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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Fall is the perfect time to explore root vegetables! Root vegetables, just as their name suggests, grow underground and grow best in cooler temperatures (which is why they are abundant in the fall!). They are hardy plants whose roots are edible. Root vegetables mainly contain carbohydrates, which our bodies use for energy, and containverylittle protein or fat. Depending on the type, they can also have good amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, C and K and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. They are all good sources of fiber. Examples of root vegetables are carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, turnips, and rutabagas.
Some root vegetables that you may have never heard of are salsify, burdock, maca, cassava, and jimaca. Did you know that cassava is used to make tapioca? Therefore, if you've had tapioca, then you've tried the cassava root! Many of these unfamiliar root vegetables are popular outside of the United States.
Although sometimes people think they are the same thing, root vegetables are slightly different than tubers. Tubers are specialized root structures used by the plants to store water and nutrients, but they are not the same kind of root as a carrot or beet. Tubers are unique because they can create a new plant if the parent plant dies. Examples of tubers are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams. However, whether it's a root or a tuber, they are all great to eat!
Root vegetables will be cheaper in the fall. Because they grow underground, make sure to wash them thoroughly with cold water before use. You can store them (unwashed) in the refrigerator for several weeks. If not in the refrigerator, store them in a cool, dry place and use them within about 2-3 weeks.
Wishing you the best of health,
Extension Educator for Illinois Nutrition Education Programs
Roasted root vegetables
Yields: 4 servings
Source: Montana State University Extension Service
- 4 medium-sized root vegetables (choose your favorites from a variety – rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, beets…) (washed)
- 2 carrots (chopped)
- 1 onion (medium-sized, chopped)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
- Additional seasonings that you enjoy (ex: sage, parsley, marjoram…)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut vegetables into large chunks.
- Place in a medium bowl and pour oil over top. Add seasonings and Parmesan and mix well.
- Spread an even layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Check a few vegetables with a fork to see if they are tender.