“But, I hate vegetables…”
When trying to eat a healthy diet, many people run into this common problem. They’ve never been a fan of vegetables, and while they know they need to eat more, they can’t get over their dislike for the taste. Perhaps they grew up in a household where vegetables were prepared poorly, or certain textures are unappealing. Maybe they’re used to more intense flavors that are sweet or salty, and vegetables just don’t cut it. Or, perhaps they only dislike certain vegetables and have generalized to include all vegetables.
Sound familiar? If you or a loved one “hates” vegetables, consider these tips to make eating vegetables a more positive, healthy experience for the whole family.
- Find out what you like.
Avoid the vegetables you know you don’t like and start with ones you know you can stand or tolerate. Venture out and try other veggies related to these. For example, if you like broccoli, then try cauliflower.
- Experiment with different cooking styles.
Look online or in a cookbook to discover new recipes and new ways to prepare vegetables. Try a few you disliked as a child but prepare them differently. If you’re only eating canned vegetables, for example, try fresh or frozen ones instead.
- Combine them with a food you like.
Liven up your meals with veggies. Consider cooking a meal like stir fry. A healthy mix of chicken, vegetables, and whole-grain rice or cauliflower rice can make each bite delightful. You can do the same with potatoes and onions, chicken and broccoli, steak and peppers, and more!
- Pretend they are other foods.
Have you tried zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or carrot fries? There are plenty of options for replacing processed carbs like pasta with healthier options—vegetables. Pair them with pasta sauce or toppings as you normally would.
- Sneak them in when you can.
There are creative tricks to “hide” the color or flavor of certain veggies. Try adding them to a smoothie, in a pasta sauce, or pureed or stewed in the crockpot and in soups.
- Dip them!
Before you reach for the potato chips, consider dunking a piece of broccoli, cauliflower, pepper, or carrot instead. Vegetable slices are perfect in fresh salsa, hummus, or guacamole.
- Add small amounts to existing recipes.
Whipping up a homemade soup or chili? Preparing a sandwich for lunch? Sneak in some spinach, chard, or kale to the mix. You’ll hardly know it’s there, but it is.
- Switch up the flavors.
Try preparing your veggies with different herbs, spices, marinades, and salad dressings. Switch it up and add fruits if you like (apples are great with carrots!) Spice up your salad by adding veggies, fruits, nuts, and fresh herbs.
- Make it colorful and fun.
For picky kids, try serving them a snack of “veggie people” or lunch on a food face plate. Having fun with your food will encourage your kids to eat better. Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration, like pepper sailboats or veggie Mr. Baked Potato heads.
- Be patient, and don’t give up.
It takes time and experimentation to learn to eat and enjoy new foods, especially if you haven’t eaten them in a while. Get creative, and don’t stop until you find the perfect flavors for your family.