Root vegetables have long been given the cold shoulder because they taste earthy and bitter. Not anymore. Beets, parsnips, artichokes, sweet potatoes and many more roots and tubers grace modern-day mains thanks to their adaptable flavours and wholesome properties.
Ayurveda and macrobiotics maintain that the way a food grows can affect us greatly. Going by that logic, root veggies — strongly embedded in the soil — are believed to keep us well grounded. They are healing and balancing for the body in a state of stress. “Root veggies were the primary diets of hermits and yogis in ancient times. We often read about how rishis and munis of yesteryear lived on kanda-moola (roots/tubers) and phala (fruits),” says Aarti Gaur, an Ayurveda expert. She adds, “Since these vegetables grow close to the earth, they predominantly carry the properties of earth. They are dense and fulfilling.”
All root vegetables are naturally gluten-free so they fit new-age diets with ease. “The modern trend of going grain-free, gluten-free or raw vegan has probably popularised root vegetables even more, as they are abundant sources of starches, (low) carbs, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, . they tend to be lower in calories, have a lower glycaemic index load, and cause less digestive or inflammatory issues than many grains do. So they work brilliantly for the growing population of people trying to lose weight or simply stay fit,” says Manjari Chandra, therapeutic nutritionist.
How to cook and store
Root vegetables can be consumed raw but because they are hard and have an earthy flavour, they are most palatable when cooked. Steaming or boiling roots is a great way of prepping them in order to mash or puree them — any root can be blended into a creamy root soup. “Baking vegetables with skins intact minimises the contact with air, therefore reducing the loss of nutrients. Bake beets, make a creamy potato soup, braise carrots and parsnips and roast or bake rutabagas,” says Chandra.
Sweet potatoes: Eat them to get your dose of vitamin A, potassium, vitamin B5 and vitamin C, in addition to fibre. Even though they’re ‘sweet’, they’re actually lower on the glycaemic index than regular white potatoes, and help stabilise blood sugar better.