Making Peace with Vegetables: Easy Strategies for Selective Eaters

If you are struggling with veggies, try our delicious tips to enjoy them more, even if you've never liked them! 

Everyone from your Mom to that influencer on social media is talking about eating more vegetables. 

That's because vegetables are one of the most beneficial foods you can eat. 

But WHY Do I Need to Eat Them? 

Veggies are packed to the gills with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that promote overall health. They are essential for a well-balanced diet. 

Things vegetables are amazing at:

  • supporting a healthy immune system (so many vitamins!)
  • reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers (I mean, YES)
  • helping us stay at a healthy weight (by providing low-calorie, nutrient-dense options)
  • improving digestive health (due to the high fiber content) 

But What If I Don't Like Veggies?!

If you don't like vegetables, you may be beginning to sweat right now! But have no fear.

We have several strategies you can try to get your veggie intake up. 

Before we start, know that research shows that you can learn to like foods that you currently hate! It can take 10 to 15 exposures (or more) to a new food before you learn to like it. 

So, our most important advice to go into this experience with an open mind, a willingness to try new things, and a persistency not to give up after 2 or even 10 tries!

Strategy 1: Experiment with Different Ways to Make or Prepare Vegetables

Some veggies taste good raw. Some taste best grilled or roasted. Some blend well into things like smoothies. Experiment with all the different ways to eat them!

In my family, we love trying the same food prepared lots of different ways. We might have broccoli raw with hummus on Monday, steamed on Tuesday, and roasted with garlic salt & lemon on Wednesday. 

Here are some options to consider:

Roasting: For many people who don't like veggies, roasting them can be a game changer! Roasting vegetables can bring out their natural sweetness and improve their texture. Try roasting carrots, Brussels sprouts, or sweet potatoes with olive oil and your favorite seasonings. Don't be afraid of salting your veggies-- the salt will help bring out the best flavors and is important if you are learning to like a food. Try this recipe today. 

Blending: Add vegetables to smoothies. Spinach, kale, and cauliflower can be blended with fruits like bananas and berries, masking their taste while still providing their nutrients. We have lots of recipes you can try!

Pureeing: Puree vegetables into soups or sauces. For example, blend cooked cauliflower into a creamy soup. You could also add pureed carrots or zucchini to marinara sauce.

Grilling: Grilled vegetables often have a more appealing taste and texture. We love veggies skewers on the grill with whole mushrooms, sliced onions & peppers, and roughly chopped zucchini. 

Stir-Frying: Stir-frying vegetables with a flavorful sauce can make them more palatable. You can use ginger, and a bit of honey or maple syrup. Check out our no-soy recipe here

Raw with Sauces or Seasonings: Enhance the flavor of raw vegetables with spices, herbs, and sauces. A fabulous hummus can carry a whole plate of raw veggies!

Use Healthy Fats: Drizzle vegetables with healthy fats like olive oil or avocado oil, or add a sprinkle of cheese or a dollop of yogurt-based dip.

Strategy 2: Include Vegetables into Meals you Already Like

You don't have to eat a new food on it's own to reap the benefits. Incorporating a new food into stuff you already know and like can be a great way to get used to that new food AND get all those awesome nutrients & benefits.

Here are some ideas for you to try! 

Mix into Main Dishes: Add finely chopped or grated vegetables to dishes you already enjoy. This works great for pasta (into the grated into the sauce or julienned veggies can be mixed with the pasta), casseroles (leafy greens wilt very well), or omelets (any chopped veggie alongside whatever you normally put in eggs like ham or cheese).

Hidden Veggies: Incorporate vegetables into foods where their taste is less noticeable (or maybe not noticeable at all) Meatloaf, burgers, or meatballs can easily accept diced mushrooms, onions, or carrots with virtually no taste change. 

Smoothies: Blend vegetables into smoothies along with fruits to mask their flavor. Spinach, kale, and even avocado can add nutrients without altering the taste significantly.

Strategy 3: Try Different Types of Vegetables

This tip seems like it would be self-evident but it's surprisingly not.

If you do not like Roma tomatoes, our tendency as humans is to think that you just don't like tomatoes. But have you tried yellow tomatoes? The taste is surprisingly different. What about giant heirloom tomatoes or tiny red currant tomatoes? 

And if tomatoes aren't the thing you will learn to love this week, instead try zucchini, carrots, onions, eggplant, spinach-- there are so many options! (And don't forget our other tips too. Tomatoes grill taste way different than diced in a marina sauce or eaten raw alongside slabs of mozzarella.)

Explore Varieties: You might not like certain varietals or certain veggies, but get curious about what other veggies you might like. Experiment with a wide range of vegetables, including different types of greens, root vegetables, and squashes. Remember that it can take 10 to 15 different exposures to a specific food before you like or tolerate it. So keep trying!

Seasonal Vegetables: Seasonal vegetables often taste better and are more affordable. Visit a local farmers' market to find fresh, seasonal options.

Strategy 4: Keep It Positive and Small 

You want this whole process to feel fun and inviting. If you sit down to a plate with a new food on it and instantly start thinking about how terrible this meal will be, you are not likely to be successful. 

Try to go into a new experience with an outlook of positive curiosity. Thinking "I may not have liked this food before but I'm interested to try it again especially with this new preparation/ variety/ in this new way" has worked well for our clients.  

Open Mindset: Keep an open mind and be willing to try new vegetables and preparation methods.

Small Portions: Start with small portions of vegetables and gradually increase the amount as you become more accustomed to the taste and texture. This will minimize food waste. Smaller portions often feel less intimidating. Try one floret or one pea on your plate, NOT a whole cup! 

Positive Association: Associate eating vegetables with positive experiences. Enjoy them in a pleasant setting. Prepare them as part of a favorite meal. Enjoy the entire dining experience. 

Want more tips? Check out this article

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