FEATURE — Did you know that roots provide plants with nourishment? Veggies do the same thing for our bodies. This time of year, fresh, homegrown veggies are harder to come by. Don’t despair! Add root vegetables to your meals.

Stock image | Photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

Most root veggies are in season year-round, but they peak during the winter months. You might be thinking, “What in the world is a root vegetable?” Root veggies grow underground beneath the base of the plant. Sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, onions and potatoes are all root vegetables.

Root veggies are low in calories and high in antioxidants and other nutrients. For example, carrots are packed with vitamin A, while a russet potato provides more potassium than a medium-sized banana. (Don’t skip the banana, though!) Most root veggies are also a starch.

MyPlate tells us to vary our veggies. Vegetables are broken down into four subgroups: dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and starchy vegetables. Each of these subgroups provides our bodies with different nutrients.

Varying your veggies by including some of each type during the week will help you maximize your nutrients. When starchy veggies are on the menu, try cooking root veggies in different ways:

Roast them with your favorite seasonings.

Roasted root veggies.
Oven-roasted fall and winter veggies.
Salt and vinegar roasted potatoes.

Make them into chips.

Root veggie chips.

Put them in soup.

Black bean and sweet potato soup.
Potato leek soup.

Mash them.

Mashed root vegetables.
Best-ever mashed sweet potatoes.

Add them to a salad.

Beet and apple salad.
Beet and parsley salad.

Make them into muffins.

Carrot oat muffins.

Make them into fries.

Sweet potato fries.

Season them with a glaze.

Glazed root veggies with lemon and honey.
Brown sugar glazed beets.

Make them into ribbons.

Carrot ribbons.

Eat the greens.

The term root veggies implies that you only eat the root. Don’t forget about the greens! The greens grow above ground and can be added to many recipes. Try them steamed, sautéed or fresh in a salad.

Once you’ve shopped for root veggies at the grocery store, give winter root and sausage soup a try. Click here to view the recipe.

The recipe calls for a bunch of different root veggies. If you don’t have what’s listed in the ingredients, substitute with something else. Turnips and rutabaga would be a tasty addition. If you don’t have smoked sausage, try another type of protein. Ground beef, ground turkey and shredded chicken will all work well. Cook them before you add them to the soup, and adjust seasonings if needed. Enjoy!

This article originally appeared on Sept. 22, 2022, on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

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