The heart and soul of plants, winter root veggies act like storage organs for the plants they support. They are packed full of energy and complex carbohydrates, as well as some protein, and are packed full of phytonutrients including antioxidants to fight free radicals in our bodies. Phytonutrients are related to the colour of the vegetable, the more intense the vegetables colour, the more phytonutrients it contains, just think of beetroots and carrots!
Some common root vegetables include potato, sweet potato, turnip, carrot, onion, radish, ginger, garlic, swede, turmeric, shallots, fennel, beets and parsnip. While potato tends to rate high on the glycaemic index (GI) scale, the majority are in the low to moderate category, however cooking tends to raise the GI of root vegetables more so if they are roasted or baked, but steaming is a better option and also consume raw where possible. Root veggies tend to be fairly low cost items and can keep up to 3 weeks in a perforated bag in the fridge, exceptions to this are radishes and turnips
which tend to keep for only 1 week and carrots for 2 weeks. When choosing root veggies, select roots that are fresh and firm and show no signs of withering.
Historically root vegetables were used wisely due to the ability to fill the stomach and help to balance energy levels. Today there are many chefs and home cooks that are inventing new ways to use the good old fashion veggies. I encourage you to try at least one that you haven't before.
Celeriac a is a great winter veggie, high in the soluble fibre that helps lower bad cholesterol. It is high in Vitamin K, folate, manganese and magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin C
Carrots are renowned for their role in the health of the eyes. This quality comes from the high content of natural Vitamin A or beta carotene which provides essential nutrients to the retina of the eye. Beta carotene also fights off free radicals in the body.
Radishes are an excellent source of Vitamin C, potassium, folate, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6 and dietary fibre and act as a liver tonic helping by purifying the blood. They can also treat congestion and hence upper respiratory infections.
Beetroot is a rich source of iron and also great for the heart as well as a liver tonic. They are rich in potassium, calcium, selenium, zinc, vitamin c, iron, manganese, magnesium, beta carotene and dietary fibre. They are nutrient rich yet low in calories.
Onion is loaded with anti allergy, anti bacterial and anti inflammatory agents, and another heart remedy. They are also great for fever and sinus infection.
Garlic possesses anti bacterial properties and is rich in antioxidants. It can lower blood pressure, aids in heart health and can keep infection at bay.
Ginger helps reduce pain and inflammation, as well as assisting with morning sickness, treats flu and colds and may lower cholesterol.
Turmeric can be used for wounds, skin problems, stomach problems, menstrual pains, cough, flu, cold, asthma. It is also a wonderful anti inflammatory and possesses anti bacterial and analgesic properties.
Turnips contain vitamin C, beta carotene and lots of fibre.
Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants and are beneficial for heart health.
One of the main nutrients that all root vegetables contain are complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are slowly digested by the body and help to keep you full for a longer period of time, and can promote stable blood sugar levels. All yellow, orange and red coloured vegetables contain beta carotene, which not only protect the body from free radical damage, but also strengthen the immune system, promote eye health, as well as healthy skin and strong hair.
Almost all root veggies also contain dietary fibre which is a type of complex carbohydrate. While our body cannot digest the fibre, it still aids out digestive health and helps to keep blood sugars even, promotes less cholesterol absorption and can aid in weight loss.