Above, counter clockwise: unpeeled taro root, peeled taro, taro root smoothie, an earlier packaging pic of an idea I had for a taro & scallion boat before we knew a wheat dumpling wrapper was possible.
Taro root is a staple root vegetable in Southeast Asia, Africa, India, China, the Caribbean and the Polynesian islands. It’s often used like a potato. I grew up eating taro root in China, where I lived until I was five years old, in braised dishes and steamed with savory ingredients. Then, my mother and I moved to New York and then to Montana where I spent the vast majority of my childhood. Needless to say, it was hard to find taro, let alone any exotic vegetables back then.
When my mom and I would travel, we would make sure to eat taro. Taro root can be roasted, boiled, fried or baked. The leaves can be eaten just like spinach! Unlike potatoes, its texture is custardy and it has purple tinge once it’s cooked. It has a nutty flavor from natural sugars that come out during the cooking process. What sets this root vegetable apart from it’s starchy cousins is it’s nutrients. Taro contains three times as much fiber as a potato, is a great source of potassium and is a low glycemic index food. It’s also is very easy to digest.
The glycemic index measures how your blood sugar levels rise after you eat carbohydrates. An index number from 1-100, with 100 as the reference score stands for pure glucose, a.k.a. sugar. Foods are rated high (greater than 70), moderate (56-69), or low (less than 55). On the GI scale, taro is rated low with a score of 18. A low GI means that it’s absorbed into your body slower, which allows you to feel fuller longer since it takes longer to metabolize.
It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t eat taro raw, it needs to be cooked. To prepare taro root for cooking, peel it with a vegetable peeler under running water. This will help you to avoid any sensitivity to the juices, which can cause a mild stinging sensation. You can also a knife to remove the skin. Shield your hands with a towel or gloves. Keep your taro covered with water in a bowl or pan until you’re ready to use it. It pairs nicely with with milk or other calcium-rich foods. I love taro with coconut milk. Here’s a recipe for a taro root smoothie.
Sue’s Taro Root Smoothie
1 1/2 cup ice
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup taro powder or ½ cup steamed fully cooked taro
1/4 cup of simple raw cane syrup or ¼ cup of sweetened condensed milk
Blend together and get your taro on!