As the cold winter months approach, it can be harder to find fresh and local produce. Most of the growing season ends with the first frost. You can still find some of the healthiest vegetables year-round, but eating a little seasonal can be both more economical and more nutritious for your health. The winter months are a perfect time to embrace root vegetables.
These types of vegetables grow underground and tend to persist during the colder months and are harvested during the fall and winter seasons. They are the edible root of the plant, which means that they store vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for the plant, making them very nutritious. Finally, since most root vegetables are somewhat starchy and rich in complex carbohydrates, they can be cooked into comforting, satisfying hot dishes on cool days. Expand your palate this winter with the healthy winter root vegetables introduced below.
It makes sense to start our list with the tried and tested, humble potato. That said, potatoes are technically tubers – not a root vegetable – but they are commonly lumpy because of their resemblance. Tubers such as potatoes and sweet potatoes are formed at the base of a root and store nutrients for the plant.
Although potatoes are sometimes demonized by proponents of low-carb diets, these arguably maligned spurs are actually quite nutritious as they store nutrients for the plant. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. They also contain antioxidants and can help lower blood sugar. Extremely versatile, potato recipes are easy to bake, cook or steam and are enjoyed whole, pureed or mashed, in soups or stews or transformed into crispy chips in an airfryer.
Sweet potatoes are delicious, nutritious tubers filled with vitamin A and beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects eye health, promotes skin health and reduces oxidative damage. They also contain a lot of fiber and B vitamins and are very filling. Due to their natural sweetness, sweet potatoes can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, ranging from hearty stews to holiday pies. Sweet potatoes go well with warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg as well as salty spices such as sage and cumin.
We all know carrots well, and their sweetness goes well with a variety of dishes. Carrots are often part of the base of soups and stews, but can also be toasted and glazed and enjoyed whole, eaten raw in salads or grated and added to muffins or slaws.
Carrots have a low calorie content and contain many fiber and micronutrients, including vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. In fact, a cup of raw carrots provides over four times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Carrots are also a rich source of vitamin K, B vitamins and potassium.
Although they share a common name, Jerusalem artichokes are actually not the same as artichokes. Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes, are one of the richest sources of prebiotic fiber, which is indigestible fiber, such as inulin, which feeds the healthy gut bacteria. Jerusalem artichokes are delicious in stews and soups and give a slightly sweet, earthy taste. They can also be peeled, roasted and mashed like potatoes. Another fun use is to cut them into thin slices, season them with salt and olive oil and bake them into crispy chips.
Celeriac tuber, also called celery root, is not actually the root of the celery plant, but is a root vegetable. It gets its name because of its light celery flavor. Although not necessarily the most beautiful vegetable, celeriac is a healthy source of vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins and fiber. It satisfies and can help digestion. Most people like to add celeriac to stews or soups, but it can also be steamed and mashed.
There are several different colors and varieties of beets, but they are all deliciously sweet and crispy, with earthy notes and can be enjoyed peeled and raw, cooked or pickled. Beetroot goes well with goat cheese and herbs, salads, balsamic vinegar and other acids and other root vegetables.
Beets are rich in antioxidants such as beta lain, which reduce inflammation and help detoxify the body. They also contain folate, vitamin C, potassium and fiber, making them as healthy as they are sweet.
Parsnips look like carrots, but have a crispier, more fibrous texture and a more nutty taste. They taste deliciously roasted or chopped and cooked into stews and soups, giving a slightly cinnamon-like flavor. The average parsnip provides a third of your daily vitamin C needs and a quarter of every folate and fiber. Parsnips are also an excellent source of vital minerals, such as copper, phosphorus, manganese, potassium and magnesium.
Rutabagas is a large root vegetable that is somewhat turnip-like. They are actually related to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and provide many of the same nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Rutabagas have less bitter bites than turnips, so they can be more versatile in winter recipes. They go well with onions, thyme, butter, sage and meats like sausage or bacon.