Here in the UK we LOVE potatoes. They’re the most well-known and well-loved root vegetable by far and generally we all eat a lot of them: mashed, roasted, baked and – surprise, surprise – in their most popular form: chips!
White potatoes are a source of essential micronutrients and can definitely have a part to play within a healthy diet. However, we could all benefit from mixing things up a little as the wonderful world of root vegetables stretches far beyond the humble potato. Not only will changing it up make your meals a bit more interesting, it will also mean you’re mixing up the nutrients you’re putting into your body. So, with this in mind, I thought I’d talk you through a few of Jamie’s favourite root vegetables and hopefully, these delicious recipes (and their fab nutritional properties) might tempt you into trying something new.
Beetroot often crops up in Jamie’s recipes, and their amazing, vibrant colour means they really do look beautiful on a plate. One of the most predominant micronutrients in beetroot is folic acid, a vitamin our bodies use for many different things including metabolic function, blood formation and also immune function. Folic acid is also super-important in pregnancy. Just one large beetroot will provide you with half the recommended amount of folic acid you need in a day. Beetroot is a very versatile ingredient – grated raw into a salad or a wrap is a great way to eat them – but they are just as delicious roasted, and they even work to add extra depth to a chocolate cake if you’re looking for a weekend treat.
Celeriac is a lovely root veg that can easily be used in place of mashed potatoes, cooked down to thicken (and flavour) a soup, or cubed and lightly cooked next to meat in a roast. It can even be roasted whole for a brilliant veggie centrepiece. Similarly to beetroot, celeriac is a source of folic acid as well as vitamin C, thiamin and potassium; a mineral we need to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Parsnips and carrots are a popular roast-veg pairing, especially around Christmas time, and when eaten together they provide a great nutrient boost. Parsnips are a source of five different micronutrients, including vitamin C and potassium, and they are especially high in folic acid. Carrots are a source of beta carotene, one of the two different versions of vitamin A, which we need to keep our skin healthy and also for good vision: just think about the old saying that carrots help you to see in the dark! Apart from roasting, these vegetables both make delicious soups, and, of course, there’s always the hugely popular carrot cake if you fancy a treat.
SWEDE & SQUASH
Swede and butternut squash also contain vitamin A, as well as being great sources of Vitamin C – the nutrient our body uses for loads of different functions, including helping to keep our teeth and gums healthy. Butternut squash is also packed with vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant and helps to protect our cells. Both of these veggies can be used as an alternative to mashed potato, or in stews and soups. Squash is also brilliant when cut up into wedges, roasted, and tossed through a salad; and also as a veggie curry option.
The sweet potato just seems to be growing and growing in popularity. Anything you can do with a plain old white potato, you can do with a sweet potato – swap it in for a new take on chips, use it to top pies, super-charge your plain old jacket spud, mix up your mash… get creative! I talk about the health benefits of sweet potatoes in more detail here.
Although we all love the mighty potato, there is so much more to explore in the world of root veg, click below for more inspiration.