Rooting For Health

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As unappealing as they may look, root vegetables actually pack a chockfull of health benefits. Find out what they can do for you!

The term ‘root vegetables’ hardly sounds appealing since an impression of that would literally be vegetables that grow like the roots of a plant – underground, in thick murky layers of soil.

That is true, except that the roots of the plants are consumed as vegetables.
Root vegetables grow underground, where the roots are. They absorb the most minerals and nutrients from the soil as they have to nourish the rest of the plant.

As a result, the nutrient content there is more, and so health benefits from eating root vegetables are aplenty.

Health Benefits
In general, root vegetables pack a chockfull of nutrients, phytonutrients and anti-oxidants which are essential for our bodies.

Phytonutrients are essentially plant nutrients attained from the organic components of plants and have health promoting properties. The more intense the colour of the vegetable, the more phytonutrients it contains. Some examples of these are beetroots and carrots.

Root vegetables are also a source of complex carbohydrates which are essential for us as they break down the sugar in our bodies and give us energy to function properly.

Like all fruit and vegetables, root vegetables are also good anti-oxidants. Ginger, garlic and onions have been known to clear the system and kill bacteria in our bodies – and they are also root vegetables.

In fact, ginger and ginseng have been known to contain medical benefits and have been used as cure for certain ailments like rheumatism. Even lesser known roots like fennel have medicinal benefits such as aiding in digestion.

The best part of root vegetables is that they are low in fat and calories which make them the perfect foods to eat for vegetarians or those dieting. The person is still able to get protein and other vitamins that the body requires.

Here are some popular root vegetables and their benefits:

Ginger
Ginger has been known to aid digestion as well as help treat arthritis, nausea and heart conditions.

Onion
The outer layers of the onion may seem dirty and blackened from the soil – therefore the most unappealing portion of it. But did you know that they contain the most antibacterial benefits?

They also have been anti-inflammatory properties.

Garlic
The smell might be the only thing bad about garlic but other than that, it is a pretty beneficial root vegetable that can treat high blood pressure, infections and high cholesterol.

Carrot
Besides making your eyesight better, they also promote lung health.
Beta-carotene is present in carrots – also giving it its intense orange colour – and is broken down by the body and provides nutrients to the retina.

Beetroot
They’re known to have a rather unique taste that some might not be able to take, but they pack a good amount of nutrients in them. They have detox properties and can even limit cell growth in tumors.

These root vegetables are easily available and don’t cost a lot, so there is no reason not to include them in your diets. Try some of these easy recipes for a different way of appreciating these root vegetables:

Vegetable Chips
Vegetable chips can be made with root vegetables like carrots, potatoes and beetroots.

Peel the vegetables and slice them as thinly as possible. You can use a mandolin for this, as it will produce finer and more consistent slices which are important when you fry the chips.

Rinse the vegetables and dry them.

Heat some oil in a pan, and fry the vegetables. Be careful not to let the slices overlap – so you will have to do this bit by bit.

When the vegetable gradually starts to brown around the edges, remove them from the pan and lay them onto a piece of paper towels atop a cooling rack to soak up remaining oil.

This is optional, but you can sprinkle over some salt while the chips are warm. Cool and serve.


Sweet Potato and Carrot Mash
How about a sweet alternative to your regular mashed potato?

In a pot, combine some sweet potatoes and carrots – depending on how much you intend to make – and enough water to cover the potatoes. Allow the water to boil and check occasionally that the sweet potatoes are soft. (A tip is to poke a knife into the potato, and if they slip off the knife, then they are ready to be mashed).

Remove the sweet potatoes and carrots from the hot water and gently peel and cut them into smaller pieces.

In a large bowl, put together the sweet potatoes, carrots, some butter, milk and salt and mash and mix to the desired consistency.

After which, add some pepper and chives for a good flavour at the end.


Grilled Vegetables
For an easy, fuss-free way of enjoying your root vegetables. This style also produces great tasting greens as a side to any meat dish.

Slice your vegetables, perhaps of around a centimetre thick, and lay them onto your oven grill.

Brush over liberally with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and other herbs like dried basil leaves.

Grill for 10 minutes on each side, or until they are grill-marked. Allow the vegetables to cool and then serve.

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