Conscious Cook: Root of all goodness

“There is music in the meadows, in the air — Autumn is here.” — William Stanley Braithwaite

Growing sweet and strong all summer long, root vegetables reach their peak of perfection in autumn. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy seasonal beauties, such as creamy white parsnips, sturdy red and golden beets, crisp orange, yellow, purple or cream colored carrots, red, brown or ivory potatoes, terracotta colored sweet potatoes and yams, as well as purple tinged turnips and rutabagas.

A vital autumn ingredient, root vegetables provide succulent flavor and high fiber content, while the natural sugars may satisfy or diminish cravings for less healthy processed or packaged foods.

From their lumpy, bumpy and earthy looking humble beginnings, root vegetables can be transformed into beautifully smooth, silken purees, crisp cubes for a heavenly autumn hash, or roasted to succulent perfection. Root vegetables make stunning soups, and can be baked into tasty tea breads, or luscious cakes heady with the spicy scents of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Low calorie, fiber rich, root vegetables offer a host of healthy benefits. Carrots are one of the most potent sources of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that may help destroy free radicals in the body. Roasting carrots will make them more easily digestible.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent choice for a slow release of carbohydrates that will keep you full and satisfied longer. These delectable, dark orange beauties are a prime source of vitamin E, potassium and iron.

Fiber rich parsnips can help promote easier elimination and their sugar content provides a natural energy boost. Thinly sliced parsnip slices roasted in the oven to crisp crunchiness are a spectacular autumn snack.

Root vegetables, with their significant amounts of vitamin C, combined with beta carotene, can assist the body with blood cleansing and potentially prevent high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Prepare a delicious life with root vegetables and savor their wealth of nutrients.

Root Vegetable Roast

Serves 6-8

(cut all vegetables into same size chunks for even cooking)

10 good sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunks

8 baby turnips, peeled and cut into chunks

6-8 potatoes (any variety), peeled and cut into chunks

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

2 large beets, peeled and cut into chunks

2 large sweet onions, peeled and cut into chunks

2 heads of unpeeled garlic, cloves separated

4 sprigs each of fresh thyme, rosemary and oregano

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

smoked Spanish paprika of cayenne pepper (optional)

grapeseed oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Place all vegetables and herbs in pan. Drizzle with oil and toss until vegetables are well coated. Season with salt, pepper and paprika or cayenne pepper. Roast for approximately 45 minutes, stirring every so often, until vegetables are golden and a bit crispy.

For more information on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, The Conscious Cook, go to www.theconsciouscook.net.