Sick of tossing broccoli and carrots into every stir-fry and grabbing your go-to green apple when you want a healthy afternoon snack?
Tap into your adventurous produce-eating side with a little help from Cornell University’s Vegetable program, which aims to bring lesser-known ethnic veggie options into local markets—and onto your plate. “We’re helping farmers test out different varieties of typically unknown crops and in turn, providing familiar food for our international population and exciting new options for locals,” says Robert Hadad, Fresh Market Specialist at Cornell.
Regardless of where you live, you can take a hint from this initiative and get inspired to try something new: “Breaking out of your produce rut is not only good for surprising and exciting your taste buds, but also your body in general,” says Lindsey Toth, R.D.
When you eat the same things day in and day out, you miss out on a wide variety of health and beauty-boosting nutrients you could be getting from a more varied diet. Another bonus: Supporting smaller farmers who grow new crops helps spur local agriculture. Win-win!
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These fruits and vegetables may not sound familiar, but you should give them a try if you get the chance (and if you like them, make sure you tell the grower or market owner).
This dark green leafy vegetable is grown mainly in Japan, Taiwan and Korea. Komatsuna is great for stir-fries and can be chopped into salad mixes, says Robert Hadad, Fresh Market Specialist at Cornell. It’s high in vitamins A and C and packed with calcium.
A type of kale that looks like small broccoli (it’s commonly known as “Chinese Broccoli”), this Asian vegetable is high in vitamins A and C.
Break away from traditional citrus and grab these in-season oranges instead. “They pack more vitamin C than any other citrus out there, with one medium orange containing 130 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C,” says Lindsey Toth, R.D. “They’re also the only citrus that has anthocyanin, one of the most powerful antioxidants.”
These beans are similar to asparagus (hence the name) in texture and flavor and provide quite the array of nutrition benefits: They’re a great source of vitamin C, folate and magnesium. Yardlong beans are also a good way to get more protein, vitamin A, iron and potassium into your diet.
The juneberry—also known as a “saskatoon berry”—is a dark-colored fruit with a flavor similar to dark cherries or raisins (and a hint of almond in the seed). These little berries contain high levels of protein, calcium, iron and antioxidants, according to Cornell University experts.
A German and Eastern European vegetable that has a slightly stronger flavor than regular parsley, parsley root is very flavorful, great for stews and filled with potassium, says Hadad. Fun fact: As the weather gets colder, the root will taste sweeter.
A relative of celery and typically grown in France and Eastern Europe, this large knobby-looking root is filled with fiber and vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium. And it won’t go bad quickly like some fruits and veggies—celeriac keeps well in cold storage all winter.
Related to the cabbage, this veggie looks like a bulb at the base of a plant. And yet you might feel like you’re eating a fruit because the flesh is very sweet and almost pear-like, says Hadad. Kohlrabi is full of vitamin C, as well as B vitamins and minerals.
The white inside of this otherwise bland-looking brown veggie is starting to get more popular in the restaurant industry, says Hadad. Salsify used to be called “oyster plant” because the inside part has a hint of oyster, which gives it a unique taste.
Also known as Portuguese kale, this dark leafy green is full of minerals. Tronchuda kale is traditionally cooked with a soup made with beans and sausage. That’s why pork producers are selling it at farmer’s markets along with sausage, explains Hadad.
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