Whether it’s your kids who are getting bored or it’s you who just doesn’t feel like packing broccoli in your sealable containers for lunch yet again, sometimes it’s good to switch up your meal preparation ingredients. The same rotation of vegetables every week is not only yawn-worthy, but it might not be giving your family every nutrient they need for a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking to spice up your healthy dishes, try some of these unusual vegetables.
Also known as Jerusalem artichokes (even though they’re not from Jerusalem), sunchokes don’t have a lot in common with those leafy veggies aside from taste. They’re actually the tubers of a certain species of sunflower native to North America, making them a local “exotic.” These root veggies are a great low-starch substitute for potatoes and are rich in thiamin, phosphorus, potassium and iron. Swap them into your favorite potato recipe or make them into crispy chips.
This relative of wild cabbage actually means “cabbage turnip” in German, but it’s part of the kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower family. The roots, bulb, stems and leaves are all edible, making this a versatile addition to any recipe. Cook the greens like you would spinach or kale, and peel the stems and bulb before prepping those. You can eat them raw, if you’d like, which will give you plenty of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, copper and manganese.
Also known as cassava or manioc, yuca is a starchy root vegetable that originated in South America. It's similar to a potato, with the same subtly flavored white flesh inside, but it has more fiber and potassium. Substitute them in your favorite potato recipe or mash them up as a side dish with dinner.
Fiddleheads are some of the weirdest-looking things you'll ever eat, but they're also delicious. They're a traditional New England dish that's sometimes eaten boiled, in a salad or with mayonnaise or butter. Fiddleheads are the furled fronds of baby ferns, and they're not actually cultivated, so you have to find them in season when they're harvested. Fiddleheads are full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants.
Romanesco broccoli, or Roman cauliflower, is a thicker, prettier variety of cauliflower that's native to Italy. It's a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and carotenoids. Steam or boil it like you would a regular cauliflower and relish in its mild, sweet taste.