14 Vegetables You Really Should Stop Avoiding
Tired of the same old veggies every single day? Branch out into new horizons and enjoy the health benefits of these lesser-used vegetables.
If you’re avoiding tubers because you think they’re too high in starchy carbs, reconsider: Potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. One potato (brown, orange, yellow or purple) contains about 20 grams of complex carbohydrates. Just don’t overdo the toppings or mix-ins, which can significantly increase the fat and calories. Dietitian Amanda Hernandez, RDN, created the perfect mix of savory toppings without busting the calorie budget. Her spicy smashed potatoes combine chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic, fresh tomato, and avocado.
Fennel boasts a fresh, almost sweet, licorice flavor. Half of a fennel bulb provides over 80 percent of your daily vitamin K needs and four grams of fiber in less than 40 calories. Plus, fennel is super versatile and always in season. Thinly slice raw fennel bulb and chop the leaves to add to salads, slaws, or soups. Or, cut the bulb in half and bake, roast, or grill it with your favorite seasonings. Chef and dietitian Abbie Gellman, RDN, incorporates the delicious root vegetable into her super quick and easy Sausage Sheet Pan dinner. Or, try Arizona dietitian Anne Danahy’s Chunky Italian Turkey Fennel Soup. Find out which vegetables are the healthiest to eat.
Also known as Jerusalem artichokes or sunroots, sunchokes are probably not on your weekly meal plan—it’s time to add them. They look like fat ginger root but taste more like a cross between jicama and potato. Native to North America, their botanical name is Helianthus tuberosus, and they’re not even closely related to artichokes—but they are good sources of iron, thiamine, and complex carbohydrates. Peeled and sliced, sunchokes are a crunchy addition to salads, or perfect for snacking on their own. Gellman roasts sunchokes with beets, carrots, and radishes for a healthy and delicious side dish.
This classic spring vegetable should grace your table more often. Asparagus, a flowering perennial plant, is rich in folate, copper, thiamine, and riboflavin. Just one cup provides over 100 percent of your daily vitamin K needs. Researchers are particularly intrigued by the stalks’ phytochemicals, which can ward off a variety of ailments. Enjoy asparagus in pasta, stir-fry dishes, or in any of these 26 delicious recipes. My favorite way to eat asparagus is grilled briefly and drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette. Raw asparagus makes an appearance in this Asparagus Walnut Salad recipe from dietitian Judy Barbe, RDN.
Many people dislike the beautiful B-sprout, but it might be because they haven’t prepared them properly. A delicious way of devouring these cruciferous veggies are roasted halves with olive oil and a bit of salt. They caramelize up and any separated leaves get crunchy—seriously delicious! Just one cup provides 100 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement, and 173 percent of your vitamin K needs. Research shows sulforaphane and indoles, phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, are linked with decreased risk of various cancers. This summer-friendly Asian-inspired Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage Slaw recipe is just the answer for your picnic or barbecue gathering.
Beets may not make a regular appearance on your dinner table, but they should: Research published in the journal Nutrients suggests that beets may have anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventive properties, in part due to their rich concentration of substances known as betalains. These pigments give beets their vibrant red-violet color and happen to be powerful antioxidants. Regular beet consumption may also help regulate blood pressure, thanks to nitrates that help relax and dilate blood vessels. Dietitian and blogger, Chrissy Carrol, RDN, shares her beet-eating ideas, “While beets are most traditionally eaten in salads or soups, you can also get creative with their bright, earthy flavor. Try slicing them thin with a mandolin, tossing in olive oil, and baking into chips. You can also toss cooked beets into smoothies, or spiralize raw beets for ‘noodles.’” For a fun family-friendly drink this summer, try making Carroll’s Beet Lemonade. Check out this surprising beet benefit.
Though super low in calories (less than 10 calories in a whole stalk), celery boasts vitamin K and folate. The classic snack of celery with peanut butter remains a healthy option boasting healthy fats and protein. The traditional mirepoix (diced and cooked over low heat) trio of onion, celery, and carrot is the foundation of many recipes. Celery works well in stir-fry, salads, slaws, and soups. Dietitian blogger Kelli Shallal, RDN includes celery in her Green Juice recipe, and Bloody Mary Steak and Shrimp Kabobs. Genius!
It might look uninviting on the outside, but jicama is a tender, sweet veggie once you peel away the thick brown skin. Sliced jicama sticks tossed with fresh lime juice and cilantro is the easiest salad ever. Dietitian and recipe developer Christy Wilson, RDN, uses it to create summery side dishes—Carrot and Jicama Slaw and Mango-Ji-Cumba Salad with Chile-Lime Dressing. Juiced jicama is popular, too. This root vegetable is low in calories (only 50 calories a cup), but high in fiber and vitamin C.
While spinach is probably the most popular dark leafy green vegetable, expand your palate by using collard greens. They can be swapped equally in your favorite recipes. Sauté collards with eggs, ground meat, or on its own. It will give the dish more texture and savory flavor than spinach will. Toss some collards into your smoothie for a nutrient boost. Collard greens are loaded with vitamins A and K and important minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. Plus, don’t forget about the extra boost of fiber! Dietitian blogger Kelli Shallal, RDN shares her use of collard greens as wraps around Pistachio Chicken Salad and Veggies with Hummus. Check out these healthy vegetables you never knew you liked.
Though there are several varieties of radishes, the common red spheres sold in bunches are known by the botanical name of Raphanus sativus. Crunchy and spicy, radishes make a fresh green salad even more enticing. Eat these root veggies raw, grilled, steamed, or stir-fried. For a different spin on radish delicacy, try Gellman’s idea of roasting them. Radishes are super low in calories (less than 10 calories in a half cup) but contain about 11 percent of your daily need of vitamin C. They also contain sulforaphane, a phytochemical linked with decreased cancer cell growth.
Often overlooked, parsnips resemble white carrots for a reason: They’re actually cousins of the orange carrot. One large parsnip provides complex carbohydrate, six grams of fiber, and is a good source of vitamin C, folate, and copper. Use parsnips anywhere you’d use carrots. Pair them together for a colorful dish. Natalie Rizzo, RDN, got really creative one day and made these tasty Parsnip Chips for snacking. You need to try her healthier crunchy snack! Here’s how to eat more vegetables without really trying.
Baby bok choy—it’s just so cute and tender, and the Asian supermarket sells huge bags of it for less than $2.00. Bok choy is very common in Chinese cooking, but it’s also just a delicious leafy green that can be sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes. Grill it, roast it, or stir-fry it. Anne Danahy, RDN, includes baby bok choy in her DIY ramen noodle recipe. Bok choy is super low in calories, but a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. Plus, bok choy is a cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable.
Packed with fiber—a whopping 10 grams in one globe—artichokes are an elegant addition to your dinner meal. Artichokes are good sources of folate, vitamin K, and magnesium. And they contain polyphenols, known to help reduce cancer risk. Prepare them in a pressure cooker, roasted, grilled, or braised. Judy Barbe, RDN, slow cooks her artichokes for a super simple and delectable appetizer or side dish.
Author and dietitian Sharon Palmer, RDN, states, “Leafy vegetables are nutrition powerhouses, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. In fact, green leafy vegetables are so nutritious, that you should try to fit in at least a few servings a week of these vegetables. Swiss chard is also really easy to grow in your garden, you can clip off leaves, and they keep popping back up. Sauté them with olive oil, stir them into soups, slice tender young leaves into salads, or use them in Asian dishes.” Palmer shares one of her favorite recipes containing Swiss chard, a vegan Spicy Udon Chard and Tofu Bowl.
Next, find out the 17 healthy foods that are actually dangerous to overeat.