3 Asian Vegetables You Should Try
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New healthy Asian vegetable recipes to add to your meal plan

The produce aisle at an asian grocery store showing eggplant and various greens

Does the Asian vegetable section of the produce aisle intrigue you? Many Asian vegetables look different than what you might typically purchase.  Don’t pass them by just because they are unfamiliar! I have some great recipes here for you to try using kabocha squash, watercress and burdock root.  


You may have tasted some of these vegetables in Chinese cuisine at your favourite Asian restaurant, but the thought of cooking them at home is intimidating. These lovely vegetables are actually very easy to prepare and cook and can easily be added to your favorite dishes! Let’s explore three of these Asian vegetables and recipes.  


Kabocha Squash


Kabocha squash is also called Japanese squash or Japanese pumpkin) 


  • Key Nutrients 
    • Contains vitamins A and C, some B vitamins, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants 
    • Kabocha squash seeds also contain zinc, protein, and healthy oils 


  • Health Benefits 
    • Vitamin A and C can support immune function, eye health, and bone development 
    • Antioxidants can help protect body from cell damage 
    • High levels of fibre help manage appetite and control blood glucose levels  
    • Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation states that Kabocha is a warming food that aids digestion 

Two kabocha squash, one cut in half and one whole. the outer flesh is dark green and specked tan and the interior is bright orange thick flesh and large seeds like a pumpkin

  • Buying Tips 
    • Look for a deep green color (a few golden streaks are okay)  
    • Avoid Kabocha with blemishes, such as dark or soft spots, and cuts 


  • Preparation Tips 
    • Wash before preparing to rinse off any dirt 
    • Remove the stem and cut squash in half, then scrape out the pulp and seeds  
    • Kabocha rind is edible and does not need to be removed before cooking 


  • Eating Tips 
    • Can be roasted/steamed and eaten on its own 
    • Can be incorporated into different dishes, such as soups & salads, 
    • Kabocha seeds can be washed, dried and roasted in the oven along with oil and spices  




  • Key Nutrients 
    • Vitamin K 
    • Beta carotene 
    • Folate 

a white bowl full of watercress stems with green clover looking leaves and white stems. The bowl is sitting on a wooden countertop

  • Health Benefits  
    • Cruciferous vegetables have a protective effect against cancer  


  • Buying Tips 
    • Look for perky dark-green leaves 


  • Preparation Tips 
    • Rinse thoroughly, dry as much as you can. 
    • Remove the stems if you wish, but they are edible  


  • Eating Tips 
    • Add to sandwiches, garnish, omelettes, soup, or salads 
    • Stir fried and sautéed are also other ways of cooking  




  • Key Nutrients 
    • High in fibre (inulin) 
    • Contain Potassium 


  • Health Benefits  
    • Inulin is a prebiotic, which is a non-digestible carbohydrate.  Prebiotics are food for probiotics, which are good bacteria that naturally live in the colon of our digestive systems to maintain gastrointestinal health. 

burdock root - looks like a long brown tap root with a white stem on a wooden cutting board with a knife

  • Buying Tips 
    • Choose firm, well-shaped burdock with a diameter of approximately 2 cm. 


  • Preparation Tips 
    • Clean off the dirt with a brush and scrape the skin off with back of a knife 
    • Cut and slice into desired shape and soak in water to avoid brownin 


  • Eating Tips 
    • Add to soup 
    • Used in stir-fry 


I created the following recipe with Chef Jason He, a Chinese Cuisine and herbal chef, and Dr. Jennifer Gao, a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor.  We were all invited by Diabetes Canada to give a presentation and a cooking demo at their virtual Expo this past May. We received excellent feedback from the attendees across Canada.  They were inspired by the ingredients we chose for this recipe.   



Rainbow Stir-Fry in Kabocha Squash (七彩南瓜盅) 

Created by Chef Jason He and Amy Yiu, RD 


Serves 4 


What You Need


Kabocha squash  2 lb 

Cremini mushroom, diced 200 g 

Celery, diced 100 g (1 stalk) a leafy green vegetable stir fry servved inside a hollow kabocha squash with scalloped edges on a floral china plate

Carrots, diced 30 g 

Dried Lentils, cooked 25 g 

Hemp heart 3 tbsp 

Asparagus, diced 3 spears 

Vegetable oil  2 tbsp 

Fresh Ginger 1-inch piece 

Garlic 2 large cloves 

Salt ½ tsp 

Dried Parsley  


Stir Fry sauce 

Low-sodium soy sauce 1 tsp 

Oyster sauce 1 tsp 

Sesame oil 1 tsp 


How to Make Rainbow Stir Fry in Kabocha Squash 

pinterst pin showing rainbow vegetable shit fry in kabocha squash by dietitian amy liu for health stand nutrition

  1. Soak lentils for 10 mins and cook for 10 mins. Put aside. 
  2. Cut the top of Kabocha Squash. Steam the whole squash in a wok on medium-high heat for approx. 20 mins until soft.  
  3. While you are steaming the squash, dice carrot, celery, asparagus, cremini mushrooms, garlic, and ginger. 
  4. Blanch carrot, celery, asparagus and mushrooms in boiling water for 2-3 mins. 
  5. Heat a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl it in the pan until the bottom is well coated.  Throw in the blanched vegetables.  Stir frequently for about 2 mins. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil.  
  6. Put the cooked vegetables in the steamed kabocha squash. Serve hot.  


I hope you and your family would enjoy this colorful stir-fry.  Share photos with us on social media! 


Looking for more simple meal planning tips and healthy recipes for a healthier lifestyle? Sign up for our weekly newsletter for a healthy recipe of the week (and nutrition articles and videos with a balanced living philosophy to help encourage healthy habits but still save room for your favorites). Our nutrition newsletter is written by the Online / Calgary Nutritionists on our team who each hold a professional Registered Dietitian license to ensure you are getting credible advice. 

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