just at the right time when all of our root vegetables are in season and how convenient that our ovens and stoves can warm us up when it gets chilly out?
Sometimes in the health food world, root vegetables get a bad reputation because they are dense with carbohydrates. News flash, all carbohydrates are not bad and not created equally. Let’s put this thought process to bed (while we stay awake) and think about the foods as a whole. Root vegetables are REAL FOODs and do not have any added ingredients, they are what they are and they are rich in nutrients to boot.
You could grow your own root vegetables and would not need any processing except of course if you want to get fancy and chop, dice, slice, shred or mash them. That’s the kind of processing I can get behind. So,head on over to your farmers market, grocery store or CSA share and grab a few roots.
What are root vegetables?
These vegetables are those that grow below the ground as the root of a plant. Seems pretty basic, and it is. These roots are not the most pleasing to the eye but they are packed with vitamins and minerals and not to mention taste. The roots of plants need to absorb nutrients and water from the soil in order to survive so as you can guess those bulbous veggies are high in the minerals found in the soil where they are grown. Some break down these vegetabls further into roots, tubers, bulbs, etc. Today we are going to keep it simple and leave root veggies in one group, sorry plant scientists!
The root vegetable family includes:
beets, burdock, carrots, celeriac, daikon, jicama, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, taro, turnips, yams, yucca and more. Pretty much any vegetable you find underground as the edible root of a plant can be considered in the family.
5 Reasons to Eat More Root Vegetables
Ok, so you know what root vegetables are and you know that I think they are good to eat so let’s find out why you should be eating more of them (and so you know what to tell your friends when you do).
- They are nutrient dense. Each bite of a root vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Some common vitamins found in these vegetables are beta-carotene that can be converted in the body to vitamin A, b-vitamins, folate and vitamin C. They are also rich in magnesium, potassium and other minerals found in the local soil.
- They are nature’s “shelf-stable”. You should eat foods that rot, but of course should eat them before they do. Ever seen that picture of a McDonald’s Happy Meal years later, and nothings changed? Well root vegetables do in fact rot, however, they stay fresh much longer than your watery vegetables found in the summer. Many of your root vegetables can stay fresh for weeks or even months if kept at cool temperature in your refrigerator. Healthy and budget-friendly, who’s in!
- They are in-season. While you can find root vegetables at the grocery store year-round you should be able to find fresh and local root vegetables in-season for at least 6 months out of the year, that’s pretty amazing! They grow best from fall to spring, so the only months you will be missing out are your summer months and that’s when we don’t want our ovens on anyway 🙂 When we eat what’s in season we are not only helping the local agriculture but we are also eating food when it has it’s peak nutrient values, leading to overall health.
- They are heart-healthy. This is normally a dead giveaway, veggies protect the heart. However, most people think of their more watery veggies like kale, cucumbers, spinach and celery when they are thinking of heart health. Root vegetables can also prevent against heart disease as they are higher in potassium, lower in sodium and have a great amount of fiber per bite compared to the Standard American Diet.
- They keep you regular. Speaking of fiber, root vegetables are very fibrous and can help keep our guts healthy by providing them with prebiotics to feed our gut bugs and to help keep our bowel habits regular, because after all we all want to be regular in that sense of the term!
Now that I’ve convinced you to eat more root vegetables, how about we try some new recipes this year? Check out a few below that I’ve posted and share your favorite way to enjoy your root vegetables below or share them on instagram #sassyrootveggies
I don’t know about you but I’m rooting for root vegetables on both my plate and yours. Eat up and enjoy.