Know Your Root(s) Vegetables!!
Root vegetables are a dietary powerhouse for us because of their ability to hold dense concentration of nutrients like Vit C, B & A besides many other antioxidants
Winter is unimaginable without nature’s buried treasures which are available to us in the form of edible roots & tubers. Root vegetables grow underground at the base of a plant. Technically they are not all roots; some are bulbous growths that store nutrients to feed the plant in colder months. And that is the reason these root veggies are in their full glory from autumn to spring. One of my winter staples is a side dish of sautéed winter veggies with different seasonings.
Examples include bulbs (fennel, onions), corms (celery root, water chestnut), rhizomes (ginger, turmeric), tap roots (beets, carrots, turnips) and tubers (sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams). The bulbs, roots, and tubers absorb water and nutrients to feed the rest of the plant.
Root vegetables are a dietary powerhouse for us because of their ability to hold dense concentration of nutrients like Vit C, B & A besides many other antioxidants. Most root veggies are a rich source of magnesium and beta carotene, and anti-inflammatory nutrient that is also great for eyes, skin and hair alongwith fighting inflammatory conditions like heart disease, PCOD and Arthritis. Being a rich source of dietary fibre makes them an excellent choice for people trying to lose weight. The most common root veggies we have access to are :
Carrots : As the most versatile root, it can be had raw, cooked, juiced and even as a dessert. No winter feast is complete without the delectable Gajar ka halwa. The purple ones(even higher on antioxidants) are used to make a fermented probiotic called Kanji which is enjoyed as a traditional winter delicacy across all of north India.
Radish : A popular Chinese proverb goes as “When white radishes are season, doctors should take a break.” According to TCM, radish has long been considered a superfood in many Asian cultures because of its ability to re-balance the digestive system, boost the immune system, and gently cleanse the body.
Beetroot : Rich source of Betalaines(antioxidants) and Betaine, an amino acid that has powerful properties like improving body composition, fighting heart disease and promoting muscle gain. Apart from betaine, beets are a great source of fibre , and can help lower elevated blood pressure.
The starchy roots and tubers like potatoes, sweet potato, yam, cassava/ tapioca can help replace grains as a primary source of natural and unadulterated source of complex carbohydrates. They are naturally gluten-free, and can therefore be good food choices for people with autoimmune conditions. When taken as part of a well-balanced meal along with ample vegetables and sufficient protein, they can help balance the glycemic load of the meal.
It would be great to include at least 2 servings of root veggies daily, one as part of vegetables as a side-dish and one starchy one that can help you skip the staple grains/ cereal. And not to forget the fundamental principle of mindful eating, “variety”.
Selecting good root vegetables is the opposite of selecting good fruits – the harder, the better. They should be smooth and without gashes and bruises. If you are choosing the root veggies with the greens(like beets, radish), ensure that the stems and leaves of the greens are firm and bright.
They are best stored in a cool, dark, humid room. When storing them in the refrigerator, keep roots in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper. Storing them uncovered causes them to soften and go bad quickly.
Besides being part of meals, there are other roots too, that have magical and medicinal health-boosting properties. Like ...
Ginger : It is a warming herb effective against common cold, chills, fever, flu, headache and congestion. It is also a great digestive aid for treating an upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea and travel sickness.
Ashwagandha : Another wonder adaptogen root that helps relieve adrenal fatigue, counter stress and is an invigorant.
Maca Root : This Peruvian root is finding its way in the exotic food stores in India too. Available as a powder, it can help boost libido, relieve erectile dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and improve mood, energy and memory.
Licorice : Believed to have anti-inflammatory properties as per Chinese medicine. It’s specially helpful in treating cold and cough, female issues and gastrointestinal illnesses. It has also been found useful in leaky gut, adrenal fatigue and nausea.
It is always good to remember one’s roots (pun intended J) and eat them during winter season.
After all, improving one’s health and vitality is all about going back to the “ROOTS” !
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