You don't have to wait for the spring farmers market to eat fresh produce again! These root vegetables are your go-to winter superfoods
Getting to the Root of Root Veggies
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If your plate was a crown, there's no doubt that veggies would represent its most precious jewels. They're responsible for reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers as well as helping manage your weight. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 8.9 percent of American adults eat enough vegetables.
In winter, when salads are not as inviting as a warm comfort-food meal, you can get to the root of this deficit by adding some root veggies to your diet. These winter superfoods grow underground and absorb nutrients from the soil. Don't be fooled by their rough exterior—root vegetables are some of the healthiest and most delicious foods around! So when the temperature drops, warm up with these produce picks to get a jump start on your daily veggie quota. (And stock up on these 22 Winter Foods for Weight Loss.)
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This brightly colored root vegetable is chock full of essential nutrients including folate, vitamin C, potassium, and iron, all of which help boost immunity, aid nerve and muscle function, and support natural detoxification. Beets also contain potent antioxidants called betalains, which have disease-fighting anti-inflammatory properties.
Try it: Fresh beets make a great addition to any salad, or make them the star of the plate by pairing slices with goat cheese and pine nuts. But be careful when handling raw beets. Unless you want your hands to match your pink sweater, you'll want to wear gloves to prevent stained fingers.
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Versatile and delicious, sweet potatoes and yams have a deep orange hue thanks to their rich amount of beta-carotene, which provide 214 percent daily value of vitamin A per cup. Vitamin A enhances eye health, boosts your immune system, and stimulates bone growth. Sweet potatoes even contain about as much potassium (vital for heart health) as a banana. At roughly 100 calories, one medium sweet potato also contains 4 grams fiber, 2 grams of protein, and zero fat. Sounds like a no-brainer!
Try it: Baked sweet potatoes make an excellent side dish, but you can even use them in your morning or post-workout smoothie.
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Maybe you've never tried rutabaga—or aren't even sure what it looks like—but now's the time! This turnip-cabbage hybrid contains a whopping 9 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and comes in at less than 150 calories for a medium size veggie. The stats alone are enough to send you to the store, but once you try it for yourself, you'll love its mild flavor that pairs perfectly with other roasted veggies.
Try it: You can roast rutabaga as you would potatoes, but they make a delicious alternative to greasy chips too. Slice it super thin, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake.
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Often thought of as carrots' white-hued cousin, parsnips contain a healthy amount of folate and vitamin C. They're rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber to help reduce blood cholesterol levels and prevent constipation.
Try it: You'll want to roast parsnips, as cooking brings out their sweetness. Brussels sprouts would make a great pair on your plate. (We'll get you started with six ways to add them to your dinner menu.)
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Fennel is related to parsley and dill, so get ready for a bright, refreshing, licorice-like flavor as an accompaniment to your winter recipes. Nutritionally, it contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory components, immune support from vitamin C, plus heart-healthy benefits stemming from its fiber and potassium. This nutrient-dense veggie also contains calcium and iron, and reduces that awful gassy feeling as it helps with bloat too.
Try it: Fennel can be eaten raw in a salad and roasted as a protein sidekick. Luckily, we've got 20 Fresh and Flavorful Fennel Recipes to make with this versatile veggie.
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Carrots also contain loads of vitamin A for healthy eyes, on top of fiber for good digestion. Plus, this crunchy veggie carries vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron, and potassium, all of which are important for fighting off germs during cold and flu season.
Try it: Carrots are so popular because they're tasty raw as a snack, and cooked as a side dish. Blended, carrots also make a great base for creamy soups without the, well, cream (like in this Spicy Curried Carrot Soup).
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You might not think of this sushi sidekick as a vegetable, but ginger is a powerhouse root veggie that's packed with medicinal qualities such as antimicrobial properties and anti-nausea benefits. Additionally, a chemical in ginger called Gingerol helps decrease inflammation and blocks nerve pathways that process pain.
Try it: Aside from steeping powdered ginger in your tea, you can add fresh ginger root to your vegetable stir-fry to give your plate some extra zing.
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Also known as celery root, celeriac is a strange-looking (seriously, Google it), lesser-known root vegetable that you probably walked right passed in the grocery store. With its high water-composition and low calorie content, celeriac makes for a great natural de-bloater.
Try it: This under-appreciated relative of celery has a fresh, herb-like flavor that lightens up many meals.