Day 4 Kick Start 2022 Plant-Based Challenge

Welcome to Day 4!

Yesterday we looked at plenty of reasons to increase our intake of mighty cruciferous veggies. Are you feeling on the road to green and clean yet? I hope so!

Today we will head underground for a deeper look at the more controversial root vegetables.

I imagine that starchy root veggies often feel like a misunderstood family member. How many times have you been told that potatoes are bad carbs?

In reality, potatoes are healthy food for most people. They’re incredibly filling, which helps with weight loss — as long as you stay away from chips and fries, and leave off the cheese!

They’re full of antioxidants, support bone health, and contain a form of soluble fibre that feeds and delights the beneficial bacteria in your gut. And that’s just the tip of the tuber!

The Other Good Roots

Other root vegetables include sweet potatoes (black, purple, orange, and white), jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and taproots (think beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips). Take some time to check out this area of the marketplace and reacquaint yourself with these quiet, often overlooked, sometimes homely (looking at you, celeriac), but immensely useful vegetables. Root vegetables are good for us. We know it in our gut!

You’ve probably heard about probiotics, AKA “good” bacteria that help maintain healthy gut function and keep your immune system strong. But what about prebiotics?

Prebiotics are, simply put, food for the probiotics. They come from the non-digestible fibre in certain plant-based foods. In addition to feeding good bacteria, other prebiotic benefits include: supporting your immune system, regulating blood sugar, aiding weight loss, and assisting in mineral absorption.

 

Root vegetables have an especially high prebiotic content because they’re rich in a compound called resistant starch. They’re also full of two very special forms of soluble fiber: inulin and oligofructose. Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion and ferments, acting as a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material and can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.

 

Suffice to say, root veggies can do good things for your health!

The Yumminess Factor:

Root veggies have long been considered a comfort food because they’re so filling and make for satisfying warm meals during the colder months. So, if you’re looking to kick those winter blues, you may be pleased to know that root veggies are loaded with nutrients (B vitamins, in particular) that support brain health and help regulate mood.

Many root vegetables are naturally sweet but become even sweeter when exposed to cold weather thanks to the conversion of starch into natural sugar, which is good to know if you’re growing your own. This sweetness makes root veggies versatile enough to be used in sweet or savory dishes. You can also bring out their natural sweetness via different cooking methods, like roasting or baking.

TODAY’S ACTION:  Enjoy an entirely new root vegetable — or enjoy a familiar one in a whole new way.

Today’s Delicious Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie Mouse

 

Ingredients

 2 medium-large sweet potatoes
 4 tbsp date paste (+2 Tbsp as desired, see recipe below, or sweetener of choice)
 1 cup coconut milk (light or full fat)
 2 tsp vanilla extract (preferably alcohol-free)
 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or pumpkin spice blend)
 2 pinches ground nutmeg
  tsp salt (optional)

Directions

1.Bake the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.Poke 4–6 holes through the potatoes with a fork. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 45–50 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender on the inside.
3.Once finished cooking, let cool then remove the skin.
4.Measure 2 cups mashed sweet potato and transfer to a blender or food processor.
5.Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
6.Taste for more sweetness or spice.
7.Refrigerate for 1–2 hours before serving.
8.Top with coconut flakes, pecans, or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Date Paste:

Directions:

1.Soak dates in water, so that they are completely covered, for 2 hours or more.
2.Drain.
3.Add the dates and ¾ cup of water to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
4.Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for three months.
5.Use as needed to sweeten desserts, baked goods, smoothies, and more!

Chef’s Notes

Determine your consistency
If needed, add water a bit of water to create the consistency you need. If using the paste in baked recipes, use as little water as possible. If the paste is runny, it will add additional moisture to the recipe and may negatively impact the finished product. Add a variety of flavors
For a different flavor note, add a pinch of ground spice, such as cinnamon or nutmeg.
Add sea salt with a bit of fresh lemon juice.
Add vanilla extract or the seeds of a vanilla pod before blending for vanilla-flavored paste.

Cooking the sweet potato

If you prefer to steam or boil the sweet potato, that is fine! Baking tends to lend to a little more sweetness, but the other methods also work well.

Add unsweetened coconut flakes.
Add toasted nuts or seeds.

Make it more or less sweet
Start with the lesser amount of date paste and add more as you like.

Research from the Food Revolution Network