Healthy Eating Heroes: Root Vegetable Sides to Try
Studies show that humans are hard-wired to consume more calories during colder months; combined with more hours spent indoors, this can add up to a few extra pounds. So, even though you may have been craving empty calories like refined carbs and sugar over the last few months, this is actually a great time to expect more from the things you put in your mouth, especially with summer around the corner! Root vegetables not only have satiating starch-like properties—they’re loaded with nutrients and can help you feel fuller, longer. Here are five simple sides to make any meal more satisfying.
1. Minty Cumin-Lime Carrots
Rich in beta carotene and host of other antioxidants, carrots have a natural sweetness that make them a family mealtime staple; this easy and flavorful preparation instantly transforms them into a sophisticated side with exotic Moroccan vibes. Start with a pound each of heirloom carrots and parsnips; cut on the diagonal into quarter-inch rounds. Toss with a half-cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons honey, 3 cloves sliced garlic and 2 tablespoons toasted cumin seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for 20 more. Sprinkle with two tablespoons each of fresh lime juice and chopped mint leaves and serve immediately.
2. Roasted Beets with Orange + Chèvre
Packed with fiber, potassium and immune-boosting Vitamin C, beets’ sweet, earthy flavors are the perfect complement to bright notes of citrus and the decadence of creamy chèvre in this ultra-easy dish. Place 8–10 large beets in a 9” x 13” pan and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil plus a dash of salt and pepper. Bake until tender at 400 degrees, about 40 minutes. While beets are baking, mix one cup creamy chèvre with the zest and juice of one orange. To serve, slice beets into quarter-inch medallions, layer and drizzle with dressing.
3. Mixed Root Veggies with Rosemary
This simple, family-sized recipe will ensure you’ve got healthy leftovers for days! Start with a pound each of peeled potato, sweet potato, rutabaga and a half-pound each of carrots and beets. Cut everything into one-inch pieces and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and a half-teaspoon of salt. Spread onto two baking sheets and roast at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, toss veggies and rotate pans, then bake for another 20 minutes, or until golden and tender. Add pepper to taste.
4. Slow-Cooker Balsamic Root Vegetables
Looking for a sweet-and-savory side that prepares itself while you’re at work? This slow-cooker superstar is perfect alongside pork tenderloin or just about any chicken dish. Start with a pound each of sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots; peel and chop into 1 ½-inch pieces. Coarsely chip two large red onions, then toss veggie mixture into a lightly greased, 6-quart slow cooker with ¾ cup dried cranberries. Whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon each light brown sugar and salt. Pour over veggie mixture, cover and cook on low for 6–8 hours, or until vegetables are tender. Top with fresh black pepper.
5. Amazing Leftovers Idea: Root Veggie Hummus
As delicious as all of these recipes are, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with leftovers you don’t want to gobble up as-is. But if you do—here’s a way to give them a new life that will keep in the fridge for up to another week: hummus. Start with two cups of roasted veggies from any of the recipes above. Add one cup of canned garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons tahini, a quarter-cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice of your choice, and one teaspoon minced garlic. Puree in food processor until smooth; add salt and cracked pepper to taste.
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