How many of you recognize the root cellar depicted below? That cold-weather storage area actually looks just like the well-used root cellar in my parents’ house.
As our ancestors knew in the days before refrigeration, hardy, storable root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and so forth make for delicious, warming, winter foods — and as an added bonus, they have tremendous value for bone health. They are highly alkalizing and packed with important bone-building nutrients, and as an extra benefit, root veggies can satisfy our sweet tooth if cooked at length.
Root vegetables: plentiful and versatile
At a time of year when field-fresh, organic vegetables may be harder to find in cold northern latitudes, you can almost always count on roots being readily available.
In our Better Bones Better Body Program, we suggest everyone consume at least one root vegetable daily in summer and perhaps two in winter. Root vegetables can easily substitute for bread, pasta, and grains in supplying carbohydrates for energy, yet their high potassium content means they help alkalize the body, unlike acid-forming grains.
I enjoy most root crops, but my favorite is the potato — maybe because of my Irish grandmother, who ate her own “home fried” potatoes every morning, or perhaps because one large baked potato eaten with skin offers a whopping 1626 grams of potassium!
Winter root crops pack a lot of bone-building nutrients
Potassium isn’t all roots have to offer. The table below details the amount of various key bone-building nutrients found in popular root crops. We have standardized these to 100 g of each of vegetable (just so you know, a large baked potato weighs about 229 g).
An easy root vegetable recipe to savor
While I love baked potatoes all year around, one of my favorite winter recipes is roasted root vegetables. I use a number of different roots together with onion, some olive oil, and seasoning. Maybe you want to try out the recipe below; I’d love to hear of your personal warming winter root vegetable recipes.
Roasted Root Vegetables
This dish is so versatile that I have actually eaten it for breakfast alongside cooked quinoa and a poached egg. It is a great addition to almost any meal.
6 large cloves of garlic, whole
5 medium-sized parsnips, diced into 1-inch cubes
4 medium-sized potatoes, unpeeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
2 large sweet potatoes, unpeeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, sliced lengthwise
1 medium-size butternut squash, diced into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup light olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Optional herbs: parsley, oregano, or rosemary
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat two 9 × 13 inch baking dishes with vegetable oil and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine garlic, parsnips, potatoes, onions, squash, and olive oil. Toss well.
- Add sea salt (and any herbs you desire) to the vegetables and toss again.
- Transfer the vegetables to the prepared baking dishes, spreading them out in a single layer.
- Roast the vegetables for 35 minutes or until lightly browned and fork tender, and serve.
Yields 8 servings.
Timesaver tip: The first time you make this dish, cut up more than you need of everything except the onions and freeze the extra in a gallon-size freezer bag. Then the next time you want it, all you have to do is thaw it, cut the onions, season, and bake!