~ By Michael Dwyer
Who’s interested in eating healthy? Right, lots of hands just went up (even if it was just in your head). One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is to maintain a balanced, fresh-food diet. That includes adding as great a variety of foods as possible. For some, it may be time to bust out of your comfort zone and begin adding some foods that are new and unfamiliar. Be fearless and let this be your call to experiment with new foods. And why not begin with root vegetables?
While many of the root vegetables you’re familiar with – potatoes, onions, beets and turnips, to name a few – are highly nutritious (all root vegetables contain healthful fiber and slow-digesting carbohydrates) and important to so many tasty dishes, how about trying some root vegetables that are a bit outside the mainstream?
Your search should begin right here on the South Shore. There’s always a fresh and robust variety of root vegetables at the Fruit Center Marketplace. The Fruit Center’s locations in Milton and Hingham consistently stock a wide variety of root vegetables, both familiar and unfamiliar.
There are several overlooked root vegetables that deserve our attention. They may not be the most popular items on the produce shelf or the most beautiful. But these roots will add both unique flavors and valuable nutrition to your diet.
Certainly one of the more versatile roots on this list, ginger root is frequently associated with medicinal benefits. Among its attributes, ginger is used as a remedy for travel sickness, chills and flu and has also been linked to reducing the affects of arthritis, headaches and lowering blood-pressure. Add minced ginger to veggie stir-frys or combine ginger with tamari, olive oil and garlic to make a simple salad dressing.
With a mild flavor that’s like a cross between an apple and a potato, Jicama is a South American root that’s great for adding a bit of crunchy texture to fruit salads and salsas. It is low in sodium, high in potassium and an excellent source of vitamin C. Jicama can also be steamed, baked, boiled or added to stir-frys.
Also called celeriac, celery root not surprisingly has a celery-like flavor. Celery root is high in fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6 and may help to reduce high blood pressure. Boiled and mashed, celery root is a nice alternative to mashed potatoes. It can be braised, sautéed or baked. Also try grating or shredding it raw into salads.
This is by far the boldest flavored root of this bunch. Best used freshly grated when raw, horseradish’s bold flavors can be preserved by adding it to dishes at the end of cooking. To make fresh homemade horseradish sauce, chop the root in a food processor and add white vinegar and salt to taste. Horseradish is high in fiber and vitamin C.
With a sweet, nutty flavor, sunchokes are a good substitute for water chestnuts and almonds. Fresh-chop sunchokes into salads, dips, salsas, chutneys or light marinades. When cooked, mix sunchokes in with soups, grilled poultry, fish or sauces.
Sunchoke and Mushroom Sauté
2 pounds assorted mushrooms such as chanterelle, porcini, portabella, morel, shiitake, or common white and brown
1/2 pound sunchokes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup dry sherry
Salt and pepper
Brush off any soil caked onto mushrooms. Trim and discard discolored stem ends and tough stems of shiitakes. Quickly immerse the mushrooms in water, swishing them around to release any soil, then lift from water and drain. Cut large mushrooms into about 1-inch pieces; leave the small mushrooms whole. Peel and coarsely chop sunchokes. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, combine oil, butter, mushrooms, sunchokes, shallots, and garlic. Stir often until mushroom juices evaporate and the vegetables are browned, about 15 minutes. Add rosemary, oregano, and sherry; stir until sherry evaporates, about 2 minutes. Spoon vegetables into a serving dish. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe courtesy of myrecipes.com
Strawberry, Mango, Jicama Salad
2 cups sliced strawberries1 cup chopped mango1 cup chopped jicama1/4 cup chopped cilantro3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries, mango, and jicama. Add in the cilantro and lime juice. Stir until well combined. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Recipe courtesy of twopeasandtheirpod.com