5 Unique Foods You NEED to Try August 5, 2016
Share the produce love to the unsung heroes of the vegetable world by giving these five unique foods a try.
Today, we’re pushing you far out of your produce comfort zone. Because however much we love the classics, there’s a whole world of colorful and unique foods out there begging for your attention at the grocery store. And as Rebecca, our head dietitian and veg-head reminds us, “the more colorful a fruit or vegetable is, the more nutrient dense it is.”
Here’s the lowdown on the nutritional benefits of eating the rainbow:
- Red foods contain lycopene, a phytochemical that helps protect against breast and prostate cancers.
- Orange foods are loaded with beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A to keep the immune system, eyes, and bones healthy.
- Green foods contain isothiocyanates, a compound that helps prevent cancer and clears toxins from the body.
- Blue and purple foods are chock-full of heart-healthy antioxidants that also work wonders for your brain.
Don’t worry, we won’t make you say a tearful goodbye to your tried-and-true favorites forever – just a “see ya later” as you venture for a bit into the colorful world of unique foods. Here are some suggestions:
1. If you like carrots, try parsnips!
Appearance: Parsnips, which belong to the carrot family (and are also closely related to parsley) have a creamy white skin and thick stump which thins out towards the end.
Taste: The first frost of the year converts the parsnip’s starch to sugar and gives it a pleasantly sweet flavor similar to that of carrots. However, unlike their orange counterparts, parsnips boast an earthier, nuttier flavor.
How to prepare: Parsnips can be baked, boiled, sauteed, or steamed.
Season: These root vegetables are available year round but peak during the fall and winter seasons.
Fun Fact: Europeans brought the parsnip to the US in the early 1600s.
Recipe: Turkish Lamp Meatballs with Herby Couscous and Parsnip Carrot Sauce
2. If you like normal potatoes, try Jerusalem artichokes!
Appearance: These lumpy, light brown-skinned tubers bear a resemblance to ginger. However, they have a slightly pink hue.
Taste: Jerusalem artichokes have a nutty and slightly crunchy taste reminiscent of artichokes. They contain far less starch than traditional potatoes.
How to prepare: Prepare these bad boys just like you would normal potatoes. Roast, boil, bake, steam, or saute with or without the skin. Feel free to also toss them raw into salads for a delicate bite.
Season: Although they are available year-round, the peak season for Jerusalem artichokes spans from October to March.
Fun Fact: Despite their name, Jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes, have nothing at all to do with Jerusalem and are not, in fact, artichokes. Rather, this tuber is a type of sunflower and received its name from the Italian word for the plant, “girasole.”
3. If you like sweet potatoes, try purple sweet potatoes!
Appearance: As the name suggests, purple sweet potatoes are a stunning shade of magenta that intensifies when cooked.
Taste: Purple sweet potatoes have a denser and richer taste than their orange counterparts but are still just a sweet as the ones we’ve come to know and love.
How to prepare: Prepare purple potatoes exactly how you would orange ones. The only difference? Their dense flesh takes a bit longer to cook. For the best result, scrub the skin before wrapping it up tight in aluminum foil. Place on a baking tray and bake at 350 degrees for around 1.5 hours.
Season: Get these beauties at the peak of their season from September to April.
Fun Fact: Sweet potatoes aren’t actually potatoes! They’re one of the few edible plants within the morning glory family of flowering plants.
4. If you like broccoli, try purple and orange cauliflower!
Appearance: Purple cauliflower gets its vibrant hue from anthocyanin, an antioxidant also found in red cabbage, blueberries, and red wine. The color of orange cauliflower comes from a genetic mutation that allows it to retain more beta carotene. Both varieties have the same firmness and texture as their white counterpart.
Taste: Although orange cauliflower is dubbed “cheddar” cauliflower, it tastes nothing like cheese and instead boasts a mild, creamy, and slightly sweet flavor. Similarly, purple cauliflower is mild and slightly sweet with a subtle nutty bite.
How to prepare: It’s easy! Prepare colored cauliflower just like you would white cauliflower by roasting, steaming, mashing or – our personal favorite – ricing!
Season: Look out for colored cauliflower during the fall months.
Fun Fact: Its name comes from the Latin caulis (stalk) and floris (flower).
5. If you like red radishes, try horseradish!
Appearance: Horseradish, which is related to mustard, cabbage, and broccoli, is cultivated primarily for its tapered roots. Although the rough exterior is brown, the inside is creamy white.
Taste: This root has a powerful and pungently spicy flavor.
How to prepare: Simply cut off the brown peel before shredding or grating it into sauces or condiments for fish and roasted meat. Be aware, though, that once it’s exposed to air, horseradish will darken in color, lose its pungent flavor, and become overly bitter.
Season: This unique root is at its best in the fall and winter; however, it stores well into the spring.
Fun Fact: Ironically enough, horseradish is poisonous to horses!
Looking for more unique foods to try? We’ve got you covered with these turmeric and honey skyr pancakes.
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