Learn to Love Vegetables: 8 Tips

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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.

Add some flavor. When cooking vegetables, it usually takes just a little bit of flavor to make them more appetizing. I'm not a fan of plain vegetables either. I don't think many people are. But you can add flavor (and nutrition) to raw veggies with healthy dips like hummus (great with carrots, celery, sliced peppers, cucumbers and more) or your favorite salad dressing (yep, it works for things other than salads). When cooking vegetables, most taste great with just a little salt, pepper and garlic. But I find that sautéed onions and garlic make just about anything taste good, so I often cook those first and then add some vegetables to the mix, which brings me to my next point.

Learn how to cook! I've had to teach myself how to cook as an adult. I come from a family of…whatever word exists to describe the opposite of a chef. Cooking has become quite a hobby for me and it's surprisingly fun, relaxing, entertaining and interesting. So how'd I learn to cook? Mostly by trial and error. But I can't take all the credit. I read books and magazines and would call my cooking friends to ask how to prepare a random vegetable that I bought at the store. Little by little, you'll pick up knowledge and learn how to make food taste (and look) great. Even if it doesn't come out perfectly, you'll still learn what NOT to do, and that's a step in the right direction.

Try, try again. Most of you are probably parents who have to deal with picky eaters on a regular basis. What most feeding experts will tell you is that a child has to try a food several different times before they might being to like it. What's true for kids is the same for adults. There are foods that I swear I hated my entire life that now, I really like. I just kept trying them in new ways, in different combinations, etc. I used to think I hated strawberries because I had never had a strawberry that I ever liked. But a couple years ago, I was on a mission to find that perfect strawberry, because I just knew I'd like it if I just found a good one. And what do you know—I did. And in the process I learned that, to me, organic tastes best. And so does freshly picked berries in summer (when they're at the peak of freshness and flavor), so I only eat them then. I also learned what color they should be to taste perfect. This is just one example of how you can't write off a food, especially if it's been a very long time since you last tried it.

Learn the seasons. Seasonal food is fresher, healthier, and all around better tasting. Strawberries in winter and pumpkin in summer doesn't make much sense, even if you find it in the grocery. Go to your farmer's market and talk to the growers of all things green. They'll tell you what's good and how to eat it too.

Look for veggie-packed dishes when dining out. Restaurants sure know how to make anything taste good, and that applies to vegetables too. Think outside the box. Order a vegetable side dish or a vegetarian meal instead of your usual meal. I learned that even though it looks weird and kinda gross, I sort of like eggplant sandwiches. I haven't learned how to make them on my own yet, but a local restaurant sure does a good job, so I'm leaving it to them.

Do some reading. I recommend the following resources to help you love veggies a little more.
  • Vegetarian Times Interestingly, most of their subscribers aren't vegetarians—just people interested in eating more vegetables or healthy food in general. I adore this magazine, which is more than just recipes. It's chockfull of cooking techniques and tips, interesting bits of information about food, and a super eco-friendly spin. I'd recommend it to anyone interesting in eating healthier.
  • Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison I recently picked up this cookbook, but like the magazine above, it's far more than recipes. Learn cooking tips, food preparation techniques, and all sorts of useful kitchen information, such as how to cook and prepare beans, homemade bread and seasonal foods.
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan Need inspiration to eat more plants? Look no further.

Are you a picky eater when it comes to vegetables? How do you make them more palatable? Share your insights in the comments below!

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MUSICNUT 2/2/2021
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
RAZZOOZLE 8/12/2020
thank you Report
POPPAPEL 7/16/2020
I'll give some a try Report
REDROBIN47 6/22/2020
These are good tips. Thanks. Report
I love to eat veggies! My favorites are, corn, fried okra, beets and green beans! Report
Good article. Report
Nice Information For vegetable blog comment . Keep up the good Work . Thank you

I agree that we can grow accustomed to liking vegetables. I ate Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable soup as a kid in rotation with tomato & green pea. Real vegetables served as a side were corn on the cob, broccoli (at different stages I preferred the florets or the stalks - not both at the same time for years), peas, (canned & later frozen), pickled beets, green beans. I couldn't gag down spinach or asparagus, & ate mushrooms in spaghetti sauce & later on combo pizza. Eggplant was something I refused to even try. Over the years, csmp, hot lunch programs, sleepovers at friends' homes, vegetarian roommates, & other cultures exposed me to different foods. Joining WW encouraged me to try new recipes & checkout dishes that other people liked. Then I became a credit manager for a large produce grower & shipper who gave us free vegetables sometimes. By then I was making soup regularly & mixing all sorts of combinations, trying various herbs & spices. Today there is little I don't eat & know how to prepare most of it a couple different ways. Steamed artichokes, eggplant parmesan, marinated & grilled squashes, many varieties of peppers like stuffed bells or chile rellenos (authentic pasilla & Americanized Anaheim each w/ it's own type of cheese & sauce), beet borscht hot or cold, both summer (marinated & grilled on kabobs) & winter (baked or sauteed w/ apple slices), roasted cauliflower, etc. The list goes on & on. Casseroles are also great & anything w/ a sauce. For salad dressing, try making your own. If you like creamy this one is zero fat: Equal parts soft tofu blended w/ ACV & a small amount of apple cider or juice. Add frozen pkg of berries & you can also add garlic or onion powder, turmeric, dry mustard & paprika. Or substitute tomato juice for half ACV & skip berries. There are so many great ways to eat vegetables! I think many ppl had them overcooked & the texture or smell put them off. Keep trying & tasting do you can find all the ones you like too. Report
I’m a huge fan of vegetables. Report
Great article, thank you! Report
Definitely need help with eating my veggies. Report
Great article! Thanks! Report
I now love my vegetables and enjoy seeking out ones I haven't tried yet. Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
Great info. Thanks. Report
thanks Report
I love most fruits and vegetables! Report
thanks Report
Thanks for sharing such great ideas! Report
This is an excellent article. Report
Blew me away with #1, I feel it's sad everything has to be recreated into something it's not. It's like the steak house selling you on seasonings. Sure a little sprinkle of something, but there is such flavor that ceases to exist the way most things are served. Then we wonder why the calorie, sodium counts are out of control. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
I love my veggies! Thanks for sharing! Report
I was not always a vegetable lover but I certainly am now. There are so many different ways to prepare them. I use all the leftovers in soup. It helps to prepare them when you get home from grocery shopping. You are more likely to use them if you don't have to stop and prepare them each time. Report
Personally, I love vegetables. I eat them with brown rice, carrots and broccoli.
Thank you for these great ideas. Report
This is a great blog. I tend to eat more fruit than veggies and I need to change that. Report
I love vegetables so I don't have a problem eating them. I try keeping them on hand. As far as being vegetarian I have to have my meat's on occasion Report
1. Replace carbs with veggies. Instead of eating a starch with your meat, finish off your salad.

2. Kill the taste. Cook it, add dressing to it, whatever. Roasting vegetables does miracles on every vegetable you hate!

3. Follow a meal plan. A meal plan will tell you how many veggies to eat, so you don't have to worry if you're not eating enough. It may also introduce a new recipe which will make vegetables tasty! Report
I'd love to see a 30 day challenge to eat more veggies. Having a tip a day of how to eat more veggies and make them taste good would be oh so helpful to me. fwiw :) Report
I am pretty new to the vegatarian world and I am looking for new resources. I have decided to cut meat out of my diet, for now. This decision has forced me to figure out how to shop and cook in a whole new way. Your article is very good. Thank you for the links to the books and website. Report
I love vegetables; however, I do need to expand my horizon and try different ones. Report
This was so helpful! I always buy vegetables but then I just leave them in my freezer or the cabinet. At least when (if) I buy fresh veggies my incentive is to eat them before they go bad, but with canned stuff there's no such incentive so the obvious next step is making myself do it! And it's not that I don't like veggies; I can just never find the motivation to actually eat them, but I know I have to! Report
OH DEAR ME !! I am a veggie HATER FROM WAY BACK WHEN !! I just read this and ALL the comments, some which are quite good, such as making the veggies very small and "sneaking" them into food. So yeah tomorrow I'll try that with the FEW I have here, that a "friend" (sure she's a FRIEND giving me THOSE ! LOL) gave me. OH MY ! Report
OH DEAR ME !! I am a veggie HATER FROM WAY BACK WHEN !! I just read this and ALL the comments, some which are quite good, such as making the veggies very small and "sneaking" them into food. So yeah tomorrow I'll try that with the FEW I have here, that a "friend" (sure she's a FRIEND giving me THOSE ! LOL) gave me. OH MY ! Report
I love this article, I am just getting into healthy eating, and am having a bit of issues getting in all my veggies. Report
Gr8 tips! Report
I love salads, soups, and stews. I find it's a great way to get a variety of vegetables, and there is something - a sauce, dressing, or seasoning - that makes them tasty. My brother is a vegetable hater and a food mixer - he finds his food tastes a lot better when he puts a bit of everything on his plate onto his fork. I find it especially odd when he mixes spaghetti with tossed salad, but it works for him - and he is actually eating the salad. Report
Loved the suggestions! Very helpful! Thanks! Report
awesome article. I have found that broc. tastes great in spag. especially if you eat it vegatarian style,it gives it texture and added crunch.(cook brc. first before adding it to your sauce. It is a great way to get your kids to eat bro. My husband likes it even though he likes meat in his sauce-we take turns on haveing meat in the sauce, but either way we always add the broc. Also want to thank everyone for their comments also. Report
Thanks for the great ideas! Report
I love vegetables, but I didn't know how to make them taste BETTER. Thanks for the tips. Report
I love most all veggies and my favorite way of cooking them has become roasting them in the oven a little drizzle of olive oil and garlic - great and more flavorful than boiling them to death! Report
I have always loved veggies. I just don't like to prepare them. Report
I love veggies!!! I think I have always been really good about eating them... This post does help though to find new ways for my family and myself to enjoy them... Report
If you have a garden, make sure you put some marigolds in the rows also. It will help keep the bugs off your plants. It may help some and not all. I do this every time I have a garden.

I like my salads and could eat them all the time too. Besides when you home grown your own, you know what has been used on them. Cherry tomatoes are really good and you can eat them anytime Report
I dislike veggies, particularly in the winter, when they lack flavour and taste kind of like whatever they're packaged in. Love fruit, not a veggies fan. When I do work towards eating my veggies, it's often in a stir fry. Salads are not my friend. Sad, but true. I'm thinking I might start trying fritattas and such to get in more veggies and protein, since that's the other thing I have a hard time getting enough of. Report
I'm learning to like more veggies. Broccoli has never been a problem for me. But some of the ones I don't particularly care for I cook b/c my husband likes them so I usually use a low fat chicken broth to cook them in. This helps me. I have never liked peppers--red or green--but my husband says they are really good for you, so I guess my next challenge lies in acquiring a taste for them.

Peas are a real problem as I have "flashbacks" of having to sit and eat everyone of those aweful canned things when I was a child. It was raw punishment! I do, though, like the frozen ones! But to this day I don't eat as much of them as I probably should b/c of the bad memory. Report
I have always had a hard time getting most veggies down, hard to chew and swallow what you don't like, regardless of how they were fixed. I have found I can make a packet of Lipton Noodle soup on Monday and I started adding a little bit of finely chopped broccoli and spinach to it, and some pressed garlic, and at the end, stir in a couple of stirred eggs. Then I divide it up into four portions and have lunch for 4 days. Over the last 2 months, I have been able to add way more vegetables, for me the trick is to keep them tiny. I grate a whole carrot, a small zuchini, chop a handful of spinach, a few pieces of broccoli, cilantro, a few mushrooms and some herbs from my aerogrow. The flavor of the soup still comes through and I'm happy to be able to eat these veggies now, I hope someday to be able to say I LIKE veggies... Report
I absolutely despise vegetables except for green beans, lettuce and corn which really lettuce and corn are pretty much not healthy and don't count. I grew up not eating vegetables so my taste buds just never got accustomed to them. I can't wait to try some of these tricks. I love macaroni and cheese so maybe if I chop up the broccoli really really fine I can slip it in that and see if I can handle it and perhaps doing the same with my turkey burgers. Can you chop up vegetables really finely and mix them with your turkey meat to make hamburgers? I am excited! Thanks for the tips! Report
I can't wait to start trying some of these for my girls. Well some we already do, like mixing corn, peas and carrots with mac and cheese for them. The girls love to add it themselves. They feel part. But I want (and they need) more veggies. They love straight fruits though. Like apples, oranges, bananas and so forth. Nuts as well, it's the veggies that lead to challenges. Report