Ask a Nutritionist: Experiment With Unusual Fruits and Vegetables

August 19, 2015
by Elissa Goodman for Thrive Market
Ask a Nutritionist: Experiment With Unusual Fruits and Vegetables

I'm nervous to try the stuff at the store that I'm not familiar with because I'm not sure how to cook it, but I'm tired of spinach, corn, and carrots. What new or unusual fruits and vegetables should I try to spice up my diet?

If you’re committed to a healthy lifestyle, you’ve got to get to know all your friends, and those are fruits and vegetables.

A field trip to your farmer’s market is a good place to start. Strike up a conversation with a vendor or local farmer about the different varietals and more unique produce they have available.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Seek out heirloom varietals and fun twists on the classics.

Like cauliflower? Cauliflower is nice, but it’s even better when it’s bright yellow, that brightness indicates cauliflower that is higher in carotenoids and vitamin A than the standard white variety. While you're at it, why not try purple cauliflower? It contains a unique antioxidant also found in red wine, and its unusual hue makes it more impressive on the dinner table.

These little variances in vegetables often also signal boosts in nutritional benefits. Look for some of my favorite heirloom varietals like: dragon tongue beans, watermelon radish, brandywine tomatoes, purple majesty potatoes, and black Mexican sweet corn.

Switch up your salad greens.

Iceberg, butter lettuce, romaine….that’s so last season. Explore baby arugula instead. It’s in the cruciferous family (think kale and broccoli). This green not only has cancer-fighting effects, but also provides six times the amount of vitamin C found in iceberg lettuce. Plus, it lends a fresh peppery bite to any dish. You can also go French with Mache lettuce. Mache is sweet and nutty, good enough to eat on its own with just a splash of oil and vinegar and it’s a good source of B vitamins, as well as vitamins A and C.

Freshen up your fruits.

Check in with your local grocery store's produce manager to ask what’s new, or explore a local Asian marketplace—they're known for offering hard-to-source produce. You will find everything from prickly pears (high in magnesium), to papaya seeds (great in salad dressing), to kumquats (delicious sliced and eaten, skin and all!), to persimmons (wonderful immune system boosters). Go even more tropical by eating a few lychees a day. A handful of these unusual fruit can provide half of your daily recommended vitamin C!

Photo credit: Choo Yut Sing via Flickr

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