This is the time of year when we start thinking about hearty soup, yummy baking, and warm cozy dinners. A delicious and healthy addition to your winter meals can be root vegetables! Tubers, roots, and bulbs are all root vegetables which grow underground at the base of the plant and really are buried treasures. Some examples are onions, carrots, beets, potatoes, yams, parsnips, ginger, and turmeric. Root vegetables have extended shelf-life and will keep for several weeks stored in a cool dry place. They are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The skins of root vegetables (and most vegetables) store many of their nutrients, so avoid peeling them unless the skins seem tough or thick. These often-overlooked veggies have both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber which may lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and are nice slow digesting complex carbohydrates to add to your winter meal.
Each root veggie provides something slightly different: potassium (potatoes, radishes, parsnips), magnesium (turnips, parsnips), folate (beets, parsnips), vitamin A (carrots, yams, sweet potatoes), vitamin C (turnips, rutabagas, potatoes) & calcium (turnips). Beets contain particularly healthful phytochemicals called betalains which give beets their distinctive red-violet and even yellow hue. Betalains are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and may be helpful for cardiovascular health. So, a nice colorful combo of these veggies will provide you and your family with a varied mix of nutrients!
Another wonderful thing about some root vegetables is that you can eat the tops too! Beet and turnip greens are delicious stir fried with some chopped onion and garlic. Add some cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a splash of apple cider vinegar right at the end of cooking. So, next time you see these hearty winter root vegetables in your local supermarket, don’t be afraid to pick a few up and give them a try!
Check out the blog later this week for some great root veggie recipes!
Gina Berry, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian with a Master's degree in nutrition science and over 15 years of experience providing nutrition therapy to people of all ages and stages of life.