I don't know anyone who just loves coming home from a hard day at the office, and tucking into a huge bowl of plain, steamed vegetables.
And if there's someone out there who does — congratulations. You win!
So what do the rest of us do when we want to eat more vegetables, but don't really like them that much?
First, know that you're not alone. In fact, you're in the majority.
Here's the problem: our fast-paced, sleep-less, get-more-done culture has driven us to rely more and more on processed foods. As a result, vegetables have become somewhat mysterious — and even unknown — to most people.
First, there's the question of buying them — organic or conventional? Then, we worry about how to prepare them — how to wash, what to trim off, whether to steam or roast or boil — or just eat raw. Finally, we wonder: how do we make them taste good when all of the other (processed) foods taste so much more better?
Transitioning to a diet that includes more vegetables can be a bit of a process, especially if you're not used to eating them. At first, the flavors and textures may seem strange or even off-putting, but try to be patient. Over time, you palate will adjust and believe it or not, you may soon grow to crave kale salad and other veggie wonders.
If you're an aspiring veggie-liker, here are a few of my top tips to get you started…
1. Add small amounts to every meal.
Try adding the good stuff in here and there — at every meal, if possible. Start with a couple of vegetables that you already know you like — for example, start having some baby carrots on the side with your lunch. Or start having a side salad every night with your dinner. If you already eat salad with dinner, try adding another serving of vegetables, such as lightly steamed kale. Be sure to serve the greens with a tasty sauce (more on this below!).
2. Sneak greens and other veggies into your smoothie.
Rotate a variety of mild-tasting greens and vegetables into your smoothies; chances are, the fruit flavors will dominate, and you won't even notice the extra vegetables are there. Some of my favorite veggies to throw into a smoothie include: romaine lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, carrot, and beet.
3. Garnish with nuts.
Nuts and seeds are magical ingredients. I almost always have lightly toasted nuts or seeds on hand to scatter over a salad, slaw, or roasted veggies. I usually buy them raw so they're minimally processed (and unsalted). Then, I place them in a pan over low heat, stirring frequently so they won't burn. It only takes a few minutes for the nuts to toast and become fragrant.
4. Bring on the herbs.
Herbs are another magical ingredient — often, I use a combination of nuts and herbs to add flavor and texture to a salad or vegetable dish. Every week, I buy fresh parsley (usually both Italian and curly), mint and cilantro to use on top of rice-bean-greens bowls, salads, and grilled vegetables. If I have leftovers, I simply add them to a green smoothie. Herbs are highly detoxifying in the body.
5. Get sauced.
When it comes to veggies, I am ALL ABOUT THE SAUCE. I rarely eat vegetables without some sort of dressing, vinaigrette, or sauce. Each week, I usually make a tahini-based dressing/sauce. This can be made savory (by using chopped shallot and a spice such as cumin or sumac), herb-y (with fresh dill) or sweet (a wee bit of maple syrup — recipe below!). I make a batch on Sundays, so we'll have dressing to use all throughout the week.
If all this sounds good, and you're looking for a recipe to try, please follow the links below.