Root Vegetables: Healthy, Flavorful and Versatile

    Root vegetables have been a delicious part of healthy eating of many cultures and cuisines for a long time. Home cooks continue to explore all the varieties and wonderful flavors, while enjoying these nutrient-rich tubers.

    The good thing is the good underneath

    When we think of root vegetables, we often think of potatoes, parsnips or carrots. But there are so many additional tasty choices including radishes, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac, fennel, jicama and beetroot.

    Root vegetables not only bring strong and robust flavors to your table, but they are also budget friendly!

    They are extremely versatile and can be prepared in multiple ways – sautéed, roasted, fried, baked, and even raw. Available year-round, root vegetables are the power plants of the vegetable world. 

    Knobbly superheroes for the health

    Generally, all roots are very healthy and contain fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron in addition to dietary fiber. For example, all radish varieties contain pungent-tasting mustard oils that are anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Carrots store beta-carotene, which is important for the production of vitamin A in the body.  A Jerusalem artichoke contains inulin, which is beneficial for diabetics. And, the red dye from beetroot has an antioxidant effect and protects cells from damaging environmental influences.

    Root vegetables can be prepared in such a versatile way

    Root vegetables can be prepared in numerous ways.  Carrots and celeriac can be boiled with leek and fresh parsley for a vibrantly flavorful vegetable broth.

    Oven roasting helps to develop sweetness and earthy aroma. Red or yellow beets, carrots, turnips and parsnips, can be salted and tossed in a bit of oil, then roasted into delicious vegetable fries. Or, slice thinly to deep-fry or dehydrate, transforming them into crispy chips for snacking or dipping. Root vegetables are tasty when slightly caramelized in a pan, resulting in a dish that is crispy, sweet and surprisingly different.

    Pickled, braised, baked or raw? Roots can do everything!

    The inconspicuous tuber of the Jerusalem artichoke is increasingly used in restaurants, where it adds a sweet taste to salads or soup.

    Root vegetables are also a perfect choice for fermenting, to be used as a garnish or a snack. Carrots, sugar beets or parsnips are ideal for canning, preserving them for adding to dishes all year-round. 

    Picture 1: © fortyforks / istock