Actress Shailene Woodley isn’t afraid of trying out new health trends — like eating clay and drinking bone broth — but her latest wellness “find,” taro, is something almost everyone will like. The best part? There are even a ton of taro root recipes that fit in every meal of the day.
“I always feel like my Rolodex of newer, exotic foods is expanding,” she told Livestrong.
“When I was in Fiji filming [the movie Adrift], there was this plant called taro — it grows in lots of tropical landscapes in Hawaii and all over the world, and it’s really good for you. You can use the taro root and sort of cook it like a potato, or you can use the taro leaves and make creamed spinach dishes or swap it out for collard greens or kale in any dish, so that was my go-to nutrient booster in Fiji.”
Health Benefits of Taro Root
Woodley is right: The health benefits of taro root are far reaching.
The vegetable — native to Asian and African countries — is known for its hardiness and is similar in texture to a potato. It’s chock full of dietary fiber and carbs, along with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, vitamin E, and folate. There’s also plenty of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
“Taro also contains minerals like copper and zinc,” registered dietitian Isabel Smith told Eat This, Not That. “These are key for thyroid health. Meanwhile, manganese is part of an antioxidant pathway in the body, and there’s also potassium for your heart health.”
Unfortunately, protein isn’t one of the benefits of taro root — the amount is so low that you can’t really count it toward your daily protein needs.
How to Cook Taro Root
Here’s the bad news about taro root: It doesn’t taste good when its raw. So while it’s inedible in its natural state, it does bring a nutty (and slightly sweet) taste to dishes when cooked. There are three main methods for cooking taro root: boiling, baking or frying.
Many of the taro root recipes we’re featuring here called for soft, boiled taro root. To boil taro root, you need to:
- Clean the taro root under warm water.
- Peel with a vegetable peeler.
- Cut into small chunks.
- Add water to a saucepan, along with a pinch of salt.
- Place taro root chunks into the water and bring to a boil.
- Cook for 15 minutes and then prepare according to the taro root recipe.
Taro Root Recipes to Try
Not sure how to start experiencing the benefits of taro root? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite taro root recipes. This list is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you can do with the tuber, but it’s a good start!
Taro Root Smoothie with Coconut Milk
One way to ease into the flavor of taro root is through smoothies.
This recipe uses taro root to make a creamy — and vegan! — smoothie that has only five ingredients: taro root, coconut milk, sugar, water, and ice.
Taro Smoothie (Sinh To Khoai Mon)
Trang at RunAwayRice uses taro root and purple yams — along with sweetened condensed milk and a few other ingredients — to make a purple powerhouse smoothie that simply looks delicious.
Coconut Taro Ice Cream
I’ll be honest: The reason I want to try this taro ice cream recipe isn’t that it’s ice cream — it’s because it’s purple ice cream! Seriously: How good does this look? And it only uses a few ingredients, including coconut cream, to make.
Cocoyam Ice Cream
Foods From Africa pairs taro root—also known as cocoyam—with coconut milk and cream to create a rich ice cream that hints of vanilla. This one is more calorically dense than some other ice cream recipes, so save it for a special occasion.
Taro Coconut Ice Cream Recipe
The Nature Moms created a vibrant taro root ice cream recipe using only three ingredients: taro root, sugar, and coconut milk. You can’t help but want a scoop after looking at the brightly colored results.
Taro Bubble Tea Smoothie
If you’ve ever had bubble tea, you know how addicting it is — and adding taro root to the recipe is just an added bonus. Angel Wong’s Kitchen shows how you can make a taro bubble tea smoothie without a lot of effort. All you need is one cube of taro root, along with some non-dairy creamer, milk, and water.
Taro Milk Bubble Tea
Bossen also has an easy-to-make taro bubble tea recipe that uses both whole taro root and taro root powder. Don’t forget the tapioca pearls!
Taro Cake (Chinese Wu Tao Gou)
If you’re like me, you assume “cake” means it’s a sweet dish. Not with the taro cake recipe at The Woks of Life: This savory cake — also known as Chinese Wu Tao Gou — is made with sausage, shrimp, and scallions for a tasty snack. You can also add a little oyster sauce for additional tasty noms.
Steamed Taro Cake (Orh Kueh/Wu Tau Koh)
The Indonesian taro cake recipe — known as Kue Keladi — from What to Cook Today is also savory, but this time it’s made with taro root, dried shrimp, garlic, and shallots. Looks amazing.
Taro Sweet Buns
From the outside, bread made with taro root looks a lot like your normal, everyday stuff. Bunch inside you’ll see a rich purple hue that makes eating so much more colorful — and fun. Some of the taro root recipes you’ll find on the web are more like pastries with a creamy taro root filling, while others are made to serve with more savory meals.
The taro bread recipe at Runaway Rice definitely looks like a pastry — and also pretty darn delicious. The taro root filling turns into a pudding-like consistency when baked, which makes our mouths water just thinking about it.
Creamy Taro Root Soup
Dessert foods are great, but we can’t live on sweets alone. Luckily, you can make everything from taro root French fries to taro root chips. Another way? Via creamy soups that have taro root as the main ingredient.
The East-meets-West creamy taro root soup from Cook Up a Passion is just the recipe to ease you into taro root recipes. The smooth texture in this hearty soup is courtesy of both taro root and potatoes. Add some onion, paprika, and dried mint leaf to create a soup that’s good for a cold night — or a brisk spring day.
Korean Taro Soup (Toran Guk)
Want something a little more broth-based? This Korean taro soup from Asian Inspirations is exactly what you’re looking for. The simple recipe calls for beef brisket, along with taro root, fish sauce, and garlic. The most difficult ingredient you’ll need to find to make it? Perilla seed powder.