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Yoga Food, Nutrition, & Recipes

The Root of It

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At this time of year, root vegetables usually make their appearance in farmers’ markets and grocery stores around the country. And what a long and honorable history they have.

In many parts of northern Europe (think “Ireland” and “potatoes” for instance) root vegetables were often what kept people alive during the cold winter months. In climates too harsh to support plant life above ground, the root veggies buried in a slightly warmer soil, or that had been dug up and brought into cellars and pantries, got people through.

The repertoire of ways to prepare roots vegetables in northern Europe were pretty simple. Soups. Purees. Mashed. Roasted. And subsequent variations on the theme.

These preperation still work today, adding warmth and heartiness to these colder nights. Just the other night I went to an event at the yoga studio where I practice. When the “Six Tastes of Ayurveda” appetizer buffet rolled around, there was a pan of roasted root vegetables with a honey mustard sauce to drizzle over the top for the “pungent” taste.

According to ayurvedic principles, root vegetables help us to stay grounded and heal, support, and nurture the root chakra energies. Roots are also full of complex carbohydrates and phytonutrients. In general, the more color a root veggie has, the more vitamins it possesses.

Here are a couple of my favorite root vegetable recipes. The first is Roasted Root Vegetables in Apple Cider. (This can be done either in a roasting pan in the oven or in a slow cooker.) I suggest you consider using some of those tiny root veggies such as spuds, turnips, beets, and rutabagas, but if you can’t find those, then by all means, use conventional-sized veggies and cut them into bite-sized pieces. If you are using tiny veggies, peel them but leave the stubs of tops in tact.

1 pound carrots, peeled

1 pound parsnips, peeled

1 pound rutabagas or turnips, peeled

1 cup apple cider

4 tablespoons butter or ghee

Place the veggies in the pan and add the butter and pour the apple cider over them. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or until the veggies are very tender. If you are roasting in the oven, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, then cover the veggies with the butter and apple cider, and cook for about an hour. Add salt to taste, then serve.

This next recipe for Celery Root Soup, is from my new book, 50 Simple Soup Recipes for the Slow Cooker. But you don’t need a slow cooker; the soup can also be made on the stove top.

The celery root (also known as celeriac or the turnip-rooted celery), though not as widely known, is a versatile and flavorful winter root. I find it easy to clean (peel it like you would a potato), and offering the same pleasant flavor and aroma of its stalky, leafy cousin.

2 tablespoons butter or ghee

3 medium leeks, sliced, white and pale green parts only

1 1/2 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

5 cups water

1 tsp salt, or to taste

1 cup half and half or soy cream (optional)


1 granny smith apple, matchsticks or chopped

1 celery rib, thinly sliced

1/3 cup inner celery leaves

In a pan, sauté the leeks in butter for about 10 minutes. (If cooking soup on the stove, cook the leeks in the pot that you’ll be using.)

Add the leeks, celery root, and water to the slow cooker and cook on LOW for about 4-6 hours or until the root is tender.

If cooking on the stove, add the celery root and water to the sauted leeks in the pot, turn down the heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until the root is tender.

Add the cream or soy cream if you are using it, then using a hand held immersion blender, puree the soup, then add salt to taste. Let the soup cook until all ingredients are hot.

Top each serving with a bit of apple, sliced celery stalk, and some celery leaves.

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