This article was originally written by Katherine Ripley. It has since been updated by an additional contributor.

It’s officially farmer’s market season, and New Jersey growers have a lot to offer. After all, it is the Garden State. Fresh, local corn, tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries are hard to beat. But what about the more unusual items that you’ve never tried before? The following farmer’s market vegetables are often passed by, but they shouldn’t be, because they have incredible nutritional benefits.

Next time you visit your local farmer’s market, be adventurous and try one (or all) of the items below.


farmer's market

While technically, you may have already tried cauliflower at some point in your life, you haven’t eaten cauliflower like this. The cruciferous veggie is experiencing somewhat of a rebirth, thanks to the current no-carb frenzy.

Those looking to cut calories and add fiber to their meals can swap cauliflower rice for traditional rice, and all you need is a food processor. Or why not try cauliflower pizza crust? It’s gluten-free and it makes your guilty pleasure significantly healthier without all the white flour.

Dandelion Greens

farmer's market

I know what you’re thinking – but a dandelion is a weed! Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, though.

“Dandelion greens are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain more than 500 times the recommended daily value of Vitamin K, which may help in strengthening bones and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. They’re also high in iron, fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and calcium, making them a true superfood,” says New Jersey vegan chef and wellness professional Lauren Kretzer.

“I love dandelion greens wilted into soups and stews, or mixed into green salads with a lemon vinaigrette,” says Kretzer. “They can also be sauteed with olive oil and garlic and tossed into whole grain pasta for a super filling, healthy dinner.”


farmer's market

Like cauliflower, you most likely have tried zucchini before. But have you tried it as a pasta replacement?

You can use a spiralizer to cut the veggie into long, thin “zoodles,” boil or sauté them, and have a healthy, nutritionally-dense meal on your plate.

Two cups of pasta will set you back around 400 calories, while the same amount of zoodles is less than 100 calories. Plus, zucchini is low-carb and loaded with vitamins A, C, B and potassium.


farmer's market

If you’re into heartier veggies, look no further than the rutabaga. Think of this root vegetable as you would a potato. You can cut it up and roast it, mash it or put it in soups.

Rutabagas provide healthy antioxidants, which fight free radical compounds in your body. They also add a fair amount of vitamin C, fiber and potassium to your dish.

Try this recipe to make a tasty side dish for a summer barbecue.


farmer's market

Have you ever eaten a seaweed salad? It’s a popular appetizer at Japanese restaurants, and since kelp is actually a form of seaweed, it’s not too much of a stretch to add it to your menu.

Kelp is known as a superfood, because it is chock-full of vitamins and minerals. Consuming kelp can help provide you with vitamins A, B, C, D and E, as well as zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium. Talk about a nutritional powerhouse!

You can eat dried kelp as a snack, use fresh kelp in a salad or put kelp “noodles” in a soup or pasta dish – versatile and delicious!

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