Vegetables You’ve Never Cooked With, but Should
Whether your cooked vegetables are the main show or a complimentary side, the same-old carrots, squash, and potatoes can get boring.
You’ve been to the grocery store and seen all the unique produce. It’s time to get out there, pick up some new veggies, and get to cooking.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got some recommendations for healthy vegetables, plus a featured recipe you can draw inspiration from. Here are some of our favorite vegetables you might not have cooked with (yet).
Spaghetti squash is versatile as it can be used to create a savory (think pasta sauce) or sweet (think brown sugar) dish, both equally delicious.
Substitute spaghetti squash for any pasta to cut the calories and carbs dramatically, plus add some nutrition.
Spaghetti squash turns into fork-tender strands when cooked and is full of antioxidant vitamin C, beta carotene and alpha carotene, fiber, and antioxidants. This vegetable is great for diabetes control because of the fiber content and the fact that it only has 10 grams of carbs per cup.
It’s also great for weight loss, heart health, skin, teeth, and eyes.
Recipe Pick: Lemon Sage Butter Spaghetti Squash
Golden beets are a naturally sweet vegetable that adds vibrant color to any dish. They’re milder than their red beet brothers and won’t stain your hands during chopping.
They are also full of fiber, iron, vitamin K, folic acid, and phytonutrients, one being the phytonutrient lycopene, which has been known to decrease the risk of prostate cancer by acting as an anticarcinogen.
Jicama is another low carb, crisp vegetable that contains vitamin C, Vitamin A and plenty of fiber. One serving of this contains almost half of your daily fiber needs. Jicama also contains inulin, a prebiotic that is a food source for probiotics. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria in your gut that help support your immune system. Jicama is perfect for an on the go snack or in a stir-fry as it adds a nutty flavor to your dish.
Recipe Pick: Mango Jicama Slaw
This purple vegetable contains potassium, vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6 and plenty of phytonutrients. More specifically, eggplant contains anthocyanins that can decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease. It also contains chlorogenic acid which has been shown to decrease LDL levels. Chlorgenic acid also acts as an antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-carcinogen meaning it helps fight off the common cold and could decrease your cancer risk.
Recipe Pick: Eggplant Pasta Salad
This vegetable is known for its licorice smell and flavor, and bonus points: you can use the entire plant.
It’s only 73 calories per serving and contains fiber, potassium, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, iron, vitamin b6 and magnesium. It also contains an important nutrient called selenium that has been shown to decrease tumor growth in some studies and aids in liver enzyme function, which is important since the liver is your body’s “detoxer.” Fennel also contains dietary nitrates that can help lower blood pressure.
Recipe Pick: Ultimate Vegetable Pot
A member of the cabbage family, bok choy is good in stir fry, soup, or roasted by itself as a side. Bok choy is a green with a simple and savory taste.
It is known as a “negative” calorie food because it takes more calories to digest than the vegetable contains, but I wouldn’t eat this in place of exercise. This veggie comes with a day’s worth of vitamin A and two-thirds of your daily vitamin C in just one cup.
Recipe Pick: Bok Choy Stir Fry with Oyster Sauce & Garlic
A sunchoke is root vegetable that can be used in similar ways as a potato, but it can also be eaten raw. This veggie has, you guessed it, vitamin C, fiber and the prebiotic inulin that was mentioned above with jicama. It also contains B vitamins, which helps improve your metabolism and keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy.
Recipe Pick: Easy Roasted Sunchokes
Cooking More with the Underrated Vegetables: Food For Thought
Each one of these vegetables, along with many other more familiar vegetables, contain two of the most common deficiencies in America; Vitamin C and Vitamin A.
Nutrition labels highlight some of the most important nutrients for our bodies: iron, calcium, vitamin A and Vitamin C, but most processed foods have nowhere near 100% of your daily needs. Take an adventure in the produce section and you will find all the nutrients that you need to live a healthy life. More nutrients, less fat, more filling.
More nutrients, less fat, more filling.
So work with one of the mentioned vegetables. Find new ways to bring flavor to your dinners, all while staying healthy and providing your body the nutrition it craves.
Kelsey graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Dietetics and Public Health Nutrition and is currently working on her Master in Nutrition and Dietetics. Since becoming a registered dietitian, she works at a hospital providing medical nutrition therapy, teaches at Pure Barre, and dances for a professional cheerleading team in the NFL.