Don’t overlook root vegetables! They’re amazing pieces of produce that live in the dirt and are loaded with nutrients and healing powers. I can’t tell you how many times I used to walk past root vegetables in the grocery store, not having a clue what they were or how to use them. But I can tell you that in the last 10+ years of learning about plant-based foods and their healing powers, it’s definitely worth your time to learn more about them too.
Here are my top 5 favorite root vegetables:
I’m putting this one at the top of my list because it’s a miracle food. Turmeric root has been around in recipes for thousands of years, but many people don’t fully understand the healing quality it has. Turmeric is known to be anti-inflammatory, meaning, it can reduce pain, inflammation or swelling in the body (great for those suffering from arthritis!). Turmeric is known to decrease the risk of certain cancers, detoxify the body, improve memory, help with blood sugar levels and kidney function.
You can sprinkle ground turmeric in just about any dish, but my favorite way to use it is to throw a chunk (yes, the whole root) into a morning smoothie. It gives it a slight earthly flavor, which I love. Use a little less if that flavor isn’t your thing!
Ginger root is probably one you’ve heard of and maybe even use often in your own kitchen. Have you tried the squeezable ginger in a tube? It’s such a handy way to add a zing of ginger to a dish, especially something like a stir fry. Ginger is known for many great things such as helping with intestinal issues, like gas. It’s also wonderful at relieving symptoms related to seasickness or motion sickness. It even helps with nauseousness when pregnant. Ginger root also helps prevent colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer and is similar to turmeric in that it has an anti-inflammatory affect on the body.
Add ginger to Asian dishes, zest it over a salad or, my favorite, try a chunk of it in a smoothie! I always say that adding ginger to a smoothie is like adding salt to a dish. It just brings the flavors out.
You’ve probably seen those shirts, Turn Up The Beet? (Just search on Amazon). Well, there’s something to it. Beets are good for the blood. They also help detoxify the body and help with inflammation (sounds like a common theme here). There are studies that show that beets have reduced cancerous tumor cell growth. Available in both red and yellow, I love to throw raw beets into my smoothies. If you’re using red beets, it turns the smoothie the most beautiful, vibrant color. My kids love beets in their salads, just slice them extra thin like sticks and sprinkle them on top. You could also steam beets and drizzle with olive oil or butter and add a dash of salt.
Oh the beloved garlic. Who doesn’t love the smell of garlic cooking? Did you know that garlic is not only anti-inflammatory, but it can help our cardiovascular system by keeping our blood pressure in check? Garlic is full of vitamins and minerals and is surely worthy of your time! Try squeezable garlic tubes (like the one I mentioned for ginger) for a very easy way to incorporate it into your diet. If you’re cooking with garlic, be sure to add it towards the end of the cooking process to maintain it’s flavor. The most delicious way to enjoy garlic is to take a whole bulb, trim off the tips, wrap it in foil and bake it in a 400F oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until it’s soft and browned. Once cooled to the touch, squeeze the sweet, roasted garlic paste out onto a piece of rustic bread or into a pasta dish. It’s seriously the most delicious thing ever!
5. SWEET POTATOES/YAMS
Offered by mother nature in purple, orange or white inside, sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, antioxidant power and tons of Vitamin A. There are so many ways to prepare sweet potatoes. Try mashing them like regular potatoes or slicing and baking to form sweet potato fries. I love roasting them and adding Earth Balance butter, nutmeg and cinnamon for a rich flavor. But my family’s very favorite way to eat a sweet potato is to bake a white sweet potato, sometimes referred to as an Asian Sweet Potato, and once baked, mash the insides with miso paste, a touch of Earth Balance and a few chopped fresh green onions.
What’s your favorite root veggie? Do you have a favorite recipe to share? I’d love to hear about it. Post a comment below!
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