Root veggies are making a comeback as “clean carbohydrates”. They satisfy our need for energy, while providing an alternative to the dizzying array of refined carbs. Because root veggies are rich in fiber, they help fight hunger and stabilize blood sugar, preventing late night cravings. And of course, they’re free of gluten!
This blend of parsnips, carrots, fennel, onion and yellow potatoes adds a range of flavors, colors, textures and nutrients to your meal. Try something new: use fennel and parsnips, even if you have never eaten them before!
Fennel is that quirky vegetable that looks like a hybrid of a white onion that’s sprouting celery stalks with feathery green fronds on top. Its very slight anise/licorice flavor is wonderful when roasted golden brown. Just slice it thinly, cut out the thick core at the base and layer at the bottom of the pan with the other veggies on top. It will bake into golden-brown deliciousness!
Fennel is rich in phytoestrogens, natural plant compounds that fit into our estrogen receptors and block “xeno-estrogens” (environmental toxins that mimic estrogen) from exerting their toxic effect. Long regarded a “digestive tonic”, fennel oil/tea has been used to calm colic and soothe indigestion. For more on fennel, click here.
Parsnips add a slightly sweet, nutty flavor with a “bit of a bite” to meals. They’re rich in potassium, vitamin C and folic acid. Rutabagas and turnips could work instead, though they’re both moister than parsnips. My Grandmother would roast parsnips with chicken, onions, carrots and potatoes for Sunday dinner, adding an amazing aroma to her kitchen. For more info on parsnips, click here.
Carrots bring sweetness to this dish, along with their brightly colored orange, red and yellow pigments. They’re packed with beta-carotene (or pro-vitamin A), a powerful antioxidant. The darker red varieties have high levels of anthocyanins, a set of purplish, blue-pigmented antioxidants that stabilize blood vessel walls, enhance vitamin C levels and collagen formation. For more info on carrots, click here.
Red onions offer a sweet but pungent flavor, rich texture and key nutrients to virtually every cuisine. Like garlic, they contain allicin, which works as an antioxidant that supports our detox systems. Research is demonstrating that onions can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
In fact, studies have shown that those with the highest intake of onions had the lowest incidence of several forms of cancer. So include onions in your diet to help reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. And a recent meta-analysis has confirmed that onions help insulin to lower blood sugar levels, thus reducing the risk of diabetes. For more on the healing powers of onions, click here.
Finally, Yukon Gold potatoes round out this dish. I love their yellow dense flesh, but if you’re avoiding potatoes, yams would be a good substitute. Unlike regular Russet potatoes, these potatoes slow the release of insulin and stabilize blood sugar.
Give all these root veggies a bath in fine extra-virgin olive oil, tossed with garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and roast until golden brown for a solid side dish or excellent addition to any holiday meal.