How to Make Vegetables More Appealing
Everyone knows the nutritional benefits of vegetables, but what do we do when the flavor doesn’t live up to the hype? In order to change the way you eat and think about vegetables, it’s time to get a little more creative. Vegetables don’t have to be bland and boring; cultivating more creativity with veggies can make things fun for you and your family!
If you’re a parent to little ones, you’ve maybe said to them, “You’re not getting up from the dinner table until you eat your vegetables”, or offered a bribe for taking a bite of veggies. While this may be a momentary helpful tactic, it’s not likely to create a positive association between your kiddos and vegetables. Below are a few simple ways to make veggies more enjoyable if you or your family are just not feelin’ the greens.
1. Explore New Flavors
If the flavor of vegetables is unappealing to you, start with some of the least bitter options such as sweet potato, yams, carrots, lettuce, corn, eggplant, peas, and pumpkin. Once you’ve mastered and enjoy the sweeter vegetables, begin incorporating spices like basil, garlic, black pepper, lemon, and ginger to help override any bitter notes you might taste when eating veggies.
2. Try Different Cooking Methods
With so many delicious ways to prepare veggies, you might be able to remedy this hate affair by changing up your cooking style. The good news about veggies is that they can be cooked in a variety of ways! Maximize the flavor (and nutrition) of your veggie of choice with these simple cooking methods:
- Sautéing veggies in a bit of healthy cooking oil, such as avocado or olive oil, is a great way to maximize flavor. Your veggies are ready in no time with this cooking method by using high heat in a short amount of time. Sautéing bell peppers and onions brings out their natural sweetness to make them super satisfying.
- Roasting is another method that helps bring out the true flavors of vegetables and involves only a little more time than sautéing. Vegetables are placed on a baking sheet, topped with healthy cooking oil and spices of your choice. Then, roast at an average oven temperature of 400-425 degrees for 30-60 minutes, depending on the veggie. Roasting brings out some serious flavor and helps to create that sweet caramelization we crave.
- Steaming is one of the simplest ways to cook veggies and retain their nutrition. If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can easily steam veggies in the microwave in a covered dish or in a covered pan on the stove. The trick to steaming veggies is to add a small amount of water or vegetable broth with raw veggies and use a lid to trap the steam as the veggie cooks. Plus, steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook veggies as it maximizes nutritional benefits and minimizes added calories and fats during prep.
3. Change Up The Way You Prep Veggies
One great way to pique your interest in veggies is to play with textures and styles. Here are some fun and interesting ways to prep your vegetables:
- Julienne. Carrots, jicama, bell pepper, zucchini, squash, beets, and other veggies can be sliced thinly into little matchsticks to create an interesting texture for eating raw or slightly sautéed vegetables. Julienned veggies are delish mixed into warm rice dishes or served on top of a salad.
- Small Chop. Tiny chopped veggies work great in soups, meats, sauces, casserole dishes or even raw over salads. This is one of the best ways to get veggies into a veggie hater. Cut vegetables up super small, sauté them in with meats or cook as the base of soup and sauces. An easy win is beef bolognese — sauté tiny chopped onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in a little olive oil with lots of garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt. Then, brown the meat into the veggie mixture and add your tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. I promise, even your finicky eater won’t even notice the tiny chopped veggies in the sauce.
- Spiralized. Veggie noodles can easily be incorporated in place of or mixed in with pasta. From zucchini, summer squash, beets, russet and sweet potatoes, butternut squash, parsnips and carrots, the possibilities for “veggie noodles” are endless for stir fry or a pasta sub. If you’re eating low carb or keto try spiralizing some of these low carb vegetables. Most grocery stores have pre-spiralized noodles or try your hand at this Butternut Squash Noodles recipe!
- Riced. Root and cruciferous veggies do well when riced, or a super small dice that resembles a rice or grain texture. Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, squash, and beets make a good riced veggie. Riced veggies can be purchased frozen or pre-riced in the produce section. If you have a food processor, try this Cauliflower Rice recipe.
- Blended. Veggies work great blended into sauces and smoothies! Use frozen riced veggies for an easier blend or leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard also work really well into smoothies and sauces. Canned sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or even some pureed “baby food” can easily be stirred into sauces. If you love coffee smoothies try this hidden veggie chocolate coffee shake recipe!