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Winter Nutrients are Rich in Root Vegetables

Root VegetablesThe New Year brings new resolutions for eating healthy and getting in shape. Even if you don’t believe in making resolutions, it’s a good time of year to make a FRESH start!

Of course, it’s still cold outside so a big, healthy salad may not be the most desirable option. Did you know that winter root vegetables like parsnips, carrots, turnips, radishes and beets can be healthier than some of our favorite summer vegetables?

They thrive in the cold, harsh winter months and develop a rainbow of dark colors that offer a variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that our bodies crave when days are shorter, sunlight is sparse and immunities are low due to seasonal illness or cold temperatures.

Winter root vegetables are at their peak of flavor in the late fall and winter because it takes extended exposure to near-freezing temperatures to develop good roots and convert starch into sugar. This process is necessary to develop their sweet, nutty flavor. Otherwise, they would taste too bitter. This is especially true in parsnips, rutabagas and turnips.

Parsnips: They may look like a white carrot, but it’s actually sweeter and has a firmer texture. They are high in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and fiber. They are best enjoyed roasted as this cooking technique caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetable.

Rutabagas: A rutabaga is a cross between a turnip and cabbage. They are high in potassium, magnesium, B-6, fiber, vitamin C and protein. The large round root is more dense than a potato and needs to be peeled, cubed and boiled before mashing or roasting.

Turnips: A rich source of vitamin C, turnips also give you a boost of vitamins B, E and K, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.

Carrots: They’re commonly known for their beta-carotene content that is converted to vitamin A and protects against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness.

Beets: These red and golden vegetables are packed with unique phytonutrients called betalains, which provide support for the body’s antioxidants and detoxification process.

Unlike most other red vegetables, which contain a nutrient known as anthocyanin, beets derive their hue from betalains, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The betalains trigger a family of enzymes that bind, neutralize and excrete toxic substances found in cells from the body.

Radishes: High in vitamin C, radishes are helpful in lowering cholesterol, curing urinary tract disorders and increasing the supply of fresh oxygen in the bloodstream.

Some other root vegetables to look for include daikon, horseradish, salsify, celery root and parsley root.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Shallots

1/2 lb medium carrots, peeled
1/2 lb parsnips, peeled
1 turnip, peeled
3 golden beets, peeled
8 shallots, peeled and halved
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs coarse mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450° F. Trim root vegetables and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large bowl, along with the shallots, and toss with remaining ingredients to coat well. Spread mixture onto a large rimmed baking sheet, and roast until vegetables are golden and tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Stir about halfway through cooking time to promote even cooking. If mixture appears too dry, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil.

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