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Vegetables are a key part of a balanced diet. But what exactly are vegetables anyway?

Types of Vegetables

Generally speaking, vegetables are anything edible in a plant that isn't fruit, that is not containing seeds1.

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are the roots of the plant2- the bit that grows below ground. Examples include carrots and potatoes.

  • Carrot

    -recipes: Cooking with Carrots - Victorian Style

    -The carrot is a root vegetable that is famous for being orange. However, this wasn't always the case. In the past, carrots have been purple, yellow, red, white and black, but orange varieties did not appear until the 16th century.

  • Potatoes

    - a history: The Potato - Its Unexpected Historical Impact

    - recipes: Potato Recipes

    - a recipe: Perfect Mashed Potatoes

    - a variant: Jacket or Baked Potatoes

  • Stem Vegetables

    Stem vegetables are the stems of plants3. Examples include celery and asparagus.

  • Asparagus

    -The young shoots of asparagus are eaten all over the world. It was cultivated and eaten by the ancient Greeks, who recommended it as a cure for toothache. Green asparagus is the most popular variety, but white asparagus, which is grown by denying the plants light, is also eaten.

  • Celery

  • Leek

  • Rhubarb

  • Bulb Vegetables

    Bulbs are formed from the swollen stems of plants. Examples of bulb vegetables include onions and shallots.

  • Garlic- A Chronology of Garlic

  • Onions

    - a recipe: How to Make Perfect Pickled Onions

  • Shallot

  • Leaf Vegetables

    Leaf vegetables are the leaves of the plant. They are the kind of vegetables found in salads. There are over a thousand different plants with edible leaves, but we only choose to eat a few of them. Examples include lettuce and cabbage.

  • Lettuce

  • Legumes

    Legumes generally come in pods and include peas, beans, pulses and lentils.

  • Beans4

    -Beans make up a large proportion of the 'legumes' category of vegetable and have been cultivated for centuries. Broad beans were cultivated in Ancient Egypt, and beans are still highly popular today. However, many varieties of the common bean, especially kidney beans, can be toxic if raw or undercooked. The Greek mathematician Pythagoras, and his followers, the Pythagoreans, would not eat any sort of bean because of their religious beliefs. They are not to be confused with Mr Bean, a popular TV character.

  • Pea- The Garden Pea

  • Fruiting Vegetables

    Fruiting vegetables are vegetables which could technically be considered fruit. They are the exception to the general rule and examples include tomatoes and cucumber.

  • Aubergine or Eggplant

    -The aubergine is generally purple and is a relative of both the potato and the tomato. It was cultivated in southeast Asia in prehistoric times. At one point it was thought to be poisonous because it is in the nightshade family.

  • Avocado

    -a recipe: Avocado Salsa

    -The avocado is native to Mexico and Central America. This is reflected in the fact that the word 'avocado' has its origins in the Aztec word 'ahuacatl'. It is poisonous to several animals including dogs, cats and horses.

  • Butternut Squash

    -recipes: Many Tasty Things to do with a Butternut Squash

    -The butternut squash originated in Mexico. It is a winter squash that tastes similar to the pumpkin, and the Australians call it the butternut pumpkin. It has orange flesh and yellow-orange skin.

  • Chilli- The Hottest Chillies

    - health: The Healing Properties of Chillies

  • Courgette or Zucchini

  • Cucumber

  • Gherkins

  • Marrow

  • Pepper

  • Pumpkin

    - Halloween: The Perfect Halloween Pumpkin

  • Kabocha Squash

  • Tomatoes

  • A Comprehensive List

    • Artichokes

      -The globe artichoke originated in southern Europe near the Mediterranean. It is related to the thistle and grows to between 1.5 and 2 metres high. It can be made into a herbal tea and is also an ingredient in an Italian liquor called Cynar. Several hybrid varieties have been bred to allow it to survive sub-zero temperatures. The leaves and stem can be used to increase bile production.

    • Beetroot

      -Beetroot is an excellent health food and is well known for staining everything red. The Romans used beetroot to treat fevers and constipation, and the Greek Hippocratus used beetroot leaves as bandages.

    • Broccoli

      -Broccoli originated in Italy and is related to the cabbage, the cauliflower and the sprout. It looks a little like a miniature tree. It is usually green but it is possible to get purple-sprouting broccoli5.

    • Cabbage

      -Originating from the Mediterranean, cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked and is used in folklore to treat inflammation. It is a leaf vegetable notorious for causing flatulence.

    • Cauliflower

      -The cauliflower, another member of the species Brassica oleracea, which includes broccoli and cabbage, is most commonly white, but can also be purple, green or orange. Usually, just the centre section is eaten and the leaves, though edible, are discarded.

    • Celeriac

    • Fennel

    • Kale

    • Mushroom

    • Okra

    • Parsnip

    • Radish

    • Spinach- Spinach - The Truth

    • Sprout

    • Swede

    • Sweet Potato - The mystery of the sweet potato

    • Sweetcorn

    • Turnip

    • Yuca
    1There are, however, exceptions to this rule.2Obviously.3Surprise surprise.4There are actually many different sorts of beans, but they are sufficiently covered by the linked entry.5Which is purple.

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