7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (2024)

Ulcerative Colitis

Certain produce can exacerbate UC symptoms, but there are ways people with IBD can safely incorporate fruits and vegetables in their diet.


Carey Rossi

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (1)


Kelly Kennedy, RDN, LDN

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (2)

Cooking fruits and veggies might be easier on the digestive tract.

People with ulcerative colitis (UC)often have multiple bouts of loose bowel movements during a flare-up. When this happens, there are changes you can make to your diet to avoid aggravating your GI symptoms. “Generally, when a UC patient is going through a flare-up, it’s recommended they eat nutrient dense, natural foods that are easy to digest,” says Cristiana Assumpção Mengarelli, RDN, a clinical dietitian in the division of gastroenterology at the University of Miami Health System in Florida.

When it comes to produce, you may find cooked fruit and veggies to be easier to tolerate. “The use of heat on fruits and vegetables aids in the breakdown of fiber that otherwise would not have been easily digested,” explains Holly Smidt, RD, a clinical dietitian at the Center for Endocrinology at Mercy in Baltimore. This holds true whether you bake, roast, or boil your produce.

Another trick is to peel your fruit and veggies — such as apples, pears, cucumbers, and potatoes — because the skins are particularly high in fiber. “Peeling vegetables eliminates some of the insoluble fiber which is what contributes to irritation in the gut during a flare,” Smidt says.

You can also try pureeing fruits and vegetables into soups and smoothies. This is a good strategy to reintroduce produce you may have eliminated during flare-ups. “Once an individual has their UC under control, reintegrating fruits and vegetables into their diet can cause anxiety for some as they may have aggravated GI symptoms when there was active inflammation,” says Luis Garcés, RD, a clinical dietitian in the division of gastroenterology at the University of Miami Health System. “This approach is typically better tolerated and is a great first step in getting back to a healthy diet.”

Know Your Trigger Foods

“Cruciferous vegetables and other high fiber fruits and veggies can be trigger foods for someone with UC,” says Smidt. “Foods to avoid would include raw vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peas, beans, and salads.” Instead, Mengarelli recommends ripe bananas, avocado, cantaloupe, nectarines, papayas, peaches, honeydew melon, plums, and canned fruits in 100 percent fruit juice. Well-cooked veggies, such as carrots, potatoes without skin, pureed spinach, beets, and squash without seeds, are also good options, she adds.

Keep in mind, however, that foods can affect people differently. Fruits and vegetables mentioned here are only suggestions, and you’ll need to determine your personal triggers through trial and error. “In general, people in remission with UC or with mild disease should try all fruits and vegetables to determine which ones they may be sensitive to and need to be removed from their diet,” Mengarelli says.

Keeping a food journal and working with a registered dietitian can help you detect patterns and identify troublesome foods.

Are you ready to put this knowledge to use? Here are five veggie-centric recipes to try, as well as notes on how you may want to modify them during a flare. Omit any known food triggers, of course, and adjust the recipes to fit your needs.

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7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (3)

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Butternut Squash Soup With Tofu

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (4)

Serves 5


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 5 cups)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • ¾ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 brick silken tofu (454 g), drained and cubed


  1. In a large pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and onion, sprinkle with salt, and cook until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in spices and stir together.
  2. Add diced squash and sweet potato to the pot, pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potato and squash are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Once vegetables are tender, add cubed tofu. Blend with an immersion blender, or transfer to a large blender and blend until smooth.

UC-Friendly Tip: Leave out the spices if they’re a known trigger or during a flare.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per serving: 227 calories, 8.3g fat, 7.3g protein, 33g carbohydrates, 5.3g fiber, 7.2g sugar, and 699.8mg sodium.

Recipe provided by Real Good Eats.


Sweet Potato Hummus

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (5)

Serves 4

The creamy texture of hummus makes it easy to tolerate, but legumes (like the chickpeas used in a traditional recipe) are high in fiber and tough to digest, so using sweet potatoes instead makes this recipe a great option for people with UC.


  • 15 oz baked sweet potatoes, skins removed
  • 1 4 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained, with blackened skins removed
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp fresh garlic, finely diced (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped


  1. In a food processor, puree the sweet potatoes, roasted red peppers, lemon juice, garlic (if using), cumin, cayenne (if using), and salt. Process the mixture until it is fairly smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle the sweet potato hummus with the chopped parsley before serving.

UC-Friendly Tip: Leave out the cayenne and garlic during a flare-up.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per serving: 130 calories, 0g fat, 3g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 0mg cholesterol, and 460mg sodium.

Recipe provided by the Cleveland Clinic.


Spaghetti Squash

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (6)

Serves 4


  • 1 whole spaghetti squash


  1. Poke a few holes in squash with a fork. Place whole spaghetti squash in a large stock pot filled with water. Put lid on and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, rotate squash every 5 minutes.
  3. After 15–20 minutes, pierce skin lightly with a paring knife. You are looking for very little resistance in the skin and flesh. Once it feels soft, it is done! (25–35 minutes depending on size of your squash)
  4. Remove squash from boiling water and let cool for at least 10 minutes, or until you can handle squash.
  5. Halve, remove seeds, and use a fork to loosen all the spaghetti strands.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per serving: 74 calories, 1g fat, 1g protein, 16g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, and 41mg sodium.

Recipe provided by Beyond the Chicken Coop.


Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (7)

Serves 4


  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 15.5-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed (see note below)
  • 1 14.5-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5-oz can low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup plain low-fat yogurt (omit if lactose intolerant)


  1. Heat a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add zucchini and yellow squash and sauté 3 minutes.
  2. Add water, oregano, chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Serve topped with yogurt.

UC-Friendly Tip: During a flare, you may want to substitute peeled potatoes for the chickpeas and skip the crushed red pepper if it’s a known trigger food.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per serving: 185 calories, 2g fat, 9g protein, 35g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, and 600mg sodium.

Recipe provided by the Cleveland Clinic.


Ginger Sweet Potato Pancakes

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (8)

Serves 6


  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 medium sweet onion, like Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ cup egg
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray


  1. In a food processor fitted with the grating blade or with a handheld grater, grate potatoes and onion. Place in a bowl. Stir in ginger, egg substitute, flour, baking powder, salt (if using), and pepper.
  2. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and preheat over medium-low heat. Drop ¼ cup of the potato mixture at a time onto the skillet, pressing each pancake down with the back of a spatula. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning when the pancakes have browned on the bottom. Spritz the pancakes with cooking spray before you turn them. Remove from the pan when they are browned and slightly crusty on both sides.
  3. Serve immediately, or reheat as needed in a microwave.

UC-Friendly Tip: Unbleached white flour, potato flour, almond flour, or rice flour may be substituted if you’re limiting your fiber intake during a flare.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per serving (3 pancakes): 110 calories, 0g fat, 3g protein, 25g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 0mg cholesterol, and 65mg sodium.

Recipe provided by the Cleveland Clinic.


Homemade Applesauce

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (9)

Serves 4


  • 6 apples
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup water


  1. Wash, peel, and cut apples into wedges, removing the core.
  2. Place in slow cooker, add water, and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Set slow cooker on high for 3 hours.
  4. Allow apples to cool, then spoon into a NutriBullet or blender, adding some of the remaining liquid.
  5. Blend until fully smooth. Keep refrigerated.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per serving (about a cup): 106 calories, 0.8g fat, 0.3g protein, 24.5g carbohydrates, 3.3g fiber, 0mg cholesterol, and 0mg sodium.

Recipe provided by InflammatoryBowelDisease.net.


Green Smoothie Bowl

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (10)

Serves 2


  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ cup seedless green grapes
  • ¼ cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed firmly
  • ½ apple
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt (or plain almond milk yogurt for a nondairy option)
  • 1 cup ice


  • 1 teaspoon hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon goji berries (optional)
  • Cinnamon (dash)


  1. Blend base ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately in a large bowl and add toppings.

UC-Friendly Tip: You’ll probably want to avoid this green smoothie bowl during a flare.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount per serving (1 cup): 60 calories, 0g fat, 5g protein, 35g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 0mg cholesterol, and 90mg sodium.

Recipe provided by the Cleveland Clinic.

Additional reporting by Ashley Welch.

7 Vegetable Recipes That Are Ulcerative Colitis-Friendly (2024)
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