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6 Plant-Based Recipes to Make You Fall in Love With Vegetables

These whole foods plant-based recipes for tomato soup, edamame and more are delicious and nutritious ways to bring more vegetables into your life.

Full disclosure: I love vegetables. Love, love, love them. Would I rather eat a spoonful of melted cheese than a giant bowl of kale? Sure. But vegetables have so much to offer, with all their colors and flavors and textures: bright or soft; loud or quiet; tender or creamy or crunchy, depending on how, or whether, you cook them. And maybe it’s the power of suggestion or the real power of vegetables, but I feel great after I eat a big plateful of something plant-based. It’s like a kind of vegetal high. Which I want to share with you here.

Are these your typical plain, boring vegetable recipes? They’re not. They’ve got cheese, butter, sour cream, more cheese. So they’re delicious enough that you can get more of those veggies into yourself and your loved ones – which is so important! In fact, when the American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises what to eat with diabetes and prediabetes, it emphasizes the benefits of eating more non-starchy vegetables such as zucchini, cauliflower, kale, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, and more. This is also very much in line with diaTribe’s nutrition guidelines, because vegetables are really kind of the best, nutritionwise. (There are also recent studies that suggest plant-focused diets are good for type 1 diabetes, too.)

Besides making sure to add plenty of yum, ingredients-wise, there are other important principles to keep in mind, like starting with vegetables that are as fresh and enticing as possible. (Save whatever’s aging in the crisper drawer for compost bins or goats.) And make sure to season them well. Taste the vegetables before you serve them, especially if a dish has been sitting at room temperature for a while. Sometimes the flavor kind of evaporates, and you may need to amp it up a little. If it’s not absolutely craveably delicious, then figure out what else it might need. Salt? A little more butter or cheese? A squeeze of lemon? A grinding of black pepper? Add it!

And then let the magic begin.

How to prepare basic edamame

1. Basic Edamame

Edamame – the simple Japanese dish of soybeans served steamed in their pods – is an ideal way to get plant-based protein, fiber, and minerals like calcium. They belong to the class of foods that I used to call, when my own kids were little, “busytown vegetables,” because they’re so tasty and fun to eat. They’re a perfect stand-in for less nutritious snack foods such as chips or buttered popcorn when watching a movie.

Get the recipe for how to cook and eat frozen edamame.


Diabetes Friendly Kale Slaw

2. Double-Crunch Kale Slaw

Toasted almonds and crisp apples bring their best, crunchy selves to a giant bowlful of lemony, garlicky, toothsome kale.

Even if the individual ingredients don’t sing to you, just try it; I assure you there’s a high chance you’ll discover you like it.

Get the recipe for Double-Crunch Kale Slaw.


Low Carb Tomato Soup Recipe

3. Tomato Soup

Pretty, creamy, tangy, and rich, tomato soup is a comforting classic for a reason. There are endless ways to make this recipe your own. Two favorites of mine are adding a sliced-up head of fennel to the pot when I’m sautéing the other vegetables, or adding something smoky, such as puréed chipotles in adobo or smoked paprika. And would a little grated cheddar hurt any? I happen to know it would not. You’ll see in the recipe a note about adding a tiny pinch of baking soda if the soup tastes too acidic; you won’t need it unless your tomatoes are really not sweet, but it’s nice to have a more diabetes-friendly option than adding sugar.

Get the recipe for this endlessly adaptable tomato soup.

Low-Carb Broccoli Cheddar Soup4. Low-Carb Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This is my daughter’s favorite soup by a landslide. I’m convinced it’s because the combination of broccoli and cheese makes it less like soup and more like a decadent casserole.

While conventional broccoli and cheese soup often contains starchy binders, this diabetes-friendly version omits them, making it a carb-conscious comfort food. Don’t worry; it’s still plenty thick, thanks to the abundance of broccoli and cheese.

Get the recipe for Low-Carb Broccoli Cheddar Soup.


Cheesy Baked Cauliflower Recipe

5. Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

Cheesy and rich, this cauliflower version of mac and cheese will impress even the greatest of vegetable haters. As an added bonus, it’s full of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate from the cauliflower, and it’s very low-carb (each serving contains 7 grams of carbohydrates). Note that while this baked dish is soft and pleasing, it doesn’t have the same chew as pasta, so you and your family may just want to call it what it really is: cheesy cauliflower. As far as the cheese is concerned, make sure it’s a sharp version of cheddar for the most robust flavor.

Get the recipe for low-carb cheesy baked cauliflower.

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash Recipe

6. Low-Carb Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Mild spaghetti squash is naturally low in carbs and lends itself well to rich sauces. Try it in a baked pasta-style dish reminiscent of macaroni and cheese.

Everybody in my family is surprised by how much they like this outrageously rich and decadent pasta-style dish. While I love this particular combination of cheeses, the recipe is easily doubled and quite adaptable: If you’re looking to lower the fat, use less cheese and evaporated milk; to reduce the sodium, skip the salt. The variations are endless.

Get the recipe for Low-Carb Cheesy Spaghetti Squash.

Photo credits: iStock (top photo, edamame); Catherine Newman (all other photos).