Q: What are some seasonal vegetables I should be taking advantage of in my cooking?
A: Two of my favorite little-known winter vegetables are celeriac and cardoon. Celeriac is as ugly as it is tasty, so don’t let first impressions dissuade you! It is the root of the celery plant, and as such, has a mild celery flavor. However, as a root vegetable, it has a starchy, potato-like texture. Celeriac works best peeled and then cooked and mashed (like potatoes), or shredded and added to soups, stews and winter casseroles. It is a nutritional gem, boasting 13 percent of your recommended daily value of potassium, 15 percent of your vitamin B6, 20 percent of your vitamin C as well as 2.3 grams of protein and 2.8 grams of fiber all in 66 calories (1 cup).
My other favorite, cardoon, is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It is a close relative of the artichoke and contains many antioxidant and health-promoting substances. Research suggests that the bitter principles it contains (cynarin and sesquiterpene-lactones) can reduce overall cholesterol in the blood. The stalks can be braised, sautéed or boiled and added to soups. A 1 cup serving of shredded cardoon contains only 30 calories and 20 percent of your daily value of potassium, 7 percent of your recommended iron, and 12 percent of your calcium. It also contains 1.2 grams of protein and 2.8 grams of fiber per serving.
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