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Root, root, root for roots!

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With cooling temps and football season in full swing, it can only mean one thing: autumn has arrived. Embracing the new season and all of its bounty can be delicious, nutritious and colorful.

According to ancient Chinese medicine, root vegetables can have a "grounding" effect. Think about plant roots; they anchor the plant into the Earth and become conduits that draw up and supply nutrients to the top leaves. Roots offer support and nourishment. They're the good guys, doing the behind-the-scenes, underground work.

Food can also be looked at as having "energetic" properties. Think about the hot, spicy, sultry dishes that make you sweat. How about the vichyssoise, cucumber and salad feeling…cool, right? Well, roots can feel grounding, sweet and comforting. They make us feel physically and mentally "rooted."

They can also act as carbo-loading fuel for athletes to increase stamina, stability and endurance. Still, root vegetables provide a great amount of fiber too, buffering the carbohydrate qualities. This added fiber, combined with the nutrient-dense, complex carbs, actually slows and eases the rate that the carbs leave the stomach and keeps your blood sugar stable rather than spiking.

Consider making root vegetables your new comfort food. They provide warmth, comfort and satisfaction with the right hint of texture – just what this season warrants. So, put down your pasta, banish your bucatini and wrap your heart around roots!

Throw in some legumes like black beans or chickpeas and voilà! You have an instant vegetarian main or side dish to serve, whether it's a special game day party or just your regular weeknight routine.

OVEN ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES RECIPE

Ingredients
A combination of sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas and beets
1 onion, cut into wedges
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Rosemary
Sea salt

Peel and cut root vegetables into chunks. (Note: peeling is more of a personal preference, as it's not really necessary.)

Put all except sweet potato into a pot of boiling water. After 2 minutes add the sweet potato.

Once you can pierce the potato with a fork, drain the vegetables and transfer along with onion and garlic to a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil. Spread out the veggies so they get even broil time. Spray olive oil on top and add a sprinkling of rosemary.

Roast in oven broiler until golden brown, then remove and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Any leftovers are wonderful for use in salads and soups, but I bet there won't be any left over!

Have a health question for Dr. Debra Foschi, nutritionist for the Patriots Cheerleaders? Let us know at lifestyle@patriots.com.

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