Tasty Tuesday – Root Vegetables 11/10/15
Posted on - Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 by admin
When you think about root vegetables, what do you think of? Most of us can name a few of the obvious ones like carrots, beets and turnips. But did you know that sweet potatoes, ginger and parsnips are also a part of the root family? Some root vegetables are given a bad rap because they have the reputation of tasting earthy and even bitter. But relax these veggies are amazing for your health, versatile in the kitchen and absolutely delicious when prepared properly.
The Health Benefits of Root Vegetables
Roots are some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables in the world. While each root contains its own set of health benefits, they share many of the same characteristics. Yams, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, yuca, kohlrabi, onions, garlic, celery root (or celeriac), horseradish, daikon, turmeric, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes, and ginger are all considered roots.
Because root vegetables grow underground, they absorb a great amount of nutrients from the soil. They are packed with a high concentration of antioxidants, Vitamins C, B, A, and iron, helping to cleanse your system. They are also filled with slow-burning carbohydrates and fiber, which make you feel full, and help regulate your blood sugar and digestive system. This factor, plus the high-octane nutrients and low calories, make roots excellent for people who are trying to lose weight, or simply stay healthy.
Adding up all of the nutrient qualities, root vegetables are disease-fighting, immunity and energy-boosting, and are also extremely versatile in cooking.
What is the Best Season for Root Vegetables?
Most root vegetables are available year round, but their peak season is fall through spring, with the exception of beets, which are best summer through fall. When in-season, roots have a deeper, sweeter flavor and tend to be juicier, but they are one of those plants that seem to stay consistently great all year long.
How Do You Choose Roots?
Selecting good root vegetables is the opposite of selecting good fruit–the harder, the better. They should be smooth and free of gashes or bruises. When choosing roots that come with leafy greens (a bunch of beets, for example), make sure the stems and leaves of the greens are firm and bright.
Want more info? Here are some quick facts regarding root vegetables:
Beets // Touted as a superfood, beets are among the healthiest foods on the planet.
Parsnips // Parsnips have a cinnamon-y flavor and resemble large white carrots (or albino carrots, as I like to call them). They are harder than carrots and have a deeper, warm flavor.
Turnips // While turnips are versatile, they are very subtle in flavor, which makes them great for pairing with more strongly flavored vegetables.
Rutabagas // Similar to turnips, rutabagas are subtle in flavor. They are harder than turnips and taste a bit more earthy.
Carrots // Crisp and sweet, carrots are perhaps the most popular root vegetable because they are perfect for eating raw.
Yuca Root // Starchy and subtle in flavor, yuca is often used the same way in cooking as potatoes.
Kohlrabi // Underneath the thick skin and strange tentacles of kohlrabi lies juicy, crisp flesh. Kohlrabi can be cooked or left raw, and it makes delicious oven-baked fries.
Ginger // Similar to beets, ginger is a powerhouse root due to its natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties. With a sweet, spicy, yet creamy flavor, ginger can be used in a large variety of foods and drinks. Ginger is most often used in ethnic food alongside coconut milk and a variety of vegetables, but its uses are virtually endless.
We love Beets most of all and here are some facts regarding beets:
What’s most striking about beets is not the fact that they are rich in antioxidants; what’s striking is the unusual mix of antioxidants that they contain. We’re used to thinking about vegetables as rich in antioxidant carotenoids, and in particular, beta-carotene; among all well-studied carotenoids, none is more commonly occurring in vegetables than beta-carotene.
Coupled with their status as a very good source of the antioxidant manganese and a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, the unique phytonutrients in beets provide antioxidant support in a different way than other antioxidant-rich vegetables. While research is largely in the early stage with respect to beet antioxidants and their special benefits for eye health and overall nerve tissue health, we expect to see study results showing these special benefits and recognizing beets as a standout vegetable in this area of antioxidant support.
Many of the unique phytonutrients present in beets have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory compounds. In particular, this anti-inflammatory activity has been demonstrated for betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin. One mechanism allowing these phytonutrients to lessen inflammation is their ability to inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (including both COX-1 and COX-2). The COX enzymes are widely used by cells to produce messaging molecules that trigger inflammation. Several types of heart disease—including atherosclerosis—are characterized by chronic unwanted inflammation. For this reason, beets have been studied within the context of heart disease, and there are some encouraging although very preliminary results in this area involving animal studies and a few very small scale human studies. Type 2 diabetes—another health problem associated with chronic, unwanted inflammation—is also an area of interest in this regard, with research findings at a very preliminary stage.
The betalin pigments present in beets have repeatedly been shown to support activity in our body’s Phase 2 detoxification process. Phase 2 is the metabolic step that our cells use to hook activated, unwanted toxic substances up with small nutrient groups. This “hook up” process effectively neutralizes the toxins and makes them sufficiently water-soluble for excretion in the urine. One critical “hook up” process during Phase 2 involves an enzyme family called the glutathione-S-transferase family (GSTs). GSTs hook toxins up with glutathione for neutralization and excretion from the body.
It’s important to note two other areas of potential health benefits associated with beets: anti-cancer benefits and fiber-related benefits. The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules in beets makes this food a highly-likely candidate for risk reduction of many cancer types. Lab studies on human tumor cells have confirmed this possibility for colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate and testicular cancers.
Glazed Turnips with Bacon
Turnips have an inherent sweetness that is highlighted by the syrup, cider vinegar and Dijon mustard combination used to make the bright glaze. The smokiness of the bacon provides a savory counterpoint.
Prep: Total Time: Servings: 12
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 pounds baby turnips, peeled and halved or quartered
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar, preferably unfiltered
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium, stirring frequently, until browned and most of fat is rendered, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Add turnips, broth, maple syrup, vinegar, and mustard to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until turnips are knife-tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Uncover and increase heat to medium. Add butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens to a glaze that evenly coats turnips, 10 to 12 minutes. Top with bacon; serve.
Roasted Root Vegetables with Tomatoes and Kale
Fall has arrived! It’s starting to get cold in many parts of the country, so how about this winter recipe? So gather up these root vegetables and get ready for a great treat.
It’s a ragout of sorts, roasted root vegetables that are tossed in a chunky tomato sauce with shreds of kale. Great for a side, or a hearty meatless meal in itself.
Prep: 20 minutes | Total time: 55 minutes | Servings: Serves 6 to 8
- 3 to 4 pounds of root vegetables such as parsnips, rutabagas, carrots, potatoes, golden beets, turnips, and celery root, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 head of garlic, the cloves separated and peeled
- 6 Tbs olive oil, divided 3 Tbsp and 3 Tbsp
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups (packed) of chopped leafy greens such as kale or chard
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano
- Black pepper to taste
- Tabasco sauce (optional, to taste)
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Into a large roasting pan, mix together the vegetables, garlic, 3 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 45 minutes, turning the vegetables over in the pan halfway through cooking.
- Meanwhile in a 4 to 5 quart Dutch oven, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté until the edges of the onions just begin to brown. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook a minute longer.Using your hands, tear the canned tomatoes into large pieces as you add them to the pot. Add the remaining liquid from the can into the pot. Stir well. Add the Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cover the pot and let cook gently while the root vegetables are roasting.
- When the root vegetables are ready (they should be browned on the edges and easily pierced with a fork), remove from the oven. Add chopped leafy greens to the pot of tomatoes. Simmer until the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the root vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Season with Tabasco to taste if using.
Cider Vinaigrette Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe
One of my favorite sides to any holiday meal is roasted root vegetables. Parsnips, carrots, rutabagas, beets, sweet potatoes—they’re all so good! Root vegetables have a lot of natural sugars in them which caramelize when roasted at a high enough temperature. They’re also packed with vitamins and beta carotene. So, starchy they may be, but they are also good for you too.
The one thing about those sweet vegetables, so perfect for caramelizing, is that they love a little acidity to sharpen their flavor. Which is why you find orange-glazed carrots and balsamic roasted beets. We’ve taken a similar approach with this melange of roasted root vegetables, by tossing them in a strongly acidic vinaigrette of cider vinegar, olive oil, and a little brown sugar, before roasting them.
The vinegar intensifies the taste of the vegetables, and brings balance to their natural sweetness.
Prep: 25 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes | Servings: Serves 6 to 8
- 4 medium golden beets, peeled, thickly sliced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled, sliced lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces
- 3 medium garnet yams, sliced lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces
- 4 medium parsnips, peeled, sliced lengthwise into 2-inch long pieces, any tough woody core removed
- 1 large red onion, thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly grated black pepper to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon thyme, dry or fresh
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large bowl (enough room for all the vegetables) mix togther the cider vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss to combine.
- Line two large roasting pans or sturdy rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spread the root vegetables out over the pans in a single layer, with some space in between so that the vegetables don’t crowd each other too much and the hot oven air can circulate around the vegetables. (You’ll get better browning that way.) Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the root vegetables in the pans.
- Place vegetables in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the pans (and swapping bottom and top rack positions), half-way through the cooking. Cook until the vegetables are well browned and caramelized around the edges.
- Remove from oven and gently loosen the root vegetables from the foil with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with thyme. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Absolutely Delicious Baked Root Vegetables
We love this because of the added spices. If you want to change it up, add some other spices as well. We like creole seasonings!
Prep: 25 minutes | Total time: 65 minutes | Servings: Serves 6 to 8
- 1 pound new potatoes, halved
- 1/2 large rutabaga, peeled and cubed
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and cubed
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cubed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons sweet red chili sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Toss potatoes, rutabaga, sweet potato, parsnips, and carrots with olive oil and chili sauce in a large bowl until coated. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, grill seasoning, and pepper. Toss again until evenly coated, then spread vegetables into a 9×13 inch roasting pan.
- Roast vegetables in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then stir, return to oven, and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes more.
Beet, Orange and Apple Salad
Sometimes you need to have a great salad. We love beets, well simply because of the effects they have on us athletes. So when we found this gem, we thought why the heck not!
Prep: 20 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes | Servings: Serves 4
- 1 1/2 pounds beets
- 2 cups shredded beet greens
- 1 large orange
- 2 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted
- Wash and dry beet roots and greens. Shred greens to measure 2 cups and set aside.
- Place beets in a sauce pan with enough water to cover. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool.
- Trim and peel off skins; cut into 8 wedges.
- Peel and section orange. In a bowl, combine orange sections, beets and apples.
- Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic. Pour over beet mixture and toss well.
- Arrange 1/2 cup beet greens on 4 salad plates. Top with beet mixture, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve.
Who is Travis?
Travis is our “Chief Swarming Officer”, the head honcho, king bee, master of the swarm…okay, okay, okay you get the point. The man behind the curtain loves to get involved in every aspect of the company including finding great recipes. As a wrestling coach and an OCR athlete, he tries to eat a healthy lifestyle. Often distracted by a great pie and/or slice of pizza, he loves food almost as he loves traveling the country. When not running the HIVE, he participates in motorcycle riding, snow skiing, dirt bike riding, running and roller coasters! Want to see more of him or say hello? Get in touch with him below.
By: Travis Blythe