If you like beets, you may want to try beet greens. This recipe features both parts of the plant. The greens are mild in flavor like spinach and Swiss chard, while the beets have a sweet, earthy flavor. This dish is a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, folate, beta carotene, and betacyanins (the pigment that gives beets their purple color). If you can’t get fresh beets, use canned or vacuum-packed (they retain their full flavor); you can substitute other greens like Swiss chard if fresh beet greens are not available.
The main star of this recipe is burdock, a brown-skinned root vegetable with white flesh that’s popular in Japan, where it’s called gobo. Burdock, which is often compared to celery and artichoke, is a good source of magnesium, potassium, folate, and inulin (a fiber). This recipe includes some other root vegetables to complement the flavor of the burdock as well as fill out the dish, since burdock can be quite expensive. If you can’t find burdock in your regular grocery store, try an Asian market or health food store.
White potatoes have gotten a bad rap, but they’re actually quite nutritious: They’re a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium, for example. And our recipe includes the spud’s most nutritious part—the skin, which contains even more fiber, iron, and other nutrients than the flesh. The combination of Yukon Gold potatoes and baking potatoes (which are fluffier and drier) makes a light, creamy, and extremely flavorful smash.
Turnips are economical, grow well in poor soil, and keep well—and can be used any way you use potatoes. They provide good amounts of both insoluble and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and vitamin C. Yellow-fleshed rutabagas (a cross between a turnip and a wild cabbage, often marketed as yellow turnips) contain some beta carotene (white turnips have none). This recipe uses both white and yellow turnips, but you can use either all white or all yellow instead of the combination.
Sweet potatoes are edible roots, not tubers like potatoes, and, in fact, aren’t even related to potatoes. They are members of an entirely different family, the morning glory family. The orange flesh is an excellent source of beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. But did you know that there are white, purple, and other-colored sweet potatoes too? This recipe calls for white sweet potatoes, if you can find them. They’re low in beta carotene but have a somewhat firmer texture that stands up better in stir-frying.
Raw carrots are nutritious, but cooked carrots are even better. That’s because cooking (or processing such as chopping or pureeing) releases the carotenoids, such as beta carotene, from the cell wall “matrix” of the vegetable, making these compounds more available to the body. This recipe cooks the carrots in orange juice and adds a touch of honey and butter, but still comes in relatively low in calories (130 per serving).