Last week, I walked into the kitchen to see a lovely array of root vegetables sitting on the counter. My husband had just come from picking up our Local Organic Bag from Grand River Organics, a local organization that offers fresh, local, and organic food bags and boxes each week in our area.
Included in last week’s delivery were the beautiful root vegetables you see in the picture: turnips, rutabaga, and beets.
I have to admit, if they weren’t included in our bag, we probably would not have gone out of our way to eat turnips and rutabagas. But after discovering that they taste great as root vegetable fries, we love them! And of course, you can’t beet (ahem, I mean beat) the health benefits of these root vegetables!
Turnips and Rutabagas – Cruciferous Veggie Powerhouses
Turnips and rutabagas are both rich in vitamins A and C, folic acid, manganese, potassium, and fiber, making them nutrient powerhouses.
Rutabagas, which are sweeter than turnips, are an 18th century invention – a cross between the turnip and cabbage.
I recently read that turnips and rutabagas have 20 chromosomes in common, while rutabagas have an additional 18 that come from cabbage. Now that’s just neat!
These two veggies are cruciferous vegetables, in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy, collard greens, arugula and radishes.
Cruciferous vegetables are especially well known for their cancer-protective properties due to powerful phytochemicals that protect DNA from damage from carcinogens and help to control healthy estrogen metabolism in both men and women.
Scientific studies have found that the phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables can be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of breast, colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
Low in calories and high in fiber, the health benefits of these two veggies speak for themselves. They can be enjoyed diced and steamed or roasted, or pureed and added to soups.
Beets – Liver Detox and Tumour Shrinking Power
Beets are another winter superfood. High in vitamin C, folic acid, manganese, potassium, and fiber, these root vegetables also contain anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.
Beets are especially useful to support Phase II liver detoxification, where toxic metabolites created during Phase I detoxification are converted into harmless forms to be excreted from the body.
Lab studies with human tumour cells have found that betanin, a pigment in beets, can reduce tumour size in colon, breast, stomach, nerve, lung, prostate, and testicular cancers.
Beets can be enjoyed grated raw on a salad, or chopped and steamed or roasted. The health-promoting compounds in beets are destroyed by excessive heat. To keep them healthy and active, cooking should be limited to less than 1 hour when roasting, or less than 15 minutes when steaming.
Healthy and Simple Root Vegetable Fries
Here’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy my root vegetables:
- Wash and peel rutabaga, turnip, and beets.
- Chop into 1/4-1/2 inch strips and place in bowl.
- Toss with avocado or olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake at 400°C until tender (approx. 30-45 minutes)
- Enjoy as a nutrient-rich delicious snack or as a side dish to your healthy meal
While turnips, rutabagas, and beets may not be first on your list of foods to eat, taking advantage of their seasonal availability not only supports sustainable farming practices, but will also provide your body with an abundance of nutrients and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
Let us know your favorite ways to enjoy root vegetables by commenting in our blog below!
1. Difference Between Turnip and Rutabaga. DifferenceBetween.net . Retrieved January 17, 2013. From http://www.differencebetween.net/object/difference-between-turnip-and-rutabaga/.References:
2. Mateljan, George. Eating Healthy With Cruciferous Vegetables. WHFoods.org. Retrieved January 17, 2013. From http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=263
3. Mateljan, George. Beets. WHFoods.org. Retrieved January 17, 2013. From http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49