Are you trying to eat more veggies this year? If you are on a keto or Paleo diet, you know satisfaction can be hard to find with low-carb veggies. But let’s change that right here and now. Non-starchy vegetables are delicious, packed with nutrients, and won’t affect your blood sugar as high-starch veggies can.
Vegetables are a healthy-eating requirement because they ensure you are getting a well-rounded sampling of nutrients. The 18 vegetables on the list below are low in calories and carbohydrates, high in dietary fiber, and full of vitamins, minerals, and health-boosting phytochemicals and antioxidants.
What Do Starchy Vegetables Do to Your Body?
Starchy vegetables are more than welcome on your plate when they are eaten in moderation. However, starchy veggies like white potatoes, parsnips, plantains, green peas, and corn can raise blood sugar levels, and they aren’t appropriate if you are following a low-carb diet.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends eating at least three to five servings a day of non-starchy vegetables to keep you full and satisfied and your blood sugar levels steady. Three to five servings may sound like a lot, but the ADA notes that a “serving” is 1 cup of raw or a 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables.
Healthiest Non-Starchy Vegetables
Low-carb veggies contain vital nutrients and health benefits, and if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet or a weight-loss plan, non-starchy veggies are your friend! The veggie list below can help you feel fuller longer and suppress your appetite. And each of these 18 carb-friendly veggies is loaded with much-needed nutrients for good health.
- Asparagus: A low-calorie food rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Brussels sprouts: A cruciferous vegetable loaded with vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, and manganese.
- Broccoli: Another cruciferous vegetable that is bursting with vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants that fight free radicals.
- Bean sprouts: Sprouted from the mung bean, bean sprouts are highly digestible and rich in folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.
- Beets: A non-starchy vegetable that grows underground but is relatively high in carbohydrates, beets are loaded with phytonutrients and fiber, and their glycemic load is low, which means they won’t adversely affect your blood sugar. Add fresh beets and beet greens to ease inflammation and encourage weight loss.
- Cauliflower: This non-starchy veggie is a good source of antioxidants, and cauliflower is a keto dieter’s dream! It can quickly morph into cauliflower “rice,” pizza crust, and other low-carb staples while providing vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.
- Celery: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and fiber, celery is also loaded with vitamin K, flavonols, quercetin, phytosterols, and phenolic acids that decrease oxidative damage and inflammatory reactions.
- Daikon radish: This pungent radish is low in carbs and high in fiber. Daikons are a good source of potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.
- Eggplant: A member of the nightshade family, eggplant is low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat, and rich in potassium and dietary fiber.
- Kohlrabi: Shaped like a bulb with beautiful green fronds, kohlrabi is similar in look to fennel. But kohlrabi tastes nothing like fennel. Instead, it resembles the stem of broccoli or jicama. Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C—just 1 cup contains 140% of the daily value!
- Leafy greens: Kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, bok choy, and other leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamins K, A, C, and fiber, with healthy doses of amino acids.
- Artichokes: One medium-sized artichoke provides 10.3 grams of dietary fiber. Artichokes and artichoke hearts are also good sources of vitamin B12, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, and manganese, and they are an excellent low-carb veggie for the ketogenic diet.
- Tomatoes: Technically a fruit, not a vegetable, we’ve added tomatoes to our list of healthy non-starchy veggies for simplicity’s sake. Tomatoes are mostly fiber and water, and they are low in calories and starch. They are prized for their high levels of lycopene, a phytochemical known for protecting prostate health and possessing the potential to protect against cancer.
- Bell peppers: Available in green, yellow, red, and orange, bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and other vital nutrients. In fact, just 1 cup of chopped green bell peppers contains 200% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, making them a top vitamin C food!
- Green beans: There are hundreds of varieties of green beans, including Kentucky Wonders, Jade, Blue Lake, Dragon Tongue, and Yardlong, just to name a few. Green beans are a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and folate, and they are available fresh, year-round in most areas.
- Summer squash: The two most popular types of summer squash are yellow-neck and zucchini. Both of these squash varieties are low in calories and powerhouses of nutrition. Zucchini is bursting with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
- Sugar snap peas: Sugar snap peas, snow peas, and pea pods are packed with dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Peas are naturally sweet, so if you are watching your carbs, limit your serving size.
- Spaghetti squash: The perfect pasta replacement in Italian dishes, spaghetti squash is low in calories and contains far fewer carbohydrates than pasta does.
A quick note about canned vegetables vs. fresh or frozen: if you have high blood pressure, it is safer to choose frozen and fresh vegetables over canned vegetables because of the added salt in canned varieties.
Creative Recipes for Non-Starchy Vegetables
Are you ready to add non-starchy vegetables to your diet? Here are our favorite creative and healthy recipes containing some of the best non-starchy vegetables to work into your meal plan.
For breakfast or as a mid-morning pick-me-up, slurp up this delicious smoothie ripe with beets, dragon fruit, bananas, bee pollen, and your favorite non-dairy milk. Beets are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants that protect your body against free radicals—and they may just be the tastiest non-starchy vegetable on the list.
Vegan friends—rejoice! This recipe features one of the most versatile non-starchy vegetables: zucchini. Zucchini is the quintessential chameleon vegetable that adapts to any cuisine beautifully. And if you love pasta with a creamy sauce, you’ll dig the secret ingredient—cashew cheese. If you are gluten-free, this recipe is a natural fit for using zoodles!
Half Baked Harvest takes two of our favorite non-starchy vegetables—spaghetti squash and cauliflower—and whips them up into a crave-worthy meal. The “Alfredo” sauce contains coconut milk, cashews, aromatics, nutritional yeast, herbs, and eggs, if you desire, to top the low-carb spaghetti squash noodles. We guarantee this recipe will become a household favorite after just one bite.
The non-starchy vegetables spinach and artichokes are a match made in heaven. And when these two veggies are partnered with quinoa, aromatics, cheese, milk, and breadcrumbs, the result is a decadent tasting, stick-to-your-ribs dish demanded at every family gathering. This inspired recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod is a healthful twist on spinach artichoke dip, with the quinoa adding fiber and protein to make this a quick and easy supper.
This recipe from Bon Appetit artfully marries cucumber, Swiss chard, herbs, and lentils into a delicious dish perfect for a light dinner. The lentils and poached eggs bring protein to the party, but the big stars are the low-carb veggies loaded with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
After you try this vegan-friendly recipe, you will be relieved that it is always cauliflower season! Cauliflower is an interesting non-starchy vegetable that takes on surrounding flavors well—but it also retains a texture reminiscent of a steak. This recipe from Bon Appetit roasts the cauliflower and then tops it with a zingy tahini sauce and a walnut-forward salsa. The result of this unique combination is quite delightful and satisfying.
Zucchini is one of the most versatile non-starchy vegetables that adapts to whatever recipe it is thrown into. From Veggie Inspired comes this healthy twist on an enchilada that uses your favorite tortilla to wrap the delicious combination of beans and veggies inside. This healthy twist ingeniously employs white beans, salsa, and spices to create a healthy sauce for a protein-rich enchilada recipe. On a crisp winter’s evening, few things can beat this rich and warm vegan-friendly enchilada recipe that is tangy, hearty, and quite simply delicious.
We aren’t going to lie—crispy asparagus covered in panko and parmesan is our new favorite snack and side dish. And thanks to the Cozy Apron, we can make these non-starchy vegetable treats anytime we have a craving. If you are gluten-free, swap out the panko for chopped pistachios or gluten-free breadcrumbs. Trust us, these asparagus spears are worth being noted in your food journal as a “splurge.”
Do you crave the creamy and rich tomato soup from your childhood? Try this recipe from the Ambitious Kitchen! Make no mistake, this is a sophisticated soup that is bursting with flavor and nutrients. And this delicious tomato soup is low carb and vegan when you use coconut milk or another non-dairy milk.