In the last post, we discovered why some people are veggie haters. Maybe you are one yourself. Now let’s learn some tips to get more veggies in your diet.
- “No Soup for You!” was funny on Seinfeld but not a good idea.
Soup or stew for dinner one night a week, especially in cold weather, is a welcome treat.
Add vegetables to whatever soup you like. Beans, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, or zucchini will add wonderful flavor to broth-based soups. And you can even use frozen vegetables in soup when fresh ones are not available. I threw some mixed vegetables in chili recently and it was still great chili, just had some extra texture.
- Yucky Veggie List
What vegetables are on your ‘yucky’ list? It’s for sure that your kids will avoid those same veggies too. Only because they certainly won’t learn to love them at your house.
Did you know that green bell peppers are just unripened red peppers? And green olives are just unripened black olives? In my opinion, bell peppers completely take over the dish they are in and then I taste them all day long. Fortunately, my husband agrees, so we don’t have a bell pepper problem at our house.
Find one recipe that you can enjoy with each yucky vegetable on your list. I didn’t like beets either until I had pickled beet straws on a salad and I found a way that I could enjoy beets!
- Vegetables in the Raw
If you are not real big on raw vegetables as a snack, try them on a salad. Cucumbers, carrots, celery, tomato, cauliflower florets, avocado, and peppers are great as a salad topper.
Try different types of lettuce as well. If you have never had Butter Leaf lettuce, you are missing a treat. It is buttery just as the name describes. Spinach makes a tasty salad especially when topped with mandarin oranges, raisins, cranberries, strawberries or nuts.
Just watch the bottled dressings—make your own!
Here are some alternatives to store bought salad dressings:
- Ranch dressing: 2/3 cup organic mayo, ½ cup plain yogurt or plain kefir or buttermilk, 1 tsp of dried basil or 1 tbl of fresh basil, sea salt, pepper to taste. You can add garlic or lemon if you prefer.
- Blue cheese dressing: simply by adding crumbled blue cheese to the above and delete the basil.
- Honey Mustard dressing: Raw honey and mustard. Duh!
- Creamy citrus dressing: Plain yogurt, raw honey, lemon juice, curry powder to taste.
- Check out Kath Younger’s graphic on how to create a variety of salad dressings from a few simple ingredients.
- Vegetables Disguised as Food
I used to hate green peas, otherwise known as English peas until a friend introduced me to the Seven Layer Salad (lettuce, peas, crumbled bacon, onions, tomatoes or peppers (yuk), easy mayo/salad dressing, parmesan cheese). Hiding beneath all those layers of yummy stuff were those little peas. Suddenly they tasted sweet and delicious. I was hooked on peas.
- Hide Your Veggies
The trick to get your family to like them is to hide them in all kinds of other yummy food that you already love. You can learn to not just tolerate them, but really like them.
Then once you are hooked, you can delete some of the other ingredients. I learned to love asparagus with a recipe that included boiled eggs, bacon, creamy soup and asparagus underneath. Who wouldn’t love that? Eventually, I eliminated the other ingredients and now I enjoy asparagus in just about any recipe.
Here are some other ideas:
- Top a pizza with eggplant or artichoke hearts.
- Toss in zucchini and carrot slices to your spaghetti or lasagna.
- Mix chopped up veggies in your meatloaf.
- Add raw vegetables to your tacos, such as carrots, cabbage or jicama.
- Make them Fun!
Visual appeal goes a long way towards making vegetables more appetizing. Some ideas to make veggies more fun include:
- veggie kabobs cooked on the grill (onions, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms)
- celery stalks filled with pimento cheese or peanut butter
- whole grain pita bread filled with chopped veggies and your favorite salad dressing.
7. Oven Baked Veggie Fries
Just about any veggie can simply be drizzled with olive oil and sea salt and baked in the oven and you will be amazed at the flavor. Green beans and asparagus spears become something similar to French fries. Kids enjoy them if you cook them until they are crispy.
Slice up one large leek into strips, toss the strips in some olive oil with sea salt and pepper. Add some chickpea or coconut flour (or your favorite flour) and toss again. Bake in the oven until crispy—just like onion straws at a restaurant!
- What’s Up Doc?
Bugs Bunny had it right. Entice yourself with carrots by adding sweet flavors. Raw honey and butter make cooked carrots taste like dessert!
Or make them like sweet potato soufflé (like you would have at Thanksgiving dinner). Boil them and then place them in a food processor until they are smooth. Follow your favorite sweet potato soufflé recipe for the remaining steps.
- Peel Back the Layers
I love sautéed onions or even caramelized onions as a side dish. Raw onions–not so much. Sauté onions in butter (yes, I said butter, not margarine) with a little Italian seasoning. Or add some sliced zucchini or yellow squash.
- Squash Year-Round
The winter squashes such as butternut and acorn are excellent for veggie haters.
Cut them in half, scoop out the pulp, turn them scoop side down in a pan with about a ½ inch of water and bake until the squash is almost tender. Then dump out the water, turn them scoop side up and fill with chopped walnuts, apples or cranberries, raw honey and butter and bake until tender.
Did you know that you can buy butternut squash already diced up in the frozen food section? Read the label to avoid added ingredients. Just thaw and add to pasta dishes for a sneaky way of adding vegetables to your family’s diet.
- Frozen Veggies
I buy bags of vegetables in the frozen food section of the grocery store as well. They serve as my backup when a vegetable is out of season that I want to cook or when I have a menu miscalculation and need another vegetable for dinner.
Be sure to read the labels on those frozen bags too. They should contain just the vegetable and maybe a little sea salt, no sauces or processed ingredients. Got it?
- Five More Vegetable Ideas
- Treat cauliflower like it was potatoes. If you cook it in milk, it will reduce the bitterness (same goes for broccoli). Then you can drain almost all of the milk, add a little cheese and sea salt and pepper and bake. Or beat the drained cauliflower in your mixer and prepare it like mashed potatoes.
- Eggplant can be made into Eggplant Parmesan or cut into strips and fried as a pizza topping. I find that kids like it better if it is peeled. After they find that they like it, eventually you can leave the peeling on where many of the nutrients are.
- Bacon makes everything better, doesn’t it? I learned to love brussels sprouts by adding crumbled bacon and a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to halved brussels sprouts and baking them in the oven. Bacon is not a great choice, but every now and then on your quest to learn to enjoy veggies, it might be okay.
- Add veggies or even fresh salsa to an omelet for breakfast. To get all the veggies you need in a day, you must start early!
- Instead of having a vegetable and a starch (potatoes, rice, couscous, quinoa) for dinner, have a second veggie or beans instead of the starch. Choose a green vegetable for one and a different color for the other (yellow squash, acorn squash, black beans, cannellini beans, lentils, etc).
Just as you need to plan your main entrée, it is equally important to plan your side dishes.
Forty more great ideas are available on this site, Greatist.com.
Here’s your simple change for the day: Make veggies a part of your food planning process. Hide them in other yummy stuff until you grow to love them.
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