roots and shoots
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Recently a dear friend asked me what I see in ingredients when I cook them.
When making a mushroom soup am I focused on the medicinal and detoxifying properties of the fungi?
Are the chopped onions on my cutting board to be consumed for their antioxidant attributes?
Do I include flax seeds in my smoothie because they have potent anti-inflammatory benefits?
The answer? yes and no.
When I prepare food I do so for its flavor.
The yum factor is key in taking food from prescription to consumption. I’m as likely as you are not to eat the substance that I don’t favor, no matter how good it is for me.
So I’ve learned to turn these good-for-me foods into dishes that I know I’ll want to eat. And overtime the worth of the food is complex ~ there’s how it tastes, how it will look in the dish, the energetics of how and where it was grown, and the nutritional properties it will add to the dish I’m eating.
These components all work together to highlight a food’s desirability.
In my perpetual effort to include more veggies in my diet, I’m excited to embrace the celery root this autumn month. Frankly, I’d always been a bit frightened by the hairy and contorted-looking root. (You too?)
Yet when I first tried it a few years ago, I was delighted with both its taste and how symbiotic it’s health benefits are with our intentions for the season. It’s not surprising. When you eat with the season you support the body at its core, to do the healing that’s in sync with nature’s rhythms.
When I look at celeriac I can see both roots and shoots.
I can see the buried and grounded tentacles that stretch into the earth to drink from its wealth of resources as well as the sprigs of leaves that reach toward the promise of the sky.
The days are getting shorter. We’re moving from the warmth of summer to the colder days of winter. And in celeriac I see this transition.
I’m reminded not to rush the season, but instead to stay rooted and stable and to give myself permission to slow down the pace of life and turn inward.
Keep reading for more on the gnarly goodness of this rustic root including one of my favorite fall recipes. Bring on the soup. And be sure to put ceriac on your grocery list this week!
P.S. If you’re a health coach or nutrition practitioner, I’ll be hosting a free Client 911 Webinar Jam that you don’t want to miss.
During the Jam, I’ll be sharing select client cases to illustrate and reveal my ninja-like maneuvers for coaching clients. It’s what I call the “art of counseling.”
I’m offering 3 dates for the free Jam (starting on October 24). Click here to pick the date that works best for you and register.
Creamy Celeriac Soup
Celeriac looks like a gnarly root, or perhaps like a crazy muddy brown turnip. It’s a big bulb that once unearthed, shows many signs of its previous home. The tentacles at its base can stretch out like an octopus, twisted and covered with soil. It’s head is decorated with the leaves of bitter young celery that affirm the light of the season to come. And celeriac tastes like an earthy and rooted version of celery!
- 2 small red onions
- 3 leeks
- 3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
- 1 garnet yam or sweet potato
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1/2 head celeriac
- 4 cups broth *
- 1-1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon sea salt and more to taste
- fresh black pepper
Peel and chop the onion. Set aside. Halve the white part of the leeks and cut into half moon slices.
Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and leek and allow to sweat for a minute or two. Be sure they don’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the ghee, stir, cover the pot and allow to cook gently over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
Peel and cube the yam. Halve the cauliflower and break into florets. Peel the celeriac and chop into cubes. Add all three vegetables to the pot with the onions and leeks. Stir to coat with ghee.
Add the broth and one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, stir, and let sit to cool for 15 minutes.
Blend half the soup and return it to the pot with the unblended portion. Reheat. Add black pepper and more sea salt to taste (you may need quite a bit more salt if your broth does not have added salt). Serve!
(*note): I used a bone broth for my version which was a special gift from my dear friend Durga of The Cook Awakening. Thank you Durga for the extra nourishment and deliciousness you brought to our soup!
CELERIAC: GNARLY GOODNESS
When buying celeriac, look for the smaller bulbs, which will have a less bitter and more refreshing taste than the larger bulbs. You’ll want them to be firm. Once purchased they can be stored in your refrigerator in a plastic bag for several weeks. Peel away the skin and grit prior to use. As Farmer John says: “celeriac is a vegetable that cleans up well”.
That clean inner white flesh of the vegetable will turn brown quickly when exposed to air, much like an apple. Try peeling the skin as close to use as possible. You can also submerge your exposed celeriac in lemon water if you’re not going to use it right away. Like celery, celeriac, which was bred specifically to eat the root, is a relative to parsley.
The Health Benefits of Celeriac:
- Celeriac has plenty of water-soluble fiber. Water-soluble fiber helps to form a bulky gel in the intestine which regulates the flow of waste through the digestive tract. It’s been known to stabilize blood sugar and balance cholesterol levels.
- Celeriac has diuretic properties. This makes it helpful in supporting the detoxification potential of the kidneys.
- Celeriac contains plenty of minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. It contains several of the B vitamins as well as vitamin C. It also contains beta-carotene. A nice roundup of nutrients if you care to view your food through this lens!
Uses for Celeriac:
- Mashed celeriac is a low glycemic version of a traditional comfort food. You can mash it alone or mix it with potatoes.
- Celery root can be peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded for a raw salad, somewhat similar to jicama but less crisp. In this way it pairs nicely with beets, apples or carrots.
- Celeriac is great blended into soups or stews as you’ll experience with the soup recipe above.
- Celery root remoulade is a classic French dish, blended with mayonnaise, mustard, lemon and salt.
- In winter you can substitute celeriac for celery in any recipe.
- Combine celery root with other root vegetables for a warming winter gratin.
- Try making baked celeriac “fries” with coconut oil and sea salt.
- Celeriac pairs nicely with most herbs and nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts.
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