We already know there are loads of benefits associated with following a Ketogenic diet, including reducing inflammation, supporting brain health, and stabilizing blood sugar. With its focus on a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb ratio of nutrients, it may even be helpful for those looking to lose weight.
Typically, to keep fat high and carbs low, people focus on a diet very heavy in meat and dairy. The problem what that is keto followers tend to overlook another important part of any healthy weight loss plan: vegetables, which are full of vital nutrients and filling fiber.
There are many top-notch vegetables that will not only help you stay faithful to your keto diet, but also help you reach your health goals. Here are seven all-stars, chosen for their low-carb profile and versatility:
Use this nutritional powerhouse as a leafy base for your shrimp, chicken, or steak salad and you’ll be taking in plenty of vitamins and minerals. Spinach is also the perfect partner for eggs, smoothies, soups, and, of course, hot artichoke dip.
Escarole looks like leafy lettuce but it’s actually a member of the chicory family, which includes frisée, endive, and Belgian endive. Boasting a bitter and earthy flavor, fiber-rich escarole makes a great complement to savory selections, like bacon, grilled meats, and spice-rubbed turkey breast. Saute it with garlic, salt, and pepper for a super-simple side dish. Or, cook the leaves with vegetable stock and tempeh for a hearty soup.
Since crackers and chips are off-limits, how will you scoop up all that wonderful hummus, cream cheese, almond butter, and low-carb salsa? Celery is both low calorie and low carb, but it’s also hefty enough to withstand thick spreads. Experiment to find your favorite filling. Try spicy roasted red pepper dip, herbed cream cheese, or an olive tapenade.
A green summer squash, zucchini is popular as both a side or main course. Got a spiralizer? Create zoodles and use that as a base for spaghetti and meatballs. Make zucchini fries, using almond flour, eggs, onion powder, parmesan, olive oil, and black pepper as a low-carb fry ‘batter’. Or, make zucchini boats, with ground turkey, mushrooms, pasta sauce, and parmesan as the filling.
If you love foods with a peppery bite, radishes will add instant kick to your salads, tacos, and crudités platters. Of all the root vegetables, red radishes have the fewest carbohydrates. If you don’t love the zing of raw radishes, try roasting or pan-frying them and using them as a substitute for potatoes. You can even find radish hash brown recipes on the internet.
Refreshing and irresistibly crunchy, this super green makes a crispy-cool addition to salads and spreads. Cucumbers are also the ideal foundation for finger foods and party dips. Take cucumber slices and top them with herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon for an instantly ‘put-together’ appetizer. Or, create the ultimate Mediterranean spread using diced cucumber, Greek yogurt, onion powder, fresh dill, lemon juice, salt, and minced garlic.
This cruciferous vegetable is incredibly multi-talented. Cauliflower is a tasty, keto-approved substitute for many high-carb comfort foods, like mashed potatoes, rice, and even pizza crust. For cauliflower ‘steak’, start with 2 heads of cauliflower cut into 2-inch slices. Whisk together 3 TBSP olive oil, 4 cloves of minced garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a dash of salt and black pepper, and 1/2 TSP each of dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary, and dried parsley.
Brush the mixture on top of each slice and place on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until golden (for 20 to 25 minutes), turning the slices halfway through. Serve immediately with pesto, chimichurri sauce, or parmesan on top.
Sliced eggplant can be used as a stand-in for pizza crust, toast, or as a foundation for eggs benedict. Roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini makes for a hearty keto dip. And don’t forget all the eggplant parmesan, lasagna, and moussaka recipes out there.
It's much easier than you think to integrate a range of colorful vegetables into a keto diet. It’s also easy to do a keto diet if you're vegan or vegetarian. A high-vegetable version of the keto diet adds flavor, essential nutrients and breaks up the monotony of eating only meat and dairy, day after day. Delicious variety is the key to making any diet stick, and vegetables bring that element, and so much more, to the table.
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