7 Veggies You Didn't Know You Can Eat Raw

Brussels sprouts don't need to be cooked, after all. Who knew?Brussels sprouts don't need to be cooked, after all. Who knew?Now that spring is in full swing, the sunny season of super-fresh veggies is all around us, and local produce is easy to snag at your local farmers market, grocery store, or farmstand. With that amazing produce, you're surely making plenty of healthy, colorful veggie salads and appetizers. But there are a few veggies that you may always think to immediately cook - when actually they are quite delicious eaten raw! The best part about raw preparations is that you get to skip a step (cooking) so your food is on the table faster. Cheers to easy! Here are 7 veggies you may have never tried eating raw - that are all stocked full of healthy nutrients.

1. Beets
Beets are usually roasted or boiled into tender, plump, sweet bits. But raw beets are delicious and filled with nutrients, including vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. Raw beets are great shaved very thin or grated into thin strips (as you might serve carrots in a salad) and have a sweet flavor and crisp texture.

2. Asparagus
I never knew you could eat asparagus raw until I tried it recently. A sweet lady at the farmer's market told me that her freshly cut asparagus was delicious served raw! So I went home, took a big bite out of the tip of a spear, and wow! It was tender yet crisp and had a bright, refreshing, grassy flavor. Plus, asparagus is one of the richest sources of the nutrients thiamin (which is a great energy booster) and rutin (which strengthens capillary walls and boosts heart health). Asparagus spears can be thinly shaved or sliced into a raw salad, or served alongside carrot sticks as vehicles for dip.

3. Zucchini

Zucchini is one of those veggies that you may not be excited about trying uncooked, as it has a very mellow, bland flavor. But the trick to raw zucchini is not the flavor - it's the texture. You can slice it into very thin strips to use as gluten-free "lasagna" noodles or cut it into skinny "noodles" for a veggie fettuccine. Raw zucchini is also great diced or grated into salads because it absorbs dressings, sauces, and flavors very well. Besides, what's not to love about a vegetable that has only 18 calories per cup and gives you a hefty helping of potassium and fiber?!

Related: 20 delicious salads hearty enough for tonight's dinner

4. Corn

Fresh corn has a sweet, perky, and almost nutty flavor with a juicy, tender texture. The fresh kernels, high in vitamin B6 and magnesium, almost "pop" in your mouth with juicy sweetness - pun intended. Toss uncooked corn in salads or salsas, but be sure to use only fresh corn for the best flavor.

5. Kale
If you've only ever cooked kale, it's time to try a new, raw preparation. Uncooked kale has a great texture with a very appealing flavor and is loaded with nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin K, fiber, and more. My favorite way to serve raw kale is to marinate the leaves with dressing. I usually use a tahini-based dressing: tahini + maple syrup + apple cider vinegar + salt/pepper. Any additional spices are up to you. Add a splash of oil or some mashed avocado to your dressed kale salad.

6. Cauliflower

Cauliflower, rich in vitamin C and vitamin K, may remind you of a bad veggie platter at a boring office party, but uncooked cauliflower can be quite delicious. The key is to use those tender heads and not as much of the tough stems. If you finely chop raw cauliflower, it takes on a rice or quinoa-like texture, while managing to be quite buttery. So you can season it in the same way you do rice or cooked florets.

Related: 17 recipe tweaks to make meals healthier


7. Brussels Sprouts
Okay … confession … I have not tried raw Brussels sprout salad, but I have a trusted friend who swears it's amazing. And with raw Brussels sprouts providing a healthy dose of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, I'm willing to give 'em a try. So for the adventurous out there, give my friend Gena's raw Brussels sprout salad a whirl and tell me what you think!

- By Kathy Patalsky
Follow Kathy on Babble

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