Health Benefits from Root Crops

Health Benefits from Root Crops
If you have not been eating root crops like sweet potato (kamote for Pinoys), maybe it is time for you to include these in your daily food intake.

Root crops are found to be essential to the body’s wellness as these are teeming with vitamins, notably Vitamin C, carbohydrates and minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc which our body needs. An added bonus: root crops are also rich source of soluble dietary fibre. Studies on soluble dietary fibre have shown this to help lower bad cholesterol and help prevent tumor growth in the colon.

Root crops are inexpensive supplement to dietary requirements. For example, a cup of rice can be substituted with two pieces of medium-sized boiled sweet potatoes. They are also considered to be energy boosters.

Conscious or not of the health benefits one gets from consuming these root crops, many Filipinos have included these in their regular diet. In fact, sweet potato and cassava are considered basic staple food in some parts in the Philippines.

Root crops indigenous to the Philippines are broadly classified into four major types: sweet potato (kamote), cassava (kamoteng kahoy/balanghoy, taro (gabi and yam (ubi). Different forms of developed products such as starch, flour, chips, and grates are available at markets.

There are many ways of preparing root crops to make them more appealing and flavourful yet retaining their essential nutrients. Other than boiling, steaming and frying, these root crops can be made into soups, main dishes and desserts. Since there are many varieties available, many recipes would call for a specific kind although of course, a home cook can always tweak a recipe.

Taro for instance is a constant ingredient for pork sinigang, a soupy main dish popular among Filipinos. Purple yam is normally used for jams, cakes and even ice cream. Sweet potato and cassava are also versatile and can be made into anything – from candies to fritters to cakes. Even the young leaves of sweet potato are edible and often made into salad or crispies. The leaves and stalks of gabi are also cooked with coconut milk, shrimps, pork and lots of finger chillies.

Here are two recipes using cassava and sweet potato respectively. I chose these recipes for simplicity in cooking method. Likewise, the root crop is retained as the main attraction and is not overwhelmed by other ingredients.

Quick and Easy Sweet Potato Bread

Preheat oven and set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan and set aside. Prepare the following ingredients:
1 cup sweet potato, boiled and mashed
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup roasted nuts, chopped (peanuts or cashew, your choice)
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoon baking powder

Combine first three ingredients; then blend in the rest. Put mixture into the prepared well-greased loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until done.

Cassava Fritters

In this recipe, you would need one cup of grated cassava with its juice extracted. Add an egg, dash of ground pepper, half a teaspoon of salt, and two tablespoons of minced green onion and mix. Drop a tablespoon of the mixture in hot oil and deep fry. Serve hot.

Simple fares yet filling. Eat, enjoy and benefit from the root crops’ nutrients!

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