Nutrition Articles

Learn to Love Vegetables

8 Tips to Go for the Green!

When I became a vegetarian, I could have probably counted the number of fruits and vegetables that had crossed my lips the previous 18 years on two hands.

But things are different these days, and veggies are the highlight of my lunches and dinners. But it wasn't always that way. Like most people, I hated all things green and healthy.

I get questions about this a lot--people calling themselves picky eaters, saying they don't like a single vegetable out there. Take it from a person who was just like you. You CAN learn to like vegetables. And beyond that, you CAN meet your daily quota in a variety of tasty ways.

Here are 8 techniques and tips I used to like vegetables. Try them yourself--you just might be surprised.

Say no to plain vegetables. One of the main reasons people don't like vegetables is because they try to eat them plain. If you're new to eating healthy, this is one of the worst things you can do! Most people don't have the taste buds for a plate of steamed broccoli or spinach. And why should you have to suffer through that for the sake of your health? The thing I did most when I started eating healthier was put vegetables into things I already ate: broccoli mixed in with macaroni and cheese, chopped carrots mixed in with seasoned rice mixes, and frozen spinach added to a can of soup are just a few examples. This is a great way to introduce veggies into your diet, where the flavors of the other foods you eat them with help them taste better and less noticeable. Start by adding small amounts of veggies to your standard meals, and as your taste buds adapt, you can add more and more.

Mix your food. If you're one of those people who neatly puts your food into distinct piles on a plate, never mixing them up, then you might hate this idea. I'm not one of those non-food-mixers myself. Most of my meals get mixed up into one big jumble, and while it doesn't look pretty, it sure tastes good. This is similar to the tip above, incorporating veggies into dishes you already eat. But sometimes you can't just add a helping of peas to, say, a turkey burger. But served as a side, you can mix bits of veggies on your plate with the other main dishes--to add flavor and mask the taste if you don't like it.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • I now add leafy greens - a big handful - to my breakfast shake. I also will sometimes add broccoli. With fruit also in the shake (strawbs or blubes or bananas), I get 2-3 veggie/fruit servings in one meal. (BTW, I also include milk, yogurt, flax seeds, almonds or walnuts, Stevia, and ice. I used to add protein powder, but it's pretty expensive and can have lots of carbs & sugar.) I'm a type 2 diabetic. - 1/18/2015 8:02:23 PM
  • What happened to the parents who raised their children to love vegetables?
    My parents raised us this way and I raised my 3 to do the same.
    We all love vegetables and I miss the old-time restaurants who used to serve an inexpensive vegetable plate. - 1/13/2015 7:39:28 PM
  • I'm a vegetarian and already eat lots of vegetables, but your article was still useful to me because I always eat my vegetables plain. I don't even put salt in the water when I cook them.

    Whilst I DO like the taste of plain veggies (steamed broccoli is one of my favourites, in fact!), I often think my meals are very boring. - 1/13/2015 11:01:00 AM
    I love Kale greens and most other veggies. I am learning to experiment with different spices to make them taste better. - 12/17/2013 11:09:05 PM
  • Great article. - 11/1/2013 12:28:31 AM
  • I love the cookbook, "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone". I have had it for years. - 10/22/2013 11:16:24 AM
  • Great article. Will share it with my non-vegetarian friends. - 10/12/2013 9:43:06 AM
  • I definitely agree on seasonally and eating as locally as possible. So, everyone doesn't have the same seasons. For instance, I live in FL, 60 miles away from Plant City, Strawberry capital of the world. Strawberries hit their prime in February, at least for what I could get. And the strawberry/bluebe
    rry farm down the street had u-pick strawberries mid February. Absolutely delicious!! You pick the deep red, ripe berries and leave the rest.

    I wouldn't touch a FL strawberry in the summer with a ten foot pole. If there happened to be one to touch.

    We'll have blueberries in May. yumm. And from my fall vegetable garden, where I grew peas, carrots, beets, and lots of lettuce varieties, my last lettuce plants are bolting now. It's getting too warm. - 3/14/2013 3:14:11 PM
    Probably true for most folks, but I actually prefer veg without flavoring added. I tried incorporating some vegan meals into my diet for a while but have been very put off by all the spices and flavorings. I like meat that just tastes like meat, veg that tastes like veg... I am even cutting out salt lately and it takes some getting used to, but there's SO MUCH flavor in those vegetables!!! if you stop putting other flavors on and let your mouth get used to what's there naturally it's crazy intense and delicious. some I only like raw, others I only like cooked. But the very most i want to do is a light sprinkle of salt or a touch of butter (just a touch, not a bath!). Thanks for the ideas on incorporating into other things, and flavors to try. It's always good to have more ideas! - 2/27/2013 8:32:14 PM
    A veggie omelet is a good way to go. Stir fry sweet pepper, onion and broccoli with a little basil, thyme and salt and then add the eggs and top the omelet with cheese for extra flavour. Or use whatever combination of vegetables you like and experiment to get the taste you want. Also I usually eat a mixture of vegetables not just one vegetable by itself. Broccoli carrots and corn is a good combination. You can try others. And add spices to your food. It doesn't have to be pepper if you don't want it hot. Herbs and spices like paprika, thyme, basil, marjoram, chives etc all make your meals flavourful without being hot and can enhance the taste of your veggies. Add some chicken or fish to the mix and you've got a meal. If you have picky kids who don't like veggies, grater the carrot in the mac and cheese or lasagna, or mash in the butternut squash or peas, add a can of mixed veg and mix in the pasta, or make soup with a vegetable base like peas or pumpkin and add the chicken or other meat and some dumplings to the soup. - 1/25/2013 5:46:52 AM
  • This is a great article!
    I love my veggies any which way, but hubs likes his with a bit more flavor/spices.
    Thank you Coach Nicole for information and the push to add a bit of zip to my hubbys veggies! - 3/16/2012 6:30:37 PM
    Just today I was emailed a recipe for eggplant sandwiches: http://find.myrec

    I used to make a sandwich with roasted eggplant, and spread the bread with spread the bread with a mixture of plain yogurt mixed with dijon mustard and any particular herb I liked that day. And throwing in a few roasted garlic cloves wasn't bad either... - 2/21/2011 10:59:09 PM
  • Great article! Personally I would eat plain raw veg all day long and be very happy (I think I'm part rabbit), but the rest of my house is less enthusiastic. I don't have kids (yet) but I do have a picky husband and I'm always looking for ways to get him to eat more veg. I am definitely going to try some of these techniques.

    One thing that I have found helps is to find a preparation method that you like. I love roasting vegetables and I think that there are very few vegetables that don't taste amazing roasted. I've gotten my husband and my father-in-law to eat and LOVE brussels sprouts by roasting them and grating lemon zest over them. Both my husband and his dad swore they would never like brussels sprouts. Now my husband actually asks for them and gets excited when he sees them in the crisper! It's all about experimenting with different cooking methods to see what you like. - 10/5/2010 9:18:41 AM
  • Wow I really loved this article, Coach Nicole! I too learned how to cook as an adult (and am still learning). Although I love most vegetables, I too am discovering new ones and learning ways to cook them. Just this summer I made the organic plunge and strawberries DO taste better than conventional! Thanks for this article. - 10/1/2010 9:00:00 PM

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