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Root Vegetables Are Not Your Garden-Variety Veggies

January 15, 2017

From the Winter 2017 issue of AtlanticView:

With winter here, odds are that you’ve seen root vegetables pop up more and more at your local grocery store or market. After all, they are hard to miss – root vegetables are not exactly the most visually appealing. Consumers who get past their looks, however, will be rewarded with a hefty nutrient profile.

“Although they can be ugly, these vegetables are full of nutrition and can be used in a variety of ways – they’re very versatile,” says Mary Finckenor, registered dietitian for Morristown Medical Center. “And their flavors change depending on how you cook them. They could become sweeter or more savory.”

A Wealth of Possibilities

Carrots and potatoes are some of the more common root vegetables, but Finckenor notes that other ones like beets, turnips and rutabagas deserve the spotlight as well. “They are all rich in vitamins, and you can get really creative in recipes,” she says. “You can roast them, grill them, make them into a puree … there’s so much you can do.”

According to Sabrina Lombardi, clinical nutrition coordinator of Food and Nutrition Services for Newton Medical Center, one of the big benefits of root vegetables is bulk. Root vegetables can contain a lot of fiber, which helps with satiety.

“Because of their bulk, they can fill you up fast,” Lombardi says. “This can help you avoid overeating and curb unhealthy snacking.”

Handle with Care

Since these vegetables can look rough around the edges, picking out the best ones at your local vendor might not seem like an easy feat. Rest assured, though, that the methods you use for checking other vegetables apply here.

“You want to make sure they’re free of any bruises or soft spots and avoid anything that is shriveled up,” says Jane DeWitt, registered dietitian for Hackettstown Medical Center. Root vegetables are also easy to store, according to DeWitt. They have a longer shelf life than their peers. Storing them in a cool, dark space, such as a bag, and not leaving them out on a counter is a good idea.

“Under the right conditions, they can last you months,” she says. “They’re great vegetables.”