The Ugly Ducklings
Root vegetables are nutrient-dense vegetables, full of flavor and health benefits. Their appearance may scare some away, since they often have tough and unattractive coverings that exude a mysterious aura. In a market of beautiful fruits and vegetables, I think of them as the “ugly ducklings” because many avoid them because of their less appealing appearance. But never mind, with some peeling and some simple preparation, they can transform into delicious eats and become a dietary staple. Here are some reasons to incorporate them in to your diet:
1. Root vegetables grow underground absorb nutrients from the earth and are a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, B vitamins and iron.
2. They are a source slow-burning carbohydrates and fiber, which help to regulate blood sugar. They are optimal carbohydrate sources for diabetics and pre-diabetics. Additionally, they are filling and low in calories.
3. They peak in fall, winter and spring, so are a great to eat in the winter months, when fresh, local vegetables are more scarce.
4. They come in a several varieties with different flavors, textures and colors. They are versatile in the kitchen.
5. They are relatively inexpensive.
6. They are simple to store and simple to prepare. They can be eaten raw, roasted, sautéed, grilled or steamed. When roasted at higher temperature, the sugars caramelize and are particularly good!
Common root vegetables includes beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, yucca, ginger, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onion and garlic. Each has its own flavors and characteristics and are fun to try.
Simple method of roasting root vegetables
- Wash and peel vegetables. Pat dry. You can select a variety of vegetables, but I recommend trying red potatoes, onion, rutabaga, garlic, parsnips, carrots, and/or turnips as a start in any combination. Beets are fine as well. but red beets will stain the other. I usually leave skin on red potatoes. Ginger, horseradish and some other vegetables have strong flavors which are wonderful for other dishes, but may be overpowering for roasting with the other vegetables.
- Cut vegetables into 1 inch cubes or 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch strips.
- Toss in olive oil and kosher salt. Olive oil should lightly coat vegetables and be as evenly distributed as possible.
- Place in roasting pan and bake at 425 degrees for about 50-60 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and sugars in vegetables have caramelized, giving them a golden glow. You may toss vegetables to mix and turn at about midway, or about at 20 minutes.
- Serve in bowl and add fresh ground pepper and top with parsley, dill or thyme.
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