Roots: Good To Eat & Good For You

Filed in Gather Food Essential by on February 13, 2007 0 Comments

Roots: Good To Eat & Good For You

Root vegetables are loaded with nutrients as well as flavor. In today’s world they are beginning to come once again into our kitchen in larger numbers after several decades of ignominity.

Appearances can be deceiving, especially so when looks at the humble root vegetables. Banish your memories of Aunt Sue’s watery parsnip purée. Today there is a whole new chapter on these hearty & healthy vegetables. You can add them to almost any meal in many interesting & delicious ways that Aunt Sue never even knew about.

What Are Root Vegetables
Root vegetables, are the following: beets, radishes, rutabagas,  turnips, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, & parsnips.These glorious roots all have a lot going for them. They are relatively inexpensive as well as available year-round, They also have a long shelf life along with their dense, sturdy & wonderfully satisfying texture.

BEETS: Beets contain more natural sugars than many vegetables, but they are still low in calories. Along with some dietary fiber, they provide a little bone-building calcium, potassium, vitamin C & folate.

CARROTS: An excellent source of vitamin A, lutein & zeaxanthin, carrots also provide a good helping of beta-carotene, which may aid in the prevention of cancer, slow aging, improve lung function as well as reduce problems related to Type-2 diabetes. As a bonus, a 1/2 cup serving of chopped carrots has only 26 calories & negligible fat & provides 2 grams of fiber.

PARSNIPS: A 1/2 cup serving of parsnips will net you calcium, folate & potassium, which are important for the body’s fluid balance as well as nerve and muscle function. You will also get the benefits of about 3 grams of dietary fiber as well as small amounts of vitamin C, selenium, & magnesium. All necessary for good health. Parsnips are particularly good served alongside roasted carrots and turnips.

RADISHES: Radishes are very low in calories & contain almost no fat. They serve up a good helping of vitamin C & small amounts of many other nutrients. The root of a plant in the mustard family, radishes have a peppery taste & are delicious munched on raw with a little salt or sliced in a salad. For added crispness, wash & trim the roots then place in icy cold water for 2-3 hours.

RUTABAGAS: Adding rutabagas to a meal will provide a hefty amount of potassium, as well as fiber, vitamin C & even some calcium.

SWEET POTATOES & YAMS: A hearty helping of roasted sweet potatoes supplies loads of beta-carotene & vitamin A in addition to many other vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C,  B-6 & potassium. The beloved sweet potato is perfect as a partner for the roasting pan or simply baked whole.

TURNIPS: Like its root-vegetable cousins, turnips are very low in calories & fat but still provide fiber & vitamin C. Delicious & satisfying, turnips ensure you will not be looking for a snack an hour after your meal. Try them boiled, microwaved, or roasted whole or in large wedges. They are also great when served with meats or poultry.

Root vegetables are considered to be simple foods, rustic in nature more than glitzy yet they deliver a myriad of complex & delicious flavors. Some are used raw, some must be cooked but all are loaded with flavor, versatiltiy & a wealth of nutrition.

“Although they are heartier than their more water-filled summer and spring cousins, they are generally lower in calories than most people think,” says Cynthia Sass, R.D. and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Each vegetable has only 20 to 120 calories per cup. “Root vegetables vary in color, and color variety is key to taking in a wide variety of phytochemicals,” she says. Phytochemicals essentially act as bodyguards for cells, helping to reduce the risk of diseases and conditions, from heart disease to cancers. In addition to being nutritious, root vegetables make delicious side dishes when served with meat, chicken, or fish. Toss them into salads, soups, purées, and pasta sauces or add leftovers to frittatas, soups, and stews. Root vegetables are tasty and easy to prepare by boiling or steaming, which doesn’t add a lot of fat. “added Sass.

Storage & Preparation of Root Vegetables
Most root vegetables will keep from 1-3 weeks when stored in perforated plastic bags or net bags in the refrigerator. Do not refrigerate sweet potatoes, however. Store them in a cool, dry location. Before cooking, scrub root vegetabless well under cool running water to remove any dirt. Peel if needed then trim the ends & any stems.

Cut root vegetables into chunks then microwave them with a small amount of water. Thinly slice root vegetables then toss them into a stir-fry.  Bake or roast them in your oven either whole or cut into chunks or slices. Roasting root vegetables softens the flesh along with caramelizing their natural starches & sugars. This intensifyies their flavors.

Miss Nerva’s Mashed Roots
Categories: Vegetables, Sidedish, Southern
Yield: 6 servings

½ lb Carrots peeled & coarse chopped
½ lb  Parsnips peeled & coarse chopped
½ lb  Turnips peeled & coarse chopped
½ lb  Rutabagas peeled & coarse chopped
½ lb  Yams peeled & coarse chopped
2 ea Garlic cloves & minced
3 tb Extra virgin olive oil
3 tb Half-n-Half
Salt & pepper totaste
2 tb chives snipped & fresh

Place garlic, carrots, parsnips, turnips, yams & rutabagas in a 4-qt pot.
Add enough water to cover by 1.
Bring to”a good boil then reduce heat for slow  rolling boil.
Cover & simmer for 30-35 mins. until vegetables are fork tender.
Drain & eturn vegetables to pot.
Mash vegetables lightly with a potato masher.
Mash in olive oil, Half-n-Half, salt & pepper.
Transfer to a serving bowl; sprinkle with chives.

NervaFoster, Tallahassee-FL, circa 1974

Miss Nerva’s Beef Soup w/ Root Vegetables

Categories: Soup, Southern, Beef, Vegetable
Yield: 8 servings

1½ lb beef chuck or round steak boneless
3 ea 14 oz cans reduced-sodium beef broth
1 c  water
2 ea ribs celery sliced 1/4″ thick
1 ea onion coarse chopped
1 ea carrot sliced 1/4″ thick
2 ts dried thyme crushed
2 ts Worcestershire sauce
2 ea garlic cloves minced
Salt & ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
2 ea potatoes cubed 3/4″
2 ea turnips, peeled & cubed 3/4″
1 ea sweet potato peeled & & cubed 3/4″
Butter as required

Trim fat from steak.
Cut steak into ¾-inch cubes.
Coat an unheated 4-qt Dutch oven with butter.
Pre-heat skillet over medium-high heat.
Brown meat on allsides in hot pan until browned.
Add beef broth, water, celery, onion, carrot, dried thyme, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt & pepper & bay leaf.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
Cover then simmer about 1¼ hours until meat is nearly tender.
Discard bay leaf.
Stir in potatoes, turnips & sweet potato.
Return to boiling then reduce heat.
Cover & simmer for 12-15 mins. more until meat & vegetables are tender.
Stir in thyme & adjust to taste with salt & pepper.

NervaFoster, Tallahassee-FL, circa 1974


The Essential Root Vegetable Cookbook
By: Martin Stone
ISBN #: 978-0517576236

Copyright © 2008 Donald R Houston, PhD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author’s consent.

About the Author ()

Viet Nam vet with the usual baggage but mine is now packed away. Public health specialist & medical anthropologist have worked all over the globe, most recent work since 1988 in the former Soviet Union (now the CIS/NIS) & based out of Flo

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