When it comes to food, we hear it time and again: eat the rainbow, avoid white foods. When I began my quest to eat healthier, the first thing I did was remove white foods from my diet but not all white foods, just the processed and refined ones. I stopped buying white sugar and white flour and opted for more natural and whole-grain foods. But many people think avoiding white means cutting out all white foods including rice and potatoes.
The truth is that there are many white foods that are really good for us. Sure, we should “eat the rainbow” and if you’re looking to add more colorful foods to your diet, check out Eat the Colors of the Rainbow With These Clean-Eating Recipes, How Eating the Rainbow Can Help Protect Against Cancer, and Eating the Rainbow: Why Eat a Variety of Colorful Fruits and Vegetables? But before you judge a food by its color, read on to learn why white foods are also healthy and delicious choices.
1. Health Benefits of White Foods
White foods contain lots of nutrients that we need in our diets. These include anthoxanthins which help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and sulfur which detoxifies our liver and help with protein structure and skin health. White foods may also contain allicin which has anti-tumor properties and quercetin which has anti-inflammatory properties. The only white foods we should avoid are processed, refined ones. So which white foods are the healthy ones? Healthy white foods include those which are tan or brown on the outside and white on the inside such as pears, jicama, ginger, and Jerusalem artichokes. Other white foods include cauliflower, cabbage, beans, onions, garlic, mushrooms, kohlrabi, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, fennel, tofu and white corn. Let’s look at some of these foods in more detail.
The only white foods we should avoid are processed, refined ones. So which white foods are the healthy ones? Healthy white foods include those which are tan or brown on the outside and white on the inside such as pears, jicama, ginger, and Jerusalem artichokes. Other white foods include cauliflower, cabbage, beans, onions, garlic, mushrooms, kohlrabi, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, fennel, tofu, and white corn. Let’s look at some of these foods in more detail.
Beans come in a rainbow of colors but there are also northern beans, cannellini beans, and navy beans. Fava beans and lima beans also come in white. White beans are packed with antioxidants, fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates. Read more in Ultimate Guide on The Health Benefits of Beans and Which Bean is Best for Your Recipe.
Try adding more white beans to your meals by making these White Bean Meatballs, White Bean and Spinach Ragu, Stewed Great Northern Beans with Harissa, Butter Bean Patties, and these Mozzarella-Stuffed Cannellini Burgers with Spinach Pesto. You’ll love these Calcium-Rich Navy Bean Biscuits with Roasted Garlic Gravy, Fava Bean Quinoa Salad, and Great Northern Bean Dip.
Chickpeas get their own category because we all know they are the “magic beans.” They are one of the most versatile foods – they can be used in so many ways, and each time, they take on a completely different profile. Garbanzo beans are packed with protein, fiber, and minerals such as manganese, iron, and folate.
We can use chickpeas to make appetizers, snacks, breakfast, salads, burgers, soups, stews, entrees and desserts. For examples, see Eat Chickpeas All Summer With These Creative and Easy Recipes and 10 Recipes You Might Be Surprised Are Made With Chickpeas. Enjoy chickpeas in this BBQ Chickpea Ranch Salad, Moroccan Chickpea Bake, Toasted Walnut Hummus, and Roasted Vegetable Polenta with Crispy Chickpeas.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower are not only healthy but considered superfoods. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamins C, A and B, calcium and folate. Cauliflower is also a great way to cut down on carbs since it can be used in place of rice, potatoes, and even pizza crust. Check out 5 Bad Ingredients in Your Diet That Can Be Replaced By Cauliflower to learn how.
See these 10 Ways to Cook with Cauliflower and these 15 Recipes with Cauliflower. Try making this Miso Cauliflower Dip, Tahini Roasted Cauliflower with Lemony Herb Oil, Cauliflower Steak Burger, Cauliflower Ceviche, Hazelnut Pesto Smothered Cauliflower Steak, Cauliflower Alfredo, and Creamy Thai Cauliflower Soup.
Parsnips may be one of the least well-known root vegetables but they are filled with nutrients. Parsnips are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Parsnips actually have more fiber than do turnips and have more vitamin C and folate per cup than turnips.
Try using parsnips to make this Garlicky Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup, Cauliflower Parsnip Coconut Curry, Maple-Glazed Roasted Parsnip Hummus, Parsnip and Thyme Grain-Free Crackers, Parsnip Mushroom Tacos with Coriander Crema, and these (Fish Style) Parsnip Fillets.
Turnips are another underappreciated root veggie. They are almost all white and are rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
Learn How to Cook With Delicious Root Veggies – 10 Different Ways and these 31 Awesome Recipes with Root Veggies. If you need ideas for turnips, try these Turnip Ravioli, Turnips with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Lentils, Chili Cheese Turnip Fries, and Lo Bak Gou: Cantonese Turnip Cake.
Most of us probably grew up eating white button mushrooms but they often get upstaged by creminis, shiitake, chanterelles, morels, and other exotic fungi. While all those mushrooms are healthy and delicious, don’t give up on the white button ones. Not only are they the least expensive and easiest to find, but they are also good for you. White mushrooms offer us lots of protein, fiber, potassium, selenium, riboflavin, and niacin. If you want to feel fancier, you can call them by their French name: champignon.
Try white button mushrooms in this Button Mushroom and Leek Quiche, Zucchini Mushroom Veggie Burgers, Mushroom and Kale Farro Salad, Easy Mushroom Stroganoff, Halifax Mushroom Donair, and Pan Fried Tofu tossed with Ginger Spinach and Mushrooms.
One of the white foods many people try to avoid is potatoes, opting for sweet potatoes instead. The truth is that white potatoes are also healthy. They contain high levels of important vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin C, and potassium that can help lower blood pressure and keep our bones strong. In fact, potatoes have more potassium than broccoli, spinach, and bananas!
Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods with endless ways to prepare them. They can be mashed, baked, boiled, whipped, fried, or scalloped. Check out How to Use 10 Different Kinds of Potatoes to Make Simple Meals and 10 Global Ways to Cook with Potatoes. You’ll love this Parmesan Roasted Potato Salad and this Potato and Falafel Crumble Salad.
9. Garlic and Onions
Onions and garlic do a lot more than keep vampires (and potential kissing partners) away. Known as “nature’s wonder drug,” garlic has been shown to prevent certain cancers, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and help boost immunity. Garlic, which is related to the onion family, is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, plus it contains 17 amino acids! Learn more about the health benefits in Garlic: A Real Superfood and How to Make Your Own Remedy to Fight the Common Cold. Read 10 Foods to Cleanse and Care for Your Liver and The Best Prebiotic Foods for Optimal Digestive Health to learn more about the health benefits.
Enjoy these pungent powerhouses in most recipes or make them the star as in this Wild Mushroom and Garlic Scramble, Garlic Chutney, Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Almonds, Baked Onion Rings, Onion Tomato Dal, and French Onion Soup with Cheese Toasts.
Last but not least, let’s talk about tofu. Tofu is made from soybeans and it’s as white as can be. It’s packed with protein, calcium, and iron. Tofu has been a staple of Asian cuisine for ages. It gets a bad rap as being soft, spongy, bland, and tasteless but that doesn’t have to be true. Learn all the tips and tricks in 6 Tips that Will Make You Love Tofu, 7 Steps to Make the Perfect Tofu Dish and Tofu: How to Avoid 5 Common Cooking Mistakes. You can also learn How to Make Epic Vegan BBQ Tofu Wings and The Secret to Making the Crispiest Tofu for All Your Dishes.
We have loads of tofu recipes for you. Check out 10 Saucy and Flavorful Ways to Cook Tofu and then try this Tofu Masala, Baja Tofu Tacos, Szechuan Tofu with Soba Noodles, and Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells.
We should definitely make sure our diets are filled with colorful fruits and vegetables as each gives us specific vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. But don’t leave the white foods off your plate – they also offer us many health benefits in addition to being amazingly delicious.
Lead image source: Cauliflower Steak Sandwich