Fall is in the Roots
By Lisa Metzgar, PhD – Nutrition Tidbits
Fall is almost here and soon the veggie garden is full of root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, turnips, and beets.
Root vegetables are a great source of many nutrients because they absorb minerals and other nutrients straight from the soil as well as getting them from their leaves that soak up the sun. There are many vibrant colors of these tasty vegetables including the orange of carrots, the deep reds of beets, the gold of sweet potatoes, and even the purple of some potatoes. This year we planted these delightful potatoes and my daughter thought it was the coolest to have purple French fries!
All of these beautiful colors mean that they are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients. The deeper and richer the color , the more phytonutrients. Beets are beneficial for keeping LDL cholesterol (the small sticky molecules of cholesterol) from clogging arteries protecting our hearts and preventing strokes. Carrots have high vitamin C content and beta carotene that protects eyes and lowers risk of cancer. Onions and garlic help lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease and stoke, and boosts immune function. Many roots have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Ginger is great for nausea, garlic is an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, burdock root is great for skin, and fennel root has been used to improve digestion.
Root vegetables were once thought of as peasant food. They are easily grown and harvested and can be stored throughout the winter for inexpensive nutrition. They are high in complex carbohydrates, high in fiber, and low in calories and fat. They can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, steamed, BBQ, juiced, eaten in salads, and eaten raw.
One great way to eat root vegetables is to roast them. Roasting brings out the sweetness by breaking down the sugars. The more you cook a root vegetable, the higher the Glycemic Index which means the sugars move into the blood stream faster.
Here is a great recipe that I found for Roasted Root Vegetables.
Rustic Balsamic-Roasted Root Vegetables
Serves 6-8 people as a side dish
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup Pinot Gris
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chervil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse French sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 baby red potatoes, quartered with skin on
4 white fingerling potatoes, with skin on, sliced ¼-inch thick on the diagonal
3 purple potatoes, quartered with skin on
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 medium yam, halved then sliced ¼-inch thick
1 small beetroot, quartered with skin on
1 large carrot, with skin on, sliced ¼-inch thick on the diagonal
1 bulb garlic, peel cloves and leave whole
1 chipolone onion, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
Preheat oven to 375.
Prepare the balsamic marinade:
Combine all ingredients, whisk together and set aside.
Prepare the root vegetables:
Place the roots into a large mixing bowl. Pour the prepared marinade over the roots and toss to coat. Place into 13â€³x9â€³ pan, assemble rosemary sprigs on top. Roast uncovered for approximately 45 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Pierce with a fork to test for tenderness.