In Seattle this year, we are keeping an autumnal secret. September 23 may have been the first day of fall but it was 80 degrees! There is no denying that the season is about to turn, and marching in with it will come a whole new fresh cadre of underground vegetables. I get excited thinking about these new ingredients, and there are many fine reasons to store up on their goodness.
As it gets colder and temperatures begin to snap, the vegetables that grow above ground begin to wither on the vine. This is the time when the vegetables that have been living in the dirt surface are the freshest. There are multitudes of interesting lumpy, bumpy, knobs of nutrition that we can all enjoy. The list is long but includes many well-known favorites as well as others that are lesser known: sweet potatoes, turnips and carrots are down with celeriac, sunchoke and taro root. The vegetables that we dig for are taking their nutrition directly from the rich soil. The big bonus is that they basically contain no fat and are low in calories. Protein is often high and thankfully they cost less and store very well. They are the support system or “root” for the entire plant above the ground, and they store a tremendous amount of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients.
This family of vegetables provides an important compound that seems to offer cancer protection by stimulating enzymes that deactivate carcinogens.
For example, “radishes, rutabagas and turnips are classified as cruciferous vegetables along with broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. This family of vegetables provides an important compound that seems to offer cancer protection by stimulating enzymes that deactivate carcinogens. Jicamas, rutabagas and celeriac (celery root) are all good sources of vitamin C; parsnips and rutabagas are high in potassium, which helps control blood pressure; and all these root vegetables supply dietary fiber.” (See www.elements4health.com.)
“Compared to people who eat only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts — as part of a healthy diet — are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases. These diseases include stroke, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and perhaps heart disease.” (See www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.)
The root of the problem is that we don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in our diet. So exactly how many fruits and vegetables would constitute “generous amounts,” my inquiring mind wanted to know. I went further into the dot gov website to find out. A couple of clicks and, presto, I found that I need one and a half cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables. Wow! I better get going on that. It’s a new fall season with new produce and new recipes. Enjoy experimenting and be sure to dig in to those root vegetables.