Right about now, post-holiday bloat, we’re all thinking about how to feel, well…better. So how do you get yourself out of a cooking rut AND start (or stay on) your paleo, Whole30, keto or all-around-healthy-eating plan? Look to unusual vegetables that you’ve never heard of (or maybe don’t even know how to pronounce) to add a punch to your weeknight dinner plans.

Whether you’re on a low-carb diet or just want to eat cleaner-ish, trust us when we say by perusing unusual veggies and even exotic produce at the grocery store, you’ll be more creative in the kitchen and avoid that nagging feeling that you might be in the culinary version of “Groundhog Day.” (There are only so many nights we can eat grilled chicken and broccoli, after all). Below, the uncommon vegetables shopping list you should absolutely be pinning.  

Spring Chef Premium Swivel Vegetable Peeler, $7.99 on Amazon

For all your veggie peeling needs!
See It

Jicama

Chowhound

This unusual Mexican root vegetable, often cited as a superfood, is both sweet and starchy. With a consistency similar to a pear or a water chestnut, jicama can be eaten raw. That means this tuber makes a great addition to cold side dishes, like slaws or a fruit salad and is also Whole30 and paleo approved. And because it’s low in carbohydrates, jicama can be used for keto-friendly French fries too.

Romanesco

romanesco

Pixabay

This flower-like member of the broccoli family is so visually stunning it should be the vegetable poster child for all farmer’s market content. It’s almost too beautiful to eat, but because it’s so similar to cauliflower and broccoli in texture, it can be used as a replacement for those two in most recipes. Roasted, pureed, or raw, this veg is a go-to for those sticking to paleo, keto, or Whole30. Heighten your everyday broccoli soup by upgrading to a creamy keto and paleo-friendly Romanesco version instead.

Kohlrabi

Dishing Up the Dirt

Another substitute for the potato, kohlrabi belongs to the same family as cauliflower and kale. You can roast it and serve it alongside salmon or puree it into soups. It’s also on keto, Whole30 and paleo shopping lists. But if you’re feeling like downing a few carbs, try switching up that dated shepherd’s pie by topping it with mashed kohlrabi.

Fennel

Fennel-Apple Slaw

Chowhound

Fair warning: the taste of fennel is a bit shocking, due to its licorice-like flavor. But if you’re into using anise in your dishes, this veggie is for you. Pair fennel with our other uncommon vegetable pal, the jicama, for a flavorful side salad, or make it your main meal by braising it with a fatty pork chop to create an almost candy-like sweet and savory sauce. Despite having a sweet flavor, this polarizing vegetable is compliant with both keto and paleo guidelines.

Parsnips

Chowhound

Parsnips are almost like a larger, white carrot with a sweeter taste. Unlike the carrot however, you must remove the parsnips skin before eating it. Because the parsnip is so sweet, it’s sometimes used in desserts, but it also makes the perfect replacement for carrots in a paleo or Whole30 side dish if you want to switch things up a bit.  

Celeriac

My Fussy Eater

We get it: celeriac (or celery root) isn’t winning any beauty pageants, but trust us when we say this is a root vegetable you’ll want to get to know if you’re following a paleo diet. We like to dress it up as a fake baked potato, but if you have any aversion to a more bitter veggie, this might not be for you.

Sign up for one of these meal kit delivery services and you never know what produce might pop up (but it’ll come with instructions on how to cook it).

Related Video: How to Prepare Fennel

All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission. For more great hand-picked products, check out the Chowhound Shop.

See more articles