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White Roasted Vegetables with Spinach and Sweet Potato

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published September 27, 2022

The light seasoning of this vegetable dish lets the true flavor of the roasted vegetables stand out and take center stage.

This hearty dish is a great way to welcome the start of fall and, hopefully, some cooler weather. Parsnips add a unique flavor to the nutrient rich dish. You can even sub out the sweet potatoes for white potatoes if you really want to play up the white colors in this dish.

Why Sweet Potatoes Are A Great Main Ingredient

Sweet potatoes are sweet, starchy root vegetables that are grown worldwide. They come in a variety of sizes and colors — including orange, white, and purple — and are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Not to mention, they provide a number of health benefits and are easy to add to your diet.

Just one sweet potato gives you 400% of the RDA for vitamin A. This helps keep your eyes healthy as well as your immune system, your body's defense against germs. It's also good for your reproductive system and organs like your heart and kidneys. 

Even better, one sweet potato has about 4 grams of plant-based fiber, which helps you maintain a healthy weight and lowers risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Why Sweet Potato Instead of White Potato?

They may both be called potatoes, but sweet and regular white potatoes are not related. Botanically, the sweet potato belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, whereas the white potato sits in the nightshade family. 

Although they can both be part of a healthy diet, sweet potatoes provide different nutrients than other potatoes, partly because of their incredibly high vitamin A content. 

Our bodies benefit from this carbohydrate energy because glucose is the preferred fuel for most tissues. But, while they’re all broken down into glucose in the end, not all carbohydrates are created equal when it comes to their influence on our blood glucose. 

Sweet potatoes have something called complex carbohydrates, which means they take longer for your digestive system to digest and absorb, which leads to a reduced blood glucose rise as well as more sustained energy levels. 

On average, according to the USDA one medium sweet potato contains:

  • 112 calories

  • 438 mg potassium

  • 3.9 grams of fiber

  • 5 g sugar

  • 2 g protein

Minerals are just as essential as vitamins, and that same medium-sized sweet potato provides 25% of the daily value of manganese, 20% of the daily value of copper, and 12% of the daily value of potassium. 

Getting enough manganese is important for promoting bone health and regulating blood glucose, copper helps with a variety of functions such as making new red blood cells, and potassium is essential for optimizing nerve function.

Buying Tips

Sweet potatoes are available year-round and are at their peak during the winter. When choosing sweet potatoes, have in mind what you are going to use them for. Larger ones tend to have a more stringy texture and take longer to cook because of their size. Small sweet potatoes have a more uniform texture but contain less meat. Avoid any with bruises or signs of sprouting. 

Some common traits of bad sweet potatoes are discoloration and growths through the skin. They will begin to get soft and wet (water will leak out) and then turn brown and/or black. If part of the sweet potato goes bad, the whole potato should be thrown out, as the flavor is affected.

You can also look for frozen sweet potato cubes, which are already peeled and diced, making it easy to add to various recipes. Pre-bagged sweet potatoes may be a better buy than individual pieces.

Perk up With Parsnips

Have you tried parsnips? Popular around the world, parsnips in America are starting to be noticed by plant-based eaters. This is because parsnips are loaded with vitamins, packed with subtle flavors, and are a healthy alternative to potatoes for those limiting their carbohydrate macros.

Along with vitamin C, parsnips are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps your heart function, balances your blood pressure, and lowers your risk for kidney stones. One serving of parsnips provides about 10 percent of your recommended daily intake of potassium.

Parsnips are also high in fiber, which can support regularity, improve your digestive health, regulate blood glucose levels, and enhance heart health.

When shopping for parsnips, pass by the biggest, fattest parsnips, which tend to be woody inside, and instead, go for firm small or medium-size ones. Ignore any that are limp or discolored. Look for firm flesh without soft spots, blemishes, cuts, or cracks.

Storing Sweet Potatoes & Parsnips

Sweet potatoes stay fresh longest in a cool or room-temperature location, away from moisture, heat, and light. As long as the location is cool, dry, and dark, sweet potatoes will last up a month or longer. 

If you've already peeled a sweet potato and want to save it for later, you can store it in the fridge. In this case, you can store it tightly wrapped or in an airtight container in the fridge. Use it as soon as possible—within 2 to 3 days is best. 

If purchasing parsnips from the grocery store, loosely wrap parsnips in dry paper towels and seal them in a plastic bag or airtight container. Place parsnips in your refrigerator's vegetable crisper drawer. They should last for at least two weeks in the fridge.

White Roasted Vegetables with Spinach and Sweet Potato

Beverley Verwey
Course Dinner, Lunch
Servings 1 person
Calories 427 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 medium cauliflower cut into 1" pieces
  • 3 parsnips chopped in a similar size to the cauliflower
  • 1 medium onion chopped into wedges
  • 1 medium sweet potato chopped into 1" cubes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups fresh spinach chopped

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to Bake at 425 degrees F.
  • Combine all the ingredients together and place in a large casserole dish. Add the vegetable broth.
  • Roast for 20 minutes, then mix the vegetables
  • Add the spinach on top and cook for another 10 minutes or until vegetables or tender and spinach is wilted.
  • Serve.

Notes

For more flavor or heat, add other spices such as curry, cumin, or turmeric.
To continue with the white vegetable theme you can replace the sweet potato with a Yukon Gold potato.

Nutrition

Calories: 427kcalCarbohydrates: 72gProtein: 14.6gFat: 2.1gSodium: 282.6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.