Load up your plate with seasonal root vegetables

Load up your plate with seasonal root vegetables
Load up your plate with seasonal root vegetables

It may be winter but the root veggies on display at your local supermarket are in season and looking good.  Just because it’s not spring or summer, doesn’t mean produce choices suffer. Winter is the best time to eat more root vegetables bursting with valuable nutrients your body needs. 

But you may ask what exactly a “root vegetable” is? Root vegetables are just what they sound like. They are the root of a plant that is pulled from the ground and eaten as food. They often have a bad reputation because if cooked incorrectly, they may look and taste unappetizing. 

However, these nutrient-rich root veggies are densely packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants plus they are low in calories. Though other root vegetables are available throughout the year, winter brings more variety of root vegetables. 

Here are some winter root vegetables to look next time shopping for food and to put on your dinner plate tonight:

  • Beets

This magenta pink bulbous root vegetable not only gives a beautiful vibrant pop of color to your plate buy also makes a tasty glass of juice. Beets have some of the highest natural sugar levels of any veggie. They contain betacyanin, an antioxidant that may help fight certain cancers, as well as nitrate that can improve blood flow to aid in lowering blood pressure numbers. 

How to use: Broil cooked beets until charred, then chop and toss with garlic, chiles, and cilantro; serve with tortilla chips. 

  • Turnips

This pale white and purple root vegetable has a crispy flesh with a peppery zing and provides plenty of vitamin C. Eating foods rich in this water-soluble vitamin may help lower risk of a stroke. 

How to use: Cube and toss in soups or stews to add an extra dimension of taste and texture.

  • Brussels sprouts

Loaded with vitamin K, this root veggie has been found in studies to help lower the risk for certain types of heart disease.

How to use: Shred raw sprouts and use as you would cabbage in slaw recipes

  • Butternut squash

When you cut into this root veggie, the interior is a striking deep orange meaning it’s jam-packed with beta carotene, a pigment that is converted into vitamin A once in the body. Beta carotene is also a powerful antioxidant providing a boost to the immune system and is good for eyes and skin. 

How to use:  Cook until soft and then puree in a blender.  Add the pureed butternut squash to pancake batter and baked goods batter such as muffins or quick breads to add natural sweetness and moisture. 

  • Fennel

Fennel is an aromatic plant that can be used as a seed or an herb. Known for its bright burst of licorice-like flavor to dishes, fennel contains beta carotene and vitamin C, both important to collagen production and tissue repair. Fennel also contains good amounts of quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant that may lower the risk of some cancers. 

How to use: Toss thinly sliced raw fennel with orange sections, baby spinach, sliced red bell peppers and 1 tablespoon each extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. 

  • Rutabaga

Also known as a Swedish turnip, this root veggie is often said to be a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Although it has a strong, pungent flavor and an earthy smell, it tastes milder than a turnip when raw. When cooked it has a slight sweetness that’s combined with a peppery edge. Rutabagas are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and potassium. 

How to use: Shred raw rutabagas and make it into a fritter or they can be roasted by peeling and cubing a rutabaga; toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper; place ingredients on a baking sheet to roast at 425 degrees F until golden and soft, about 40 minutes. Then toss with ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar and chopped parsley. 

  • Radishes

Cute, crunchy, and peppery, radishes are easily available in the winter months. Their jewel-tone red color is a pretty addition to any dish and better yet, radishes are rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. Together, these nutrients help lower high blood pressure reducing the risk of heart disease. Radishes are also a good source of natural nitrates that improve blood flow. 

How to use: Best eaten raw, radishes can also be easily sliced into salads and sandwiches, or enjoyed whole and dipped into hummus for a healthy snack. 

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911. 

Load up your plate with seasonal root vegetables
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