Sick of the same old broccoli and potatoes but have no idea how to mix things up? Us too. Well, happy days are ahead. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, but just love your fruits and veggies, don’t let yourself get stuck in the rut of the same lettuce-tomato-onion-type foods over and over. It’s time to check out the more “foodie” plant-based foods and learn to work some new vegetables and fruits into your diet.
No more falling into the routine of eating the same things all the time. The glorious thing about vegan or plant-based eating is that there’s an incredible array of foods, flavours, and textures out there that are just waiting to be discovered. While we tend to just pass on by without thinking, even our typical grocery store has a produce section that carries seasonal and ethnic foods we’d oooh and aaah over if they were served in a restaurant. And these foods are convenient, inexpensive, and yummy.
So consider this your wake-up call to use plant-based eating as a way to grow your diet with fantastic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans you’re missing out on.
Not sure where to start? In the spirit of a number that signifies longevity, here are yummy veggies and fruits that are healthy and tasty, but not part of the average diet. Seriously, who wants to be average, anyway?
6 NUTRITIOUS NEW VEGETABLES AND FRUITS TO TRY TODAY
Jicama, also known as a Mexican potato, is a big, heavy, brown fruit that really does look like a weird potato. The excellent thing about jicama is that it is very crisp and crunchy, but has a mild taste like a cucumber. Jicama can be sliced and used with dips as an alternative to chips, eaten in sticks like any other crunchy veggie, or added to salads for a snappy texture without confusing the flavour profile. It’s a great side dish served with a spritz of lime juice and a dusting of chili powder if you’d like a little kick!
In Asian cuisine, bok choy is a staple. For most of us, though, we’d never think to work bok choy into a dish, which is unfortunate because of how versatile and healthy this veggie is. Bok choy can be added to a salad, but it can also be eaten like you’d eat celery with a little hummus or nut butter. It can also be added to soups or stirfrys, or braised or grilled on its own, and given a little seasoning to become a brilliant side dish.
Pluots are an incredible, juicy little snack that comes from mixing a plum with an apricot. Plums aren’t terribly uncommon, but not a lot of people are familiar with pluots. It’s a shame because they’re easy to carry in a lunch, they’re a little sweet with the benefits of both plums and apricots, and they’re another inexpensive fruit. They might be seasonal depending on where you live. Look for a fruit that’s a little smaller than a plum, and more yellow, in the plum area of your grocery store.
Rutabaga is popular in some countries around the world, but it frequently gets forgotten in the West. With a little bit of a punch like a radish, rutabaga is an awesome root vegetable. If you like the spicy snap of it, eat it as a raw veggie. Another way to enjoy rutabagas is along with other starchy veggies like potatoes, parsnips, and squash in a cold-weather harvest stew.
Many people feel strange about eating cactus, but prickly pear cactus (also known as nopal) tastes great and is so good for you. It can have positive effects on blood sugar and managing diabetes and can help lower cholesterol. Buy it already cleaned as the spines can be difficult to deal with if you’re new to the food, but many average grocery stores, and every Mexican or Hispanic market, carry cleaned nopal ready to cook. Similar in texture to something like a green pepper, nopal is great in dishes like scrambled tofu, or really anything sautéed. It tastes like other green veggies (think green peppers or green beans) with just a little lemony tartness. It goes really well with spicy dishes.
The wonderful world of leafy greens leaves us with plenty of options at pretty much every grocery store, but dandelion greens aren’t something most people eat every day. The green leaves are great in salads and slaws, but they can also be boiled like spinach or sautéed and seasoned. They’re just a little bitter, but fun to try, and you can even forage for them if you’re really up for an adventure.
Want to spice up your veggies? Here are some of our fav spices to cook with.
SHARE: What are some delicious food discoveries you’ve made and put on your grocery list each week?
Vanessa Chamberlin is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach and author of The Fire-Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet. Connect with her on Twitter @vkchamberlin.