When we hear the word vegetables, a lot of us automatically think of greens and overlook other options. While things such as kale, spinach or broccoli certainly contribute to your five, seven or nine a day (depending on the government recommendations in your part of the world!), it’s easy to forget there’s a whole other class of vegetables out there. And these are particularly good in the winter months, especially if you prefer to shop locally.
Root vegetables have long been the preferred choice during the winter months – indeed, until recent times they were the only vegetables that could be obtained during the winter. Beets, parsnips, carrots and turnips are actually the taproots of the plant they come from, and their purpose is to store the energy the plant needs to survive. It comes as no surprise, then, that they’re full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. The most obvious example is the humble carrot providing vitamin A (fun fact – one of the things vitamin A does is to keep your eyes healthy. No wonder your grandmother used to say that carrots would help you to see in the dark!), but almost any root vegetable can be given a new lease of life when roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, or mashed into a fresh bowl of soup.
Another crop that tends to overlooked in favour of it’s more famous Hallowe’en cousin is the winter squash. Squashes such as acorn, butternut and Kabocha are part of the gourd family so have hard, shell-like skins that mean they can last up to six months after harvest. They are also rich in potassium, vitamins C and A, and fibre. Don’t overlook the pumpkin either. Not just delicious in sweet pies, they also make a great roasted vegetable, a delicious soup, and the seeds, when roasted, are an excellent superfood.
Finally, a vegetable that can be added to almost any savoury dish – the onion. A bulb vegetable in the same family as leeks and garlic, onions can be stored for months in cold weather and are rich in vitamins B and C and fibre, and the sulphur-containing compounds that make your eyes water also provide antioxidant properties. Add an onion to stews, casseroles, pasta sauces and curries and you’re not only adding flavour but a whole extra helping of nutritional value!