“Eat the rainbow” seems like sound advice. On the basis of research noting the health benefits of pigment-rich foods, dietitians, physicians, and teachers have been advocating consumption of colorful vegetables and fruits for as long as we can remember. But what about our colorless friends like cauliflower, endive, onion, garlic, fennel, and jicama? Even though they’re short on color, these vegetables are still great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals, active compounds found in plants that may have health benefits:
In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, folate, fiber and B vitamins, cauliflower is rich in phytochemicals such as carotenoids, phenolic compounds, glucosinolates, and flavonoids. These phytochemicals may act as antioxidants in reducing oxidative stress in the body, which is associated with many chronic diseases. To serve cauliflower, chop into florets and roast with olive oil and spices like we did in this recipe for Tandoori Roasted Cauliflower.
Endive, a member of the chicory family, is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, some B vitamins, fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, and more. Because of its slightly bitter taste, it is best served with other ingredients. When separated, the leaves of the endive serve as “chips” – the perfect vehicle for hummus, guacamole, or other spreads. Endive is also delicious when chopped up in a salad. When roasted or braised, endive develops a sweeter and less bitter flavor.
Onion and Garlic
Onion and garlic, members of the allium family, are rich in the sulfur-containing phytochemicals that may confer health benefits. These ingredients are extremely versatile and can be enjoyed in many dishes such as soups, stir-fries, sautéed or roasted vegetables, and sauces. For anyone following a low-FODMAP diet, choose garlic-infused olive oil and scallion greens as allium substitutes.
Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber and potassium. Fennel is also rich in flavonoids that may have antioxidant properties. Its unique licorice flavor is strong when consumed raw but mellows significantly when cooked. Tasty ways to enjoy fennel include shaved in salads, braised with chicken, and roasted or grilled with other vegetables. Try this simple recipe for Roasted Tomatoes with Fennel.
Also known as a Mexican turnip, jicama is a white, crunchy root vegetable. Described by some as a savory apple, jicama is an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. Although it may be unfamiliar to many, jicama is juicy, crisp, and nutrient-dense and can be consumed cooked or raw. Once peeled with a chef’s knife, raw jicama can be added to salads, slaws, or a crudité platter. Jicama can also be chopped and added to stir-fries.
While these white/tan vegetables don’t earn a spot on the rainbow, they certainly win a prize for nutrient density. Be sure to include them with a variety of other plant foods to create a plate that has a palette Monet would admire.