By Chef Centehua:
Knowing your roots is empowering. Knowing how to prepare your roots is a delicious way to stay healthy. “Root” means any underground part of a plant. Root vegetables such as beet, carrot, yam, potato, tuber, ginger, rutabaga, onion, celery root, garlic, shallot, radish, fennel, daikon radish, burdock, Jerusalem artichoke, etc., store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They are mineral rich and delicious.
Ginger is one root I use almost daily. It’s a great digestive aid and a great remedy for colds and headaches. I usually slice off a 4-inch piece of ginger and make an after dinner tea. In the morning I add it to my green juice.
Another root, turmeric is one of the most popular used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a staple in Indian cuisine not only for its earthy taste and color but also for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibiotic and antibacterial properties. You can buy the root and juice it or buy a good Turmeric powder and add it to soups, dips, rice, tea, etc.
Other incredibly medicinal root vegetables are onions and garlic. Nature’s antibiotics, they add amazing flavor to any dish. They also contain anti-inflammatory properties. Onions have shown to increase bone density.
Yams are one of my favorite comfort foods. There are over 200 varieties, and all are great sources for potassium and vitamin B6. During the winter months, I enjoy yams for breakfast. There’s just something so right about waking up and warming the kitchen with oven baked yams. Simply perfect just as they are. I add a little coconut oil, salt, pepper — and voila!
Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A, assisting the retina by protecting it from muscular degeneration. Carrots are just so good. And they’re easy to eat or juice.
Beets are probably my favorite all-time root. There are gorgeous varieties such as Chioggia beets, golden beets and Detroit dark red. I usually juice my beets or eat them warm, roasted with turnips and garlic. Beets contain unique phytonutrients called betalains, which support detoxification. Studies have also shown that betalains decrease tumor cells’ growth.
It’s a good idea to look for heirloom varieties of roots (and all foods, for that matter). Heirloom foods contain a higher nutritional content and are that much more flavorful.
Here are some easy and delicious recipes for root vegetables:
- 3 Tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. Turmeric root
- 1/2 onion
- 7 carrots
- 1/2 celery root
- 5-inch piece of ginger
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 potatoes
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
- 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
- 1/4 C. parsley
- 4-5 C. spring water
- 2 tsp. Himalayan salt (adjust as needed)
In a large pot, heat oil and add garlic, onion, ginger and Turmeric. Stir-fry on medium low heat until onion is soft and transparent. Add water, bring to a boil, and add remaining ingredients except for herbs. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until carrots are soft. Place soup in blender and add herbs. Blend until smooth, adjust salt, and serve with parsley garnish.
- 3 golden beets
- 2 Chioggia beets
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 3 parsnips
- 2 carrots
- 5 small purple potatoes
- 1 fennel bulb
Pre-heat oven to 425 F.
Put peeled beets into a pot of boiling water for 5 min., just to soften but not totally cook. Strain and chop into cubes. Using a ceramic baking dish, add remaining cubed ingredients to beets. Drizzle 4 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and basil. Roast for 20-40 minutes. Check periodically.
Spicy Raw Root Salad
- 1 celery root (peeled)
- 1 golden beet (peeled)
- 2 carrots (scrubbed)
- 5 radishes
- 1 jicama (peeled)
- 1 small shallot (finely chopped)
- 1 bunch cilantro (finely chopped)
- 1 chili (Serrano or jalapeño) finely chopped
- 1/3 C. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 orange (juiced)
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 1 Tbsp. raw honey
- 2 tsp. Himalayan salt
In a large bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, salt, chili, shallot, cilantro, honey, orange and lemon juice. Using the large side of a grater, grate celery root, carrots, beet, radishes and jicama. Combine grated vegetables with marinade in a bowl and mix well. Let stand 30 minutes or, if you just can’t wait, eat right away.
Check out my blog for more root recipes-