When you read that title, did you feel resigned and think of steamed broccoli, limp cooked carrots, or pale, listless peas rolling about your plate? Well, that might be the problem. So often we avoid veggies ’cause we just don’t know how to make them taste good. I’m here to solve that problem today.
Put ten nutritionists in a room and they’ll only agree on two things:
1. Everyone should eat breakfast.
2. Everyone should eat more vegetables.
I preach the gospel of breakfast all the time, and I never skip the first meal of the day. But even I am guilty of occasional veggie neglect. If you’re like me, maybe you crave a veggie here and there, but the thought of munching on these fibrous stalks and leaves doesn’t really excite you. Why would it, when you can eat cheese instead?!
It’s important to remember that we are all biochemically individual, which means that we all need different things. You require a different amount of sleep, a different type of exercise, and a different diet than your neighbor or your boss or your friend. That goes for veggies too – some of us don’t actually need to eat tons of the colorful crunchies. However, I think it’s probably safe to say that most of us should be eating more than we are! In the spirit of increasing our produce consumption, here are my three fool-proof ways to make veggies taste good:
1. The “Sneaky Smoothie” Technique
Sure, smoothies are a great way to add fruit into your diet, but have you ever thought of sneaking in some mild-tasting veggies as well? I never make a smoothie without adding some spinach or chard (cross my heart, you can’t taste them; they just turn the smoothie green) or some avocado (makes a nice creamy texture). Then I’m all proud of myself ’cause I’ve already gotten in the first veggie serving of the day. “Green powder”, which you can purchase at your local health food store, is also a great option for smoothies.
2. The “Drown’ Em” Technique
You all know how I am about fats by now. I’ll let you in on a secret – the only way I will eat broccoli is if it’s covered in cheese. I can’t deal with this “lightly steamed with a squeeze of lemon” stuff (though if you like it, no judgement, carry on!). Try dipping some crudite in Ranch dressing (make sure it’s good quality, with no added sugar), drizzling some melted coconut oil over a saute of carrots, onions and zucchini, dipping celery in nut butter, or the good ol’ standby, BUTTER, which can and should be slathered over everything within reach. Don’t forget to make use of your friends, herbs and spices, and NEVER forget the salt! Remember, veggies contain fat-soluble vitamins, meaning your body can only access these vitamins if you’re eating fat along with the veg.
3. The “Roast ‘Em” Technique
It’s kind of cheating – roasting creates caramelization, which activates the sugars in the veggies. I don’t care. It’s naturally-occurring sugar and it tastes damn good. And if it helps you to eat things you normally might not, like brussels sprouts, go for it (try drizzling them with a bit of maple syrup and butter and serving them with toasted almonds or hazelnuts). Kale chips – roasting bite-sized pieces of kale with a sprinkle of olive oil and sea salt – is often health newbies’ first foray into the world of kale, and I’m all for it – kale chips are highly addictiveand healthy. The reason you don’t want to roast every single vegetable that you eat is that vitamins oxidize (break down) at high heat. High heat doesn’t damage the minerals, however. In the end, mixing up your preparation styles – raw, steamed, sauteed, roasted and baked – is the way to go.
Hopefully your creative juices are now flowing, and you’re all fired up to create a cream sauce for tonight’s cauliflower. Two important things to keep in mind:
1. As always, QUALITY COUNTS
Vegetables are good for you. Pesticides and herbicides are not. Buy organic and local if possible. Best of all, start a small backyard garden or join a CSA.
2. As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
If you try a vegetable a few different ways, and it still grosses you out or feels otherwise icky, leave it alone. The body has innate wisdom about what works for it and what doesn’t. Lucky for you, you’re an adult, and you have no parents standing over you telling you to clean your plate! Eat what feels right.