Remembering Roots

By Lisa Moes

Farmer at Farmageddon Growers' Collective

Produce Keeper & Collective Manager at People's Food Co-op

 

The Dutch word gezellig has no direct English translation. Mostly it is an indescribable feeling of well being and a sense of ultimate coziness. My Dutch ancestry, my roots, are calling out to me right now, and this season is the height of gezellig for me. Tank tops are being replaced by sweaters, another blanket is going on the bed and hearty root veggies are taking the place of light summer salads. I am gravitating towards all things cozy.   

Often overlooked and under appreciated, root vegetables seem dull and unappealing. But if you have ever sliced a chiogga beet to reveal the amazing burst of pink and white candy cane stripes, smelled the tantalizing aroma of freshly cut celeriac or tasted the rejuvenating power of red beet juice, you know roots have so much more to offer.

Our produce department stocks a variety of organic roots to fortify and get you through the cooler season ahead. We are fortunate to receive weekly farm-direct root deliveries from amazing growers like Wobbly Cart, Groundwork Organics, Gathering Together Farm, Northwest Organics, and Our Table Co-op.

Below is a list of root veggies with nutrition facts and recipe suggestions. Since I eat all my food raw, I’ve included no-cook ideas to show how versatile and flavorful roots can be. By adding nutritious and tasty roots to your meals, my you find your own version of gezellig for the coming months!

Beets absorb minerals directly from the soil, making them rich in nutrition when grown organically. They are high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorus. And save the beet tops! They are good sources of Vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Preparation: Beets can be boiled and served with vinegar or lemon, or they can be made into the well know soup borscht. I enjoy beets sliced thin and pickled with apple cider vinegar. A mix of red, chiogga and golden beets shredded with cabbage and carrots, tossed with ginger tahini dressing makes a filling winter salad. Juice them for a quick nutritious power on their own or add apple and carrot for sweetness.  Use chiogga beet slices to make raw ravioli circles and fill with a variety of nut cheeses, spreads and veggies.

Turnips are high in Vitamin C, and have a stronger, peppery flavor than rutabagas.  Turnips contain beta carotene and turnip greens are rich in Vitamin A.

Preparation: Rutabagas and turnips are similar and can be used in recipes together. Both are good roasted or mashed with potatoes. I enjoy raw turnips and rutabagas when ground into small pieces and used like rice.

Celeriac, sometimes called celery root, is still a bit unknown to a lot of people. Containing Vitamin C, essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium and copper, celeriac is an important part of the winter diet.

Preparation: Celeriac adds flavor to soups, stews and is nice mashed as a side dish. Enjoy as a more filling version of celery or make a raw version of potato salad using peeled and diced celeriac instead of potatoes.

Radishes are a good source of Vitamin C and are also naturally low in calories.

Preparation: Radishes are not usually cooked, however black radishes lend themselves to roasting quite well. Other than eating them fresh, radishes are wonderful pickled or fermented. Daikon and watermelon radishes are two of my favorites to include in kim chi, and ground horseradish makes for a spicy condiment to help clear any stuffy sinuses.

Carrots, a staple root, are known for beta-carotene which converts to Vitamin A, essential for healthy eyes and good bone and tooth formation.

Preparation: Carrots are often added to stews, roasted with potatoes or other roots, or made into muffins or cakes. Raw carrots are always an easy snack. I add carrots when I make kim chi for depth and sweetness. I also make a raw carrot ginger soup that is especially warming this time of year.

Burdock is high in potassium, B6, magnesium as well as a good amount of calcium, phosphorous, iron and copper. Burdock also contains the beneficial fiber called inulin, which promotes the growth of helpful bacteria in the large intestine, thus improving the immune system. This is especially important during the cold and flu season. 

Preparation: Peel and slice burdock and add to stir fries, soups and salads. Make into a healthful tea. I enjoy adding burdock to various raw meals, either shredded or chopped. And since it contains Vitamin B6, which regulates mood, burdock is helpful when the days may seem a little too dark and gloomy.

Parsnips need cold weather to convert the starch in the root to sugar, so they are at their best when the temperature drops. Like many root veggies, they contain a variety of essential minerals.

Preparation:  Use in soups, cut into cubes and puree for an added bit of sweetness. Roast or mash with other roots. My favorite parsnip recipe is to make them into chips - I slice them thin, toss with a little olive oil and salt and dehydrate until crisp. Yum!

When in doubt - roast 'em! Cut veggies into similar sized pieces 1-2 inches, drizzle with olive oil, toss with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  Share with loved ones.  Co-op Tip! Leftover roasted root veggies transform splendidly into breakfast hash or burrito filling. 

When in doubt - roast 'em! Cut veggies into similar sized pieces 1-2 inches, drizzle with olive oil, toss with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  Share with loved ones. 

Co-op Tip! Leftover roasted root veggies transform splendidly into breakfast hash or burrito filling.