5 VEGETABLES that you don't want to ignore

It's great to see that kale and broccoli are getting their well deserved appreciation. It's now time to shine the light on five other vegetables that have a smaller following but are due for some of the limelight.

They are scored on a system that looks at cost, availability, storage time, nutritional value, versatility and ease of prep. Score is out of 10. Taste profile wasn't included because that is a personal preference. However, I included either a quick mention of my favourite way to prep the star veg (almost all quick and easy) or a link to a recipe. Here they are:

1/ Cabbage - This veg has so much going for it, I could devote the entire article to its finest qualities. It's versatility (can be eaten raw or cooked), cost, availability, storage time and ease of prep make it numero uno. Cabbage is in the brassica family, the same group as broccoli and kale, which means it shares some of their nutritional benefits of being cancer-fighting, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering (especially when its steamed - the fibre is better able to bind to the bile acids in your intestinal tract, which leads to better excretion of the bile and a lowering of cholesterol). It's not unusual to find it at around 69¢/lb which puts a whole head at a grand total of two to three dollars - not a lot when you consider you can get at least four meals out of it and it stores in the fridge for a long time. Add to that the convenience of this tightly packed vegetables that is protected from the outside environment and needs only a removal of the outer two leaves to be ready for cooking. I routinely include it in my quick lunch choices when I'm working from home. A few chops to serving size, and into the steamer it goes. After it has steamed to a firm softness (8 - 12 minutes), I transfer it to a bowl, toss it with coconut oil and add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. If I'm really feeling ambitious, I'll crack some lightly dry-roasted cumin seeds on top. Great in combo with steaming mates of carrots and garlic gloves. 

Cost  -  10
Availability - 10
Storage time - 10
Nutritional value - 8
Versatility - 10
Ease of prep - 8 (eating it raw requires more time than if you're cooking it)
Total - 56 out of 60


2/ Rutabaga - Following the leafy greens, rutabaga clocks higher in  Vitamin C and calcium than almost any other vegetable. It is a great substitute for potatoes, squash, sweet potato, corn or rice when you're looking for a nutritious starch addition to a meal, at half the calories and carbohydrates and double the fibre. Once you remove that waxy exterior coating (a hot paraffin wax added before storage to preserve the moisture content), you have a sweet delicious interior that is beautiful prepared in a simple way, cubed, then steamed, boiled, roasted or baked with butter or olive oil, lemon juice, fresh ground pepper, sea salt. It can also be mashed and made sweet with the addition of cinnamon, walnuts and honey.

Cost  -  9
Availability - 10
Storage time - 10
Nutritional value - 7
Versatility - 9
Ease of prep - 7
Total - 53 out of 60

 3/ Celery - Everyone knows celery but few appreciate its finest qualities. Its shape lends itself to being a carrier of other foods, such as almond or peanut butter, mashed sardines (blended with olive oil, lemon juice and hot sauce) or soft goat cheese, all which offer an easy to prepare and healthy snack option. Celery aids digestion, reduces appetite, and may be the number one food for reducing high blood pressure. The acetylenics in this vegetable have been shown to stop cancer cells. Celery is not nutritionally void as some might suspect. It is rich in Vitamins A and K1, fibre and potassium and has a good supply of Pantothenic acid and calcium. One word of caution - the Environmental Working Group has listed celery in its Dirty Dozen - those vegetables and fruit that are highest in pesticides - so best to buy it organic whenever possible.

Cost  -  6
Availability - 10
Storage time - 9
Nutritional value - 7
Versatility - 9
Ease of prep - 9
Total - 50 out of 60


4/ Burdock root - This one is a little tougher to find and is generally only available spring and fall, but if you keep your eyes open, you may be blessed to find it in Asian markets (where it is cheap) and health food produce sections (where it is expensive). Either way, I'm thrilled when I spot burdock, as it is one of the earthy delicacies that we love in our house. When I lived in the country we used to go on edible wild adventures to dig it up. The root is buried deep in the ground. However you can spot it above-ground as the plant that has burrs that stick to your clothes when you pass too close to them. Burdock  was in fact the inspiration behind the invention of Velcro. Popular in Asian cuisine, burdock has yet to find its way into the common food culture of North America, despite being worthy. It has an interesting taste profile that is nutty, rich and earthy. It is a traditional herb used for blood cleansing, skin conditions, and as an anti-inflammatory. It is rich in fibre, Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, manganese and essential fats. When shopping for burdock root, look for thinner stalks that are not woody in the center.  

Cost  -  10 (Asian market) or 5 (health food store)
Availability - 5
Storage time - 9
Nutritional value - 7
Versatility - 7
Ease of prep - 6
Total - 44 out of 60

5/ Horseradish - Horseradish has traditionally been used to treat respiratory ailments, as a digestive stimulant, and due to its antibiotic qualities as a treatment for sinusitis, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, and flus. A member of the mustard family as well as the wider family of cruciferous vegetables that cabbage, rutabaga, broccoli and kale belong to, horseradish shares in their anti-cancer and detoxifying benefits. It is one of the richest sources of glucosinates (10X more than what's in broccoli), molecules that increase human resistance to cancer, and which gives horseradish its characteristic hot taste. It is also one of the few vegetables where processing it increases the enzyme availability to stimulate those anti-cancer benefits. Remember that when prepping it, don't inhale too deeply (unless you want to clear your nasal passages) and use gloves. Peel and grate by hand or with a food processor. Add small quantities to salads, cooked vegetable dishes, sausages, steak, oysters, in spicy cocktails (i.e. Caesars). Mix it with vinegar to store as a sauce.

Cost  -  7
Availability - 7
Storage time - 9
Nutritional value - 9
Versatility - 6
Ease of prep - 4
Total - 42 out of 60