Root Vegetables Bristol RI
East Greenwich, RI
Affordable, readily available and packed with nutrients and fiber, root vegetables
We humans have always been good at figuring out how to stay alive when times were tough. Many ancient cultures found salvation in hard times by cultivating tuberous roots, which helped save them from famine and sustained them during colder months. Some 4,000 years ago, root vegetables were important currency for travelers of the Silk Road (a trade route connecting Asia with the Mediterranean, northeast Africa and Europe), and were critical staples in areas where rice cultivation was impossible, according to Laura Kelley, author of the newly published The Silk Road Gourmet (I Universe).
But root vegetables are more than just sustenance. As the “storage bin” for a plant’s nutrients, they are health-promoting powerhouses. “Although each root vegetable has its own nutritional makeup, as a group they are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, potassium and antioxidants,” says Kelly Morrow, MS, RD, a nutrition clinic coordinator at Bastyr University Center for Natural Health in Seattle. “In fact, potatoes are among the highest in potassium of any fruit or vegetable commonly eaten in this country, while orange root vegetables are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A.”
Throw in a surprisingly vibrant range of colors, oft-discarded greens with nutrition and taste to rival the roots and nearly limitless culinary uses, and it becomes clear that each of these root vegetables is a buried treasure waiting to be unearthed and enjoyed.
Kitchen Notes: With the highest levels of beta-carotene and minerals located just under the skin’s surface, unpeeled carrots will yield the most nutrition. Store them away from apples and pears, which release gases that can cause carrots to become bitter.
Varieties: Carrot varieties literally range from A to Z (Akaroa Long Red to Zino). While we’re most familiar with bright orange carrots, wild carrots feature colors from pale tan to deep purple.
Kitchen Notes: Boiling cause nutrient loss, so steam beets in their skins. Raw beets have a crunchy texture that becomes soft and buttery when they are cooked. Beet greens are often discarded, but they too contain abundant nutrients and rich flavor.