UNITED STATES—Last week we kicked off the New Year talking about the importance of all things fruit-based. I mean it is the New Year and we all want to eat healthy. With that being said, we transition this week’s conversation to the importance of vegetables. Yes, those pesky little items in the grocery stores that look weird sometimes taste funny and can be slightly overpriced. Why the focus on veggies? Well, they’re like a free food of sorts, and they are far healthier for the body than anything else you could possibly consume.

Let’s be honest there is a reason so many people decide to go vegan: it does a body good. However, at the same time there is a big reason so many people choose not to go vegan: the taste or flavor profile diminishes a ton. Well, it’s time to change that America. I love vegetables, but I will be honest there are those veggies that I stay very far from. When it comes to peppers, I love green, red and orange. I honestly prefer red over all others; I’m not a fan of yellow peppers. For reasons I cannot fathom, I hate the taste of them, it’s a flavor I just can’t get over, except when I’m making fajitas. Yellow peppers work well with other peppers in my opinion, not so much solo.

Cucumbers, I can eat them all day and they are so versatile America. Rather in a salad, a snack or wait for it a smoothie (try cucumbers, lime, Granny Smith Apple, banana and mango for a tasty treat), it’s a great addition to any meal. Carrots, I adore the orange veggie and they have sweetness to them that allow you to have the best of both worlds, something slightly sweet and healthy at the same time. When it comes to greens take your pick, rather its romaine, spinach, kale, the options are endless, but I love kale as its great in a smoothie. The same applies with spinach, but I’d always recommend buying fresh if you can and ensure you thoroughly rinse your greens.

Tip: invest in a salad spinner. It’s great for drying off all your greens, veggies and fruits; it’s the best $10 I spent in a very long time America. Potatoes we all love them, but for different reasons. Most people like them fried, but we all know that is not the best route to take. I would recommend if you’re going to eat fried potatoes do them at home and try to utilize an oil that is a bit healthier than vegetable oil. However, if you’re utilizing potatoes in a dish don’t be afraid of red, Yukon Gold, sweet potatoes and even purple potatoes. We eat with our eyes America, and while the Idaho and Russet Potatoes are the go to source for many, I love Yukon Golds. They just have a silky taste to them and just feel me up a lot quicker.

I have kind of gone over the basics when it comes to veggies, but you have a ton of others that you can implement into your daily cooking that have plenty of health benefits. You have beets, which are traditionally red. They have an earthy taste to them, but are a great source of iron for the body. I actually love Golden Beets because the color is amazing and you don’t have to worry about that reddish, purple coloring ruining your clothes. In addition, you have parsnips, which are part of the root family. They are similar to carrots, but are white and actually have a mild taste behind them you can get behind if you mix with other veggies. Squash, the opportunities are endless rather its acorn, butternut, zucchini or spaghetti, you can mix and match these to create a dish that you’ll indulge in for years to come.

Now, let’s talk briefly about flavor profiles when it comes to veggies. What you season your veggies with helps elevate the taste of them. Of course, salt and pepper is a must, but in addition, think of ways to come up with a creative sauce if you’re concerned about not having meat on the plate. Teriyaki, Szechuan, Sweet & Sour, there are plenty of ideas out their floating to elevate your veggies to be the star dish in the household. Do a bit of research and ask people who might be vegan what they do to take their dishes to the next level.

The key argument here is to experiment with your veggies; don’t be afraid to try new things, but do a bit of homework in the process to know what pairs well with the veggie, how to cook it and how it can impact your health in good way. I mean I’ve never really heard anyone say eating too many veggies would be had for you, have you?

Written By Kelsey Thomas