It’s a challenge to maintain a healthy and balanced diet when you don’t like vegetables. Of course you know that all veggies are really good for you but that doesn’t make them taste any better or make you love them. As there really are very few alternatives that you can substitute in and receive the same benefits, you really should work hard to love vegetables – or at least find some you might actually be able to eat.
If childhood nightmares of over- or undercooked sprouts and rock-hard potatoes are still putting you off your greens, learn to love vegetables by taking a cookery class. It's creative and entertaining – cooking at home is a lot cheaper and healthier than buying processed meals in the long run. Enroll in weekend workshops or evening classes – and have great fun discovering how to prepare veggie lasagne, nut cutlets or a spicy dish of baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with chilli.
Vegetables can be made to taste a whole lot better with the help of herbs, butter, cheese and spices. Experiment with ginger and kale, nutmeg and potatoes, add sautéed onions and garlic to mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes, use chopped parsley, dill, chives or fennel, when preparing healthy starters with carrots, celery, cucumber, sliced peppers, celery and a hummus dip.
Many people object to being served vegetables because they have tried eating them plain and have found them boring. Having ruined their palates with hot vindaloo curries, they no longer have the taste buds to distinguish delicate flavours of lightly grilled sole served with steamed spinach or broccoli. Try this: serve up a dish of chopped carrots with seasoned rice mixes, or mix broccoli with mounds of macaroni tossed in flavorsome cheese and you'll get a very different reaction than from a pile of plain steamed broccoli.
Supermarkets are partly responsible of the great anti-veggie stance of today. With limited shelf space comes limited consumer choice. Example: in the not so distant past Welsh farmers in the United Kingdom grew some 600 varieties of apples alone. Today only a handful of varieties are sold by green grocers and supermarkets in Britain. The story repeats itself in many parts of the Western World. Most varieties of potatoes, carrots, leeks, onions, peppers, lettuces, cucumbers and cabbages etc are no longer available for purchase. Tip: convert a small part of your backyard into a veggie patch, and contact specialist garden centers for seed packets. Soon you'll be harvesting far more exciting vegetables. Research varieties in local libraries, at garden centers or via the web.
Try different vegetables – there are so many so-called exotic veggies from all over the world that are now on supermarket shelves. Be adventurous. And if you want to stick with the familiar ones, come up with different ideas for presentation each time. Tip: disguise tomatoes, onion, garlic and red peppers by serving them in their puréed form as a sauce. Heaped on top of pasta you should love it. Then gradually add a new veggie in each time you try it. Just keep trying different combinations of vegetable dishes. And another reason to just keep trying is that your tastes change. Veggies I loved as a kid (broccoli), I really don’t like now, but ones I didn’t like (carrots), I love now.
Buying seasonal food reduces the carbon footprint of what you eat; it is fresher and cheaper, healthier and better tasting. Eat pumpkin in autumn and strawberries in summer, not the other way round. Visit local farmers' markets and chat with growers, who are a fountain of knowledge when it comes to what's at its best at any time of the year and how to prepare it at home. Why will this help you love vegetables? Well, taking an interest should foster motivation to try new types and varieties. And, they taste better.
Instead of ordering the same-old-same-old dishes when dining out with friends, be brave and order something from the veggie side dish menu. It can be an eye-opener for newbie veggie lovers – conventional things like egg plants, potatoes or carrots can be served up with delicious sauces or with exciting herb and cheese crusts. Learn to love vegetables by thinking outside the box – and put traumatic childhood memories of watery cabbage and rock hard sprouts firmly behind you!
Do you think you can be more adventurous and try to eat more vegetables? What tips are you going to try?