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Root Vegetables: Everything You Should Know About These Hearty, Healthy Eats

A woman with long hair cutting carrots and other root vegetables on a cutting board
Root vegetables are a healthy, hearty option available throughout the year.

‘Tis the season for simmering soups, celebratory holiday meals and bites that make you want to cozy up inside, where it’s warm. That’s right, friends — this time of year is all about the root vegetables. (In fact, December is Root Vegetable Month!)

At your Food Town, we think the more you know about a particular ingredient, the more fun it is to incorporate it into family meals. That’s why we’re going back to basics on these vegetable options that don’t just taste great, but pack a ton of health benefits, too. Read on for awesome insight into everything from what a root vegetable is, to what makes them so great and the best ways to make them a regular part of family meals.

What Are Root Vegetables?
Before we dig into the benefits of (and best ways to cook) these earthy eats, it’s important to have a general idea of the foods we’re covering. So, what are root vegetables? They’re veggies grown underground — or those whose roots we eat.

Unlike vegetables such as peas, lettuce and asparagus, which sprout where all the world can see, for root vegetables, the magic happens beneath the soil. Although some leaves will appear aboveground, underneath is where the roots take hold and the vegetable itself develops. And a surprising number of vegetables grow in this manner. Here’s a list of root vegetables you probably know (and hopefully love):

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turnips
Root vegetables don’t just taste good. They’re cost effective and nutritious too.

What Benefits Do Root Vegetables Offer?
In addition to their obvious selling point — the fact that they serve as a tasty addition to family meals — there are all sorts of reasons to incorporate root vegetables into your regular menu lineup. Here are a few of our faves.

  • Easy Availability: Certain root vegetables, such as carrots, can be grown year-round. Not only does this mean they’re more than likely always available at your neighborhood grocery, but it means they’ll be a cost-effective purchase, too! (And we’re all about saving a little money.) Even outside of traditional growing seasons, modern-day farming and distribution methods make it simple for grocers to keep produce bins packed with these primo eats every month of the year.
  • Nice and Nutritious: Like most veggie options out there, root vegetables provide the nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy and energized for the day ahead. Beets and radishes, for instance, are low in calories and help lower cholesterol. Carrots, meanwhile, are good for your eyes and skin, and come packed with vitamin A. And sweet potatoes? They’re a great source of potassium and can help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Although it’s true that looks aren’t everything, it’s also true that we eat with our eyes. Root vegetables can be a great way to incorporate interesting colors into bakes, stews and other meals that might otherwise remain more or less monotone.

Food Town Tip: Interested in learning more about which root vegetables are in season at a particular time of year? The U.S. Department of Agriculture website offers a handy produce guide!

Cooked root vegetables sitting in a pan, surrounded by raw ones.
Incorporate your favorite root vegetables into everything from soups and stews to pizzas and veggie trays.

How to Get Cookin’: Inspiration for Root Vegetable Recipes
You know what they are and what makes them something special — but how do you go about cooking root vegetables? We’ve got good news on that front, neighbor. These veggies are incredibly versatile! Here are some of the best ways to incorporate these ingredients into your menu.

  • Cook Up a Pot of Soup or Stew: There’s a reason soups and stews are a cold weather staple. They’re a great way to get warm, they’re packed with healthy ingredients and they’re easy to customize, based on the veggies you have available. A tasty vegetable soup will place carrots, potatoes and onions in the spotlight, for instance, while still allowing ample room for veggies such as okra or beans, or even stew beef, if you’d like to amp up the protein. Chicken pot pie soup is another yummy option that allows for easy customization, depending on what you prefer.
  • Make them the Star of the Show in Vegetarian Dishes: There’s no rule that says your family’s main course has to contain meat. You can find all sorts of filling, flavorful options that go the vegetable route. Veggie enchiladas, for instance, combine onions, yams and other fresh ingredients for a healthier take on a Tex-Mex go-to. Grilled pizzas are another great option, giving you some wiggle room to play around with family-favorite flavors. Go all in with one big pie to share, or pare things down to individual pizzas people can customize with onions, potatoes and other fun flavor combos.
  • Display Them in All Their Veggie Glory: Not every root vegetable recipe has to go super in-depth. Some of the best eats out there are the ones that require minimal cutting and prep work. A fresh vegetable tray served up with a dipping sauce or two makes for an easy appetizer you don’t have to feel bad about indulging in! Marinated kabobs are another delish dish that doesn’t require much prep work, allows the root vegetable to shine — and can be easily customized to suit every family member’s taste. Another great option? A big sheet pan bake. Cut up your favorite seasonal produce, add in some sausage if desired, then top things off with a drizzle of oil and sprinkle of seasonings. The end result is sure to be great.

We hope this blog helped shine a bit of light on the many reasons we love root vegetables — and inspired you to try a new recipe or two. Remember, your Food Town takes pride in keeping our produce sections stocked with root vegetable favorites (and other fresh finds) all throughout the year. Stop by and see us soon!

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