For many of us, sitting around a dinner table topped with traditional dishes is what brings our family and friends together during the holiday season. While the laughter and storytelling is something to which we can look forward, many of us experience the dreaded ‘stuffed-to-the-brim’ sensation. Although we can moderate this feeling by eating more intently, the variety of foods we use in our dishes also makes a difference in the way we feel after a meal.
Many traditional holiday dishes include a lot of meat, bread, and dairy products. While each of these food groups offer benefits significant to proper bodily functioning, it’s important to balance them out with some nutrient dense vegetables. Luckily, fall happens to be the perfect season to get your hands on some of the most vitamin-packed and fibrous (yet filling) veggies out there: root vegetables! Though these vegetables are available year-round, fall is their season, which means they will be sweeter and juicier during this time of the year¹. Not to mention, eating vegetables that are in season also means that 1) the food often doesn’t travel as far from the farm to your local market, and 2) they’ll be less expensive than usual, because crops in season are more abundant². Some common root vegetables include potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, ginger, parsnips, rutabagas, yams, jicama, yuca roots, and kohlrabi³.
Why are these vegetables classified as ‘root’ veggies if all vegetables need roots to grow? What distinguishes root veggies from other vegetables, such as tomatoes or squash, is their meaty, fleshy, underground root, which is the nutritious portion of the plant that we eat. Often, root vegetables are only visible by their leafy greens above ground, while the more recognizable part of the plant is growing underneath the soil.
To some, it might sound gross that we eat something originally covered in dirt, but we also don’t give dirt the credit that it often deserves. Soil is full of essential nutrients that help plants grow strong and healthy. Because the edible portion of a root vegetable grows within the soil, it more readily absorbs its surrounding nutrients. This is why root vegetables are such rich sources of potassium, Vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and especially fiber⁴. That last nutrient is particularly important when attempting to avoid the ‘stuffed’ feeling during the holidays – so stock up on some fibrous root vegetables this season to make for happier, healthier tummies!
Below are three root vegetable recipes to get your creative cooking juices flowing this fall and winter season. You don’t have to be an experienced chef to make these dishes either, and each recipe is suitable as both a stand alone meal or side dish. Happy feasting!
Marinated Beet Salad
This ‘salad’ is so simple to make yet rich in taste due to its delicious, light marinade. Beets are jam-packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (yes, please!) Not to mention, beets are incredibly filling and free of trans and saturated fats⁵.
This recipe was created by the wonderful lifestyle YouTuber Sarah Nagel of ‘HolisticHabits’. Follow this link to watch her video for this dish (skip to 0:45 for the recipe) and to get numerous other delicious, healthy food ideas.
Serving Size: 1
Time: 30 – 40 minutes
1. 2 – 3 beets (2 – 3 beets will suffice as a dish for one person; multiply by number of people if cooking for more)
2. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3. Sea salt
5. Fresh dill
1. Wash beets thoroughly and dice them into bite-size pieces.
2. Put beets in steamer for about 10 minutes. If you don’t have one, you can bake them in the oven till they are tender when prodded with a fork.
3. Rinse fresh dill and chop.
4. Transfer beets to dish when finished cooking. Add in some sea salt and pepper to taste, then stir to distribute.
5. Add about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and fresh dill, then stir.
6. Let the dish marinate for about 20 minutes before serving.
Thai-Inspired Carrot Soup
This vegan and gluten-free, Thai-inspired carrot and peanut butter soup is a great lunch option when you’re on the go as well as a delicious starter for a big holiday dinner. Like beets, carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is great for the skin, and they also contain a lot of potassium, which help keep sodium levels in check, thereby decreasing blood pressure levels⁶. If you never fancied these orange veggies, this recipe just might make you change your mind.
This recipe was shared on the Minimalist Baker, a blog that offers a plethora of quick and healthy recipes anyone can master.
Time: 30 minutes
Serving Size: 4
1. 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2. 3 cloves garlic, diced
3. 1 pound carrots, scrubbed (or peeled) and chopped (~4 cups)
4. Salt and Pepper
5. 2 cups Veggie Stock + 2 cups water
6. 1/3 cup creamy or crunchy salted natural peanut butter (use less for a less intense PB flavor)
7. 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (use less for less spice)
8. Toppings: Fresh basil, cilantro, or mint; coconut milk; brown sugar or agave nectar (sub honey if not vegan); Sriracha hot sauce
9. Coconut or olive oil for sauteing
1. Heat a large pot over medium heat.
2. Dice onion and garlic. Add to pot with 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil (or nonstick spray). Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Season with a healthy pinch each salt and pepper, then add veggie stock and 2 cups of water and stir.
4. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender (test by cutting a larger piece of carrot in half – it should cut with ease).
5. Transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth and creamy. (Cover with a towel in case your lid leaks any soup while blending.)
6. Add peanut butter and chili garlic sauce to the blender and blend to combine, using a ‘puree’ or ‘liquify’ setting if you have it.
7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a touch of added sweetness, add a Tbsp or so of brown sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar (or honey if not vegan). Add more chili garlic sauce for more heat.
8. Serve immediately with fresh basil or herbs of choice. A drizzle of coconut milk will add a creamy, sweet touch. Serve with sriracha for extra heat.
Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
This recipe for stuffed potato ‘boats’ is incredibly nutritious, filling, and, admittedly, very cute. Sweet potatoes are packed with tons of Vitamin C as well as fiber, beta carotene, Vitamin E, potassium, iron, and folate⁷. Wow, now that’s quite the superfood! Speaking of, this recipe also includes superfoods quinoa and kale – the latter is also a seasonal fall food – so you can’t get much healthier than this dish. The potato takes a while to bake, but preparation is relatively easy. Serve this as lunch or go big and make it the main course for a holiday get together. Make sure to save the extra potato that you carve out to make room for the stuffing. Use a melon baller to make easy bite-sized pieces that can be steamed or sautéed for another meal!
This recipe was shared by Leslie’s Durso on her plant-based food and lifestyle blog. She is a vegan chef based in southern California that has so much fascinating information to share.
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes cooking time, 15 – 20 minutes prep time
Serving Size: 8
1. 4 sweet potatoes
2. 1 cup quinoa
3. 2 cups vegetable broth
4. 1 tbsp. butter substitute like Earth Balance
5. 1 tbsp. olive oil
6. 2 cups kale, broken into 8-in. pieces
7. ½ toasted slivered almonds
8. ¼ cup (plus) dried cranberries
9. Salt and pepper
1. Bake the sweet potatoes in a 350 degree oven for 1 hours or until fork tender. While they are cooking, make your filling.
2. Cook the quinoa in the vegetable broth.
3. And while that is cooking, sauté the onion in the butter and olive oil with a pinch of salt until soft.
4. Add in the kale, almonds, and cranberries and sauté until the kale is soft, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the finished quinoa to the frying pan and mix together.