There’s plenty of room for veggies on the keto eating regimen.
If you think that following the keto diet — which is heavy on fats and low on carbs — means you won’t be eating many vegetables, think again. “You can have your kale and keto too,” says Jenna Bell, a registered dietitian based in St. Petersburg, Florida. “A keto lifestyle does not have to be free from the benefits of a plant-based diet.”
Many non-starchy vegetables have a negligible amount of carbohydrates and provide an array of health benefits, she says. It’s also important to remember that a keto diet isn’t carb-free. “A very low-carb keto diet still has at least 20 grams of carbohydrates per day,” Bell says. “In general, keto regimens go up to 100 grams of carbs per day.”
Here are eight keto-friendly vegetables:
Low in calories and carbs, asparagus is an excellent vegetable choice if you’re on the keto diet, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia.
It goes well with high-fat sauces like hollandaise or béarnaise. Asparagus contains vitamins A, C, E and K and folate. It also contains antioxidants and essential minerals. Research suggests that asparagus can help lower blood pressure, and it’s a good source of fiber. “It’s an affordable, easy to prepare and versatile vegetable,” Jones says.
If you’re looking for a keto-friendly vegetable that provides an array of health benefits, try broccoli, Jones says.
Broccoli is high in fiber and is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Research suggests the vegetable may promote heart health, support your immune system and reduce inflammation.
“Broccoli can be steamed, drizzled in cheese sauce, baked au gratin and roasted with bacon,” Jones says. Use it as a side dish instead of pasta, potatoes or rice for a low-carb meal.
Like broccoli, cauliflower is versatile and contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, says Stephanie Laska, co-author of “THE DIRTY, LAZY, KETO Cookbook.” She’s based in Turlock, California.
“It’s an inexpensive, versatile vegetable that can take on the flavor of a dish it’s part of or stand tall on its own,” Laska says.
There are a number of ways to prepare and serve cauliflower, including:
“One of my favorite ways to prepare cauliflower is also one of the easiest,” Laska says. Toss cauliflower florets with melted, unsalted butter, olive oil and salt and pepper onto a pan and roast for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pull the florets out of the oven and dust them with Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes, then roast for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
If you like spicy foods, coat the roasted cauliflower with Buffalo sauce or Cajun seasonings or toss it with store-bought pesto sauce.
Cauliflower tater tots
“Sometimes we have to fool ourselves into eating healthy,” Laska says. “I like to call my keto vegetables by clever names to trick myself into eating them more often. Even my picky-eater kids will ask for seconds of tater tots made from riced cauliflower.”
They’re easy to make: Form balls made of riced cauliflower, egg, shredded mozzarella and garlic. Fry in avocado oil until they’re browned on all sides, and sprinkle with some salt.
Radish hash browns
Radishes are very low in carbs and can be prepared in a variety of tasty ways. The vegetable contains just 2 grams of net carbs per cup.
To make radish hash browns, shred 2 pounds of radishes, squeeze out the extra moisture they contain and then sauté the vegetable in oil over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Combine the cooked radishes with a whisked egg, salt and pepper and form into small patties. Cook the patties in the hot skillet for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until they’re solid and brown.
“The hash browns are delicious served with a Western omelet or on their own with a sprinkle of shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream,” Laska says.
Popeye the sailor man — the popular cartoon mariner who was on the air in the early 1960s — loved spinach because it provides iron, which made his muscles bulge whenever he faced off against adversaries. If you’re on the keto regimen and eat generous amounts of animal products, you may not think that eating spinach is a priority.
However, besides providing iron, spinach is great for people on the keto regimen because it contains alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that research suggests may be associated with blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity, Bell says. It may be especially beneficial for people with diabetes because it reduces oxidative damage associated with the disease.
“Spinach fits in many meals, raw or cooked,” Bell says. “When it’s raw, it gives a mild, almost sweet flavor; cooked from fresh or frozen tends to be a bit more acidic. Hence, raw works well for keto-eaters in a salad or smoothie. Cooked, it can be as simple as a butter and garlic sauté or in an omelet or soup.”
Technically, tomato is a fruit, but many people consider it to be a vegetable.
Tomatoes can help you enjoy some of the flavors of high-carb comfort foods — like pasta or pizza — that you wouldn’t consume on the keto regimen.
One cup of tomatoes has about 7 grams of carbohydrates and 2.2 grams of fiber. Tomatoes provide phytonutrientlike lycopene and plenty of potassium.
To use tomatoes as an Italian-keto fix, sauté them and add Parmesan cheese. Or, serve them raw with basil and mozzarella. You could also poach eggs in a pan of chopped tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, topped with Parmesan cheese.
Like the tomato, zucchini is technically a fruit, though it’s widely considered a vegetable for culinary purposes, Jones says. Zucchini is a great low-carb alternative to pasta and potatoes. The vegetable contains just 3 grams of digestible carbs per 1 cup serving. Zucchini contains an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Eating zucchini provides a raft of health benefits, including:
— Healthy digestion.
— Lower blood pressure.
— Stabilized blood sugar.
— Healthy vision.
Zucchini is also very versatile. You can use zucchini in:
— Baked goods.
To recap, here are eight keto-friendly vegetables:
— Cauliflower tater tots.
— Radish hash browns.
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