As someone focused on a health and fitness goal, you know that eating your vegetables is a must. These foods are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and should be a regular part of your daily meals.

Sadly, many people make the mistake of relying on the same vegetables day after day. Whether you’re a fan of broccoli, opt for asparagus, or salad is your regular side dish, you should change it up from time to time. The wider variety of vegetables you include in your diet, the more nutrient diversity you’ll supply your body.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at four vegetables that are often overlooked, and how you can prepare them to taste great. Try these recipes and you might just find you’re starting to look forward to eating your veggies. 

Pumpkin

When you think of pumpkins, do you automatically think of Halloween? If carving Jack-o’-lanterns is all you’ve done with a pumpkin in the past (apart from ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte in the fall of course!), it may be time to broaden your horizons. Pumpkin is a delicious vegetable that’s relatively low in calories, high in nutrients, and can be used in many different ways. From using it as a main ingredient in a soup, to using it as a base when baking muffins, you’ll never grow bored. 

Pumpkin is an excellent source of dietary fiber, is low in fat and sodium, and provides a great dose of vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. 

Try this delicious pumpkin pancake recipe next time you need something quick for breakfast on the go.

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

1/2 scoop KAGED MUSCLE Vanilla Kasein protein powder

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup egg whites

Cinnamon to taste

Stevia to taste

Sugar-free maple syrup


In a bowl, mix together the protein powder, oats, pumpkin puree, egg whites, cinnamon, and stevia. Heat a non-stick skillet and spray with cooking spray. Over medium heat, pour pancake batter on the skillet in medium-sized discs and cook for 2 minutes or so per side (watch for the edges to start bubbling to know they’re ready to be flipped). Once finished, serve with sugar-free maple syrup and other garnishes as your macros allow. 

Makes 1 serving

Nutritional info (per serving): 231 Calories, 2 g fat, ­­­26 g carb, 29 g protein

Squash

Craving spaghetti but don’t have the carb count for pasta? Not to worry. Spaghetti squash is a lighter version that will satisfy that craving. This squash variety comes out in strands after being cooked, giving the same feeling as spaghetti noodles. Use it as a side dish or under your favorite meat sauce – whatever you prefer.

Spaghetti squash is an excellent source of folate, potassium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. Thanks to this nutritional profile, it can be a great choice for helping to control blood pressure levels and reduce cholesterol. 

Simple Spaghetti Squash Recipe

1 spaghetti squash, sliced in half

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 onion, finely diced

1/2 tbsp. oregano 

Slice a spaghetti squash, spoon out the seeds from the middle, and place the squash on a shallow baking dish with a few tablespoons of water, cut side down. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the rind is soft to the touch.

Let cool. Next, using a fork, scrape out the inside so a stringy texture is achieved.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spaghetti squash, garlic, and diced onion and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes. Top with oregano and serve.  

Makes 1 serving

Nutritional info (per serving): 231 Calories, 15 g fat, ­­­28 g carb, 2 g protein 

Cabbage 

As far as healthy vegetables go, it doesn’t get much better than cabbage. When most people think about cabbage recipes, they think of cabbage soup – something they may have tried to eat while dieting before. But cabbage is a highly versatile vegetable. It can be found in coleslaw, cabbage rolls, or this delicious stir-fry recipe. 

Don’t forget that there are many varieties of cabbage. Red cabbage tends to work best in salads while green cabbage is great for cooking.

Cabbage contains a lot of antioxidants, powerful compounds that help to neutralize free radicals before they cause tissue damage. For this reason, cabbage is an excellent vegetable for helping to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and may also help to reduce your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

Beef and Cabbage Stir-Fry

Sauce:

2 tbsp. natural peanut butter

1 tbsp. orange juice

1/2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce

1/2 tbsp. white vinegar

1/2 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. olive oil

Stir-Fry:

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. sirloin steak, cut into strips

1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 large carrot, grated

Stir together the sauce ingredients until well blended.

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Next, add in the carrot and cabbage and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Stir in the sauce and continue to cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Serve over a bed of rice. 

Makes 2 servings

Nutritional info (per serving): 474.5 Calories, 27.5 g fat, 19 g carb, 41 g protein

Brussels Sprouts

Many people turn their nose up at Brussels sprouts but you’ll want to give this vegetable a second chance for its health promotion abilities. When steamed, they can help lower your cholesterol levels as the fiber compounds bind together with bile acids and lower the total level of cholesterol in your body.

This cruciferous vegetable is also rich in glucosinolates, which may help to provide extra cancer protection as well. Try the recipe below and you may just find yourself looking forward to eating your sprouts.   

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts 

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup water

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. dill, freshly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until sprouts are slightly tender. Add 1/4 cup water and lemon juice and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and then top with garlic and dill. Toss and then serve. 

Makes 2 servings

Nutritional info (per serving): 188.5 Calories, 14 g fat, 14.5 g carb, 5 g protein

Variety is important when looking to provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to perform at its best. Including different vegetables in your plan will ensure your body’s needs are being met, keeping you as healthy as possible as your work towards your fitness goals. Preparing foods in new ways can also help get you excited about your meal plan again. Happy eating!


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