Many of us here in Trinidad and across the Caribbean may not know what a root vegetable is (although the name is pretty obvious), but if you say ground provision, we can certainly list over five types with about 3 different ways to cook and eat it.
Imagine this; it’s Sunday 10am, the house is alive with vibes. The meats are already seasoned, the peas are bubbling on the stove, the Sunday tunes are jamming on the radio and you are preparing your final side for Sunday lunch. We would quickly choose to stir fry some rice or boil some macaroni for a pie, but coming from an island we have the opportunity to eat foods that are natural, fresh, and full of nutrients. Root vegetables are packed with fibre and antioxidants yet low in calories and fat, which make them an excellent choice to add as a dish to your Sunday lunch or any meal for that matter. They provide a great source of Potassium and Vitamin A, B and C. Along with their nutrition value, the versatility which these vegetables posses are countless.
Here’s a list of our favorite root vegetables and how we love to cook & eat them:
Root Vegetable #1 Cassava
Also known as yuca or manioc, Cassava is native to South America and is a tuber crop; meaning it has a modified underground stem, where it stores its food and is edible. Cassava is very similar to sweet potato. One of our favorite ways to prepare cassava is deep frying them. Peel and finely slice the cassava then deep fry in your choice of oil. The result is a somewhat healthier version of potato chips, with a heavier crunch and flavorful taste. Cassava is very often mulled into a fine powder and used as a wheat flour substitute, with all the cooking & baking capabilities of normal flour.
Root Vegetable #2 Yam
Is Yam a sweet potato? Thats definitely one of the first question many people ask when they are introduced to the root vegetable yam.
“A true yam is a starchy edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. It is rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene.” www.ncsweetpotatoes.com
Like Cassava, Yam is a tuber crop, but unlike sweet potato it is not usually sweet; but the taste can be altered with various cooking methods. The skin may be brown to light pink and the inside can range in colors from white, yellow pink and even purple. Yam is grown worldwide but Africa holds the highest percentage (95%) of yam grown in one region. Here in Trinidad we enjoy yam as a staple when it comes to any provision dish. For example, in a salt fish and provision dish, it will definitely include boiled yam as one of the provisions severed. When smothered with the salt-fish sauce it’s possibly one of the best root vegetable for us to enjoy. Yam can also be made into a flour for richer earthy baking ingredient.
Root Vegetable #3 Ginger
Would you even consider ginger a vegetable? Well it is. It’s part of the rhizomes family which just means it’s a fleshy underground stem that’s also edible. As we all know ginger has a reputation for its healing properties and is full of antioxidants. Regularly used in Trinidad as part of seasoning foods, ginger can be consumed raw. Adding ginger to our juices is also a popular way to consume ginger. Recently we discovered the use of ginger in cosmetics.
“Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which is the result of having an excess amount of free radicals in the body” www.healthline.com
Root Vegetable #4 Carrots
We can say carrots are one of the most overlooked root vegetable, but one of the most versatile. Carrots were first grown for medicinal purpose and can be traced almost 5,000 years back through ancient paintings and depictions. Known for its high level of Vitamin A and beta-carotene, carrots have a great reputation for improving your skin and eye sight. One thing that people may not know about carrots is that baby carrots aren’t a different species of carrots, in fact they are pieces and parts of the regular root vegetable we know. The versitality of carrots is also what makes it one of our favorites. Besides being a great addition to any seasoned pot, carrots have be recently seen trending as on social media being used as a replacement for bacon. Stripped into slices using a potato peeler, then dipped into maple syrup and liquid smoke, can transform carrots into the vegan version of bacon strips.
Root Vegetable #5 Onions
Onions can possibly be the most popular root vegetable in Trinidad. Every household has seen an onion in its fridge or veggie basket at one point of time. Growing wild on almost every continent, onion is the easiest vegetable to be consumed on our list. In Trinidad we cannot begin to season a pot without onions, even if it’s onions alone, we need the onions. The Egyptians believed that onions would help them succeed in the after life. Onions like many on our root vegetable list, is high in antioxidants and decreases triglycerides and reduces cholesterol levels. The main use we see for onions is in foods but it’s popularity makes it a great selection for our list.
Many of the root vegetables listed here today are readily available here in Trinidad and are part of many people’s daily lives, although there are many more to this the root vegetable list with many different nutrients facts. In our research we’ve learnt that root vegetables are an excellent way to add nutrition to your diet. Along with many other benefits, the consumption of root vegetables prevent against heart disease and keeps your guts healthy by providing the probiotics our body requires. Now that you know root vegetables can range from high carbohydrates to high beta-carotene please ensure your diet includes it. We highly recommend it.