Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are versatile, filling, and economical. They are low in calories—anywhere from 9 (radishes) to 60 (parsnips and taro) calories in one-half cup—except for yuca, which is calorie-dense. They’re fair to good sources of fiber and a variety of nutrients. Turnips, radishes, and rutabagas are cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli. (Potatoes and onions are not technically roots.) Most root veggies taste better when small; large ones may be tough or starchy. The deeper the color, the more nutritious.

  •  Beets. Have the most sugar, but still only 35 calories in one-half cup.
  • Carrots. Great source of beta carotene.
  • Parsnips. Relatives of the carrot (without beta carotene); a fair source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium.
  • Radishes. Not outstanding nutrition­ally, but a source of vitamin C and phytochemicals. Low-calorie snack.
  • Turnips. Wide range of shapes and sizes. Good puréed, mashed with potatoes, or added to stews and soups.
  • Rutabagas. Sometimes called yellow turnips; the best source of vitamin C
  • of all root veggies.
  • Jícama. Sweet, crisp, and juicy. Good source of vitamin C and potassium. Eat it raw in salads or cook it in a stir-fry.
  • Taro. Tastes like a cross between chestnuts and potatoes. Contains some potassium and iron. Add to stews, or else stir-fry, boil, or purée for soups.
  • Yuca (cassava). Highest in calories, 160 per half cup. Contains vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and iron. Boil and serve with a sauce, or add to stews.
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