After years of recipe development, you’d think I’d be sick of cooking with vegetables by now. But let me tell you, I am more grateful every day for vegetables in my life and kitchen! They are the backbone of my cooking life. Without them, I’d be lost.
The biggest tip I give to people new to the world of cooking for food allergies (or just cooking for health) is this: Learn to love vegetables. Anyone can.
Yep, ANYONE can learn to love vegetables. Maybe not all vegetables, but many. I think most people who don’t like vegetables simply haven’t had them prepared very well. Someone came to one of my cooking classes a long time ago and claimed that they hated (really, really hated) beets. Somehow I got them to try a bite of the raw kale and beet salad we made that night. They became a beet lover on the spot. Turns out they’d only had mushy pickled beets growing up. No wonder they hated them!
Vegetables are the foundation of a healthy, allergy-friendly diet. I love them all. But a few stand-outs have become my go-to options over the years. These are the five vegetables that have a near-constant presence in the fridge. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to vegetables, start with these.
Okay, okay. I put these on the same line because I often use them interchangeably, so technically this list of five just turned into a list of six. More to love!
Why I love them: Kale and cabbage are cruciferous nutritional powerhouses packed with cancer-fighting compounds that detoxify the body. They also don’t get soggy when dressed, making them great for salads. And they don’t get mushy in soup. AND they last forever in the fridge.
How I use them: You name it, I’ve done it. Seriously, I’ve put kale in homemade ice cream to turn it green. Worked great. A few of my favorites:
- Raw Power Salad
- Green Goddess Kale Slaw
- Essential Summer Slaw
- Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Apples, and Kale
Why I love it: Another cruciferous giant, cauliflower is one of the few vegetables I didn’t like at first but have come around to love. It’s versatile, nutrient-dense, and easy to find in any grocery store.
How I use it: The main way is cooking it up in my morning breakfast skillet. Boring but it’s the truth. Also: cauliflower rice, the craze that has taken the food world by storm. I’m sure you’ve heard of it so I won’t rehash the concept here. Just google ‘cauliflower rice’ and you’ll get 28,700,000 results in 1.4 seconds (not joking). I love these two recipes:
Why I love them: Truth be told, I’ve never understood the appeal of regular potatoes when you can have sweet potatoes! They’re sweeter, easier to caramelize, and—in my opinion—WAY more versatile. They keep well in storage, are a great food for babies/toddlers, and offer a good source of carby energy that’s not grain-based.
How I use them: Again, I’ll give you the boring answer: I chop them and roast them with oil and salt. Done. It’s boring but practical. Keeping a tub of roasted sweet potato cubes in the fridge means I can add them to anything I want (salads, breakfast skillets, just grabbing some for a snack, you get the idea). Some Daily Bites favorites:
- Beets n’ Sweets Kale Salad
- Southwestern Sweet Potato Skins
- Broccoli and Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Why I love them: You can get them anywhere, use them in anything, and almost everyone will eat them. Enough said.
How I use them: How don’t I use them?! Carrots go in everything around here: grated in salads, steamed for breakfast, sliced and dipped in guacamole, thrown in soups and stews, julienned or shredded for slaws, roasted as fries…the list goes on. My mom even made a carrot top pesto the other day using the greens. Recipe ideas:
- Roasted Carrot, Lentil, and Sunflower Salad
- Carrot Raisin Salad with Lemon and Garlic (super old and majorly needs a new photograph but a great salad!)
Why I love them: They’re actually a fruit and not a vegetable but I’m tossing them on this list because they ARE MY LIFE. I’m exaggerating. But not by much! Now that I’m not eating many nuts or seeds, avocados are my go-to fat choice. They go everywhere, in everything. Even in my purse with a spoon when I’m out and about.
How I use them: As a topping, as a snack, to make smoothies creamy, as a dip base, in salad dressings—let’s just go to the recipes:
- Low Glycemic Green Smoothie
- Mint Chip Smoothie
- Light and Easy Avocado Dip
- Green Goddess Kale Slaw
- Radiant Glow Antioxidant Smoothie
Tell me: what are the five vegetables you can’t live without? Comment below and let us know!