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Written by Michal Yaron

When we think of root vegetables, we often think of potatoes, but potatoes are very high in starch that is rapidly turned into sugar in the body. As a matter of fact, one medium baked potato contains 33 grams of net carbs, which is almost all of your daily allowance for carbohydrates during a weight loss phase.

Several root vegetables, such as jicama, celery root, turnip or rutabagas, are much lower in carbs and can easily be substituted for potatoes. (Other vegetables such as cauliflower can also be substituted, for an even lower carb count). 

Check the table below for info carbohydrates counts of various root vegetables.

(GREEN = lower carb root vegetables / RED = higher carb root vegetables)

Root Vegetables – for Better and for Worse

Five cooking techniques with roots vegetables:

1. Braising – Root vegetables become tender and deeply flavored when cooked slowly in a bit of liquid. You can cook one kind or a mixture of root vegetables for a hearty dish. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add oil and cubed root vegetables, sprinkle with salt, and pour in 1/2 to 1 cup broth. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Add fresh herbs at the end for a bit of fresh flavor.

2. Grilling – An open flame will give root vegetables a crusty exterior and a tender inside. Brush thick slices with a bit of oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook on a medium-hot grill until grill-marked and tender, about 10 minutes per side.

3. Mash – Parsnips, turnips, and celery root are delicious mashed. Best is to steam or boil them whole, with the skin (you can use pressure cooker to shorten cooking time). When soft, peel the skin and mash as you’d do with potatoes. Season with salt & pepper, add broth or nonfat milk. Instead of butter, you can use Lite Laughing Cow cheese for extra creaminess.

4. Roasting – Roasting brings out the essential sweetness in root vegetables and creates a crispy brown exterior. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces and toss with a bit of olive oil. Put in a roasting or baking pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper, chopped herbs, or spices. Roast in a hot oven (375°F to 425°F) until vegetables are tender and browned, about 30 minutes, turning over midway.

5. Soups & stews – Root vegetables add flavor, nutrition, and bulk to soups and stews. When cut into bite-size pieces, they take about 20 minutes to become tender when boiled, so add them towards end of cooking time to avoid mushy vegetables.

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