Your mom has been saying it for years: eat your veggies. Of course, you know that vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are vital to your health. But still, you struggle to consume those 3-5 servings a day, mostly because you just really don’t like the taste of veggies.
Research links eating your daily dose of vegetables to a lowered risk of heart disease and cancer, a healthier weight and even increased happiness. So how can you add more greens to your diet and still have your meals taste good?
1. Broaden Your Palate
Did you know that kids need to be exposed to new foods 10-15 times before they appreciate the new flavor? Your grown-up palate probably isn’t that different. So let a taste grow on you. Pick a vegetable you’d like to learn to enjoy and start small. Regularly serve one tablespoon as a side dish to your standard meals or add half a cup to your favorite pasta dish.
Also, try new veggies! Many of us get stuck in the same routine of rotating peas, carrots and cauliflower for dinner. But what about beets, collard greens or red cabbage? And have you ever tried paksoi, sauerkraut and turnips? Next time you’re going grocery shopping, browse the fruit and veg aisle of your supermarket for vegetables you haven’t eaten (in a while).
Paying attention to seasonal foods also helps you to naturally try new flavors. Eat leafy greens and asparagus in spring, enjoy green beans in summer, use mushrooms and pumpkin in your autumn meals, and roast root vegetables in winter.
2. Experiment with Different Ways of Preparation
Enjoying food isn’t just about its taste: the smells and textures play a big role too. Instead of your usual boiling and frying, experiment with different techniques of preparing vegetables. Roasting tomatoes and bell peppers in the oven, for example, brings out their natural sweetness, while grilling zucchini and eggplant gives them a delicious bite.
You can eat fresh vegetables raw, or steam, stir fry, stew or poach them. Spiralize carrots for colorful pasta noodles or turn an everyday cauliflower into ‘rice’ and a healthy pizza base. Fire up the barbecue for grilled corn and smoky vegetable skewers. And who doesn’t like a (veggie) burger with (sweet potato) fries?
3. Sneak Vegetables into Your Meals
If you struggle with the taste of vegetables, you can still get their oh-so-important nutrients while masking their flavor. Take a look at these surprising strategies to sneak veggies into your meals without you noticing:
- Add a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie and gradually shift the proportions to more greens and less fruit.
- Mix sweet vegetables through your porridge and baked goods. You can stir grated carrots with raisins through your oatmeal, blend pumpkin puree through your pancake batter or add beets to your muffins.
- Upgrade your regular pasta sauce by packing extra veggies, like onions, celery or red peppers.
- Soup is also the perfect vehicle for blending in vegetables. A spicy laksa or aromatic miso soup will mask the taste of healthy hidden ingredients.
- Mash root vegetables like kohlrabi or parsnip through your potato puree.
- Wrap your greens in a tasty package. Make your own rice paper spring rolls, stuff empanadas with finely sliced veggies or have vegetarian sushi.
4. Jazz Up Veggies
Does your good old ‘meat, potatoes and veg’ routine bore you? You don’t have to hide your vegetables under layers of gravy or ketchup. Try dressing up your broccoli and green beans with healthy toppings instead, like fresh herbs, toasted pine nuts, savory granola, pomegranate arils or lemon zest.
Even better, you can top your cooked vegetables with veggies you do like, such as caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes. A healthy dipping sauce like avocado mayonnaise, hummus or yogurt dip is also an enjoyable way to eat more veggies.
For the real veggie-haters, sprinkling grated Parmesan cheese or lean streaks of bacon over bitter vegetables like Brussels sprouts may help to let their taste grow on you.
With these four strategies and a little creativity in the kitchen, you can transform the veggies you thought you hated into appetizing sides. That way, you’ll get all the benefits greens have to offer and enjoy your nutrient-packed meals too.
What’s your favorite trick to eating more vegetables when you don’t like their taste?