Root Vegetables: Beyond the Soil

Root Vegetables: Beyond the Soil

There is a rich history of Americans eating roots in abundance. In fact, root vegetables are the fortifying foods that this nation was built upon, but with the advent of convenience foods these sustaining staples have fallen out of sight and quickly out of mind.

Beyond the Soil

A plant’s roots draw water and minerals from the soil to nourish and sustain its leaves. They regulate water and mineral movement and keep crucial fluids flowing. Roots store energy collected by the leaves, slowly releasing it to fuel growth, activity and reproduction for plants. During a long, cold winter, the underground portion of a plant stores vital energy after the leaves die back, allowing the plant to regenerate in the spring.

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Roots are most abundant during the cooler months of the year as that is the time when their sugar concentration is higher, making them extremely delicious as well as excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. There are so many attributes that make roots good eats! Roots firm themselves deep into the earth, drawing the nutrients from the bountiful soil while their greens are hard at work taking nutrients from the sun. Roots anchor us in the wintertime by providing a plethora of nutrients to keep us healthy through the cooler months.

In the winter time we want to slow down, be still, more thoughtful, pensive and eating from the robust root family helps support that grounding downward inward energy. If we want our feet firmly planted on this green planet, we must reconnect with the primal energy of Mother Earth. What better time to do this reconnecting than the autumn and winter, when leaves have fallen, when we have celebrated yet another harvest and are preparing for the deep cool white winter to settle in.

Beyond the Surface

What do root vegetables and our middle organs and reproductive system have in common? They are all located deep beyond the surface. Roots are deep in the soil of the earth, and our organs deep within our core, or what yoga teachings refer to as the “root and navel center.” Beets, for example, are lovely, deep red, antioxidant-rich roots, robust in shape and flavor and resemble a womb in shape. The beta-carotene in beets may help maintain a vigorous reproductive system in women. The corpus luteum (develops in an ovary following ovulation) has the highest concentration of beta-carotene than any other organ.1 Beets are also recommended for women experiencing irregular menses.

Take a Look at Your Roots!

Root vegetables provide carbohydrates, minerals (such as potassium), vitamins, fiber and plant chemicals (phytonutrients), which are known to be health promoting and anti-aging.

Root vegetables are highly nutritious and good sources of fiber, which can increase feelings of satiety, aid weight loss and keep you regular, ridding you of that winter bloat. Add root vegetables to your meals for a mix of vibrant colors, textures, nutrients, and flavors to meals. One or two daily doses of roots may decrease your desire for sweets, helping to regulate your blood sugar levels, provided that you pair them with ample protein and beneficial fats.

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Depending on where you live, the harvest times will surely vary; however, most roots are amenable to year-round use. Be sure to try some root-based recipes – for a few yummy ways to celebrate the season and reconnect with your roots.

Image: Skånska Matupplevelser


1Hass, E. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition

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Latham Thomas is a graduate of Columbia University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has earned a degree in Visual Arts and Environmental Science. Latham is a certified holistic health counselor, who mixes her passions of plant physiology, botany, holistic nutrition, fitness, yoga, and organic green cuisine into a lifestyle program that supports the various needs of her clients. She is the founder of Tender Shoots Wellness, a boutique lifestyle company that supports women during childbearing years. Latham is also the co-founder of Panela Productions, a company that educates parents and children about food, through cooking classes and events. Latham currently teaches plant-based culinary classes at Whole Foods Market and Natural Kitchen Cooking School. She also gives lectures on plant based nutrition and teaches prenatal and vinyasa yoga.