I DARE You to Learn to Love Veggies

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In my free time, I like to read healthy living blogs, and one of my favorites is Healthy Tipping Point, which is written by Caitlin, who also writes OperationBeautiful.com. Caitlin is a vegetarian who eats very balanced meals, so I was surprised to learn that she didn't really love

vegetables. As soon as I took a closer look at her meals, I realized why: She was eating them plain!

I issued her the Learn to Love Veggies Challenge. She took up the gauntlet and commenced the vegetable adventure.

Now, it's your turn!

Choose a few of these tips and implement them into your weekly meals. They're all pretty simple and affordable.

1. Add olive oil/lemon/garlic:

Sautéing garlic in a bit of olive oil and adding lemon zest and juice really brings out great flavor. This technique works great with broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, sugar snap peas and zucchini.

Try this recipe: Broccoli Everyone Will Love

2. Changing the texture:

Changing the way you cut vegetable can affect how they taste. Try these tips the next time you cook vegetables:
  • Slice green beans, asparagus and carrots (fresh or frozen) on the diagonal.
  • Shred (using a food processor) or grate sweet potatoes, broccoli stems, and zucchini.
  • Thinly slice (using the slicing attachment on a food processor) or using a chef's knife cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and snap peas.
  • Slice or shred lettuce, spinach and other greens.
  • It can seem less overwhelming to see a cup of chopped vegetables rather than several really large pieces.
  • Purée any cooked vegetable with a bit of vegetable broth or low-fat milk and season to taste for an easy soup or side dish.
Try this recipe: So You Think You Hate Veggies? Green Beans

3. Roasting

This technique works for any root vegetable: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, carrots, butternut and acorn squash, even radishes. You can also roast broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, okra, and peppers. It's best to roast root vegetables separate from green vegetables as their cooking times will vary.
  • Halved Brussels sprouts are particularly good when roasted!
  • I like to sprinkle on a favorite spice blend (Cajun or creole, cumin/salt/pepper, Old Bay seasoning, etc.) or dried herbs like rosemary, thyme or oregano.
  • Serve with ketchup (sometimes I stir a teaspoon of curry powder into my ketchup--so good!).
  • This is a good recipe to use when you're trying new vegetables.
Find details here: The Magical Cooking Technique That Will Get You to Eat Your Veggies Choose one new vegetable this week and roast it!

4. "Cream" sauce

Make your ordinary steamed vegetables a bit more decadent with a bit creaminess. I like to mix light cream cheese, low-fat sour cream (with herbs) or a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese with steamed broccoli, peas or cauliflower.

No-recipe recipe: Try this on your choice of vegetables.

5. "Pancakes" or quiches/frittatas

I saw Caitlin's recipe for broccoli-cheese frittata. That's a great way to get in some vegetables. Try chopped tomatoes or red/orange/yellow peppers next time, too--or a shredded carrot.
  • This is a great way to get in your greens. Try spinach, Swiss chard or another green chopped and cooked with eggs. Add onions or peppers for some added flavor.
  • I like to make zucchini skillet cakes for dinner. You can also use sweet potatoes (see the recipe's notes on changing the seasonings) or add another kind of squash or carrots, too. These are good topped with a chopped tomato-onion salad drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette.
Try this recipe: Zucchini Pancakes Recipe; this is more like a meal than a side dish.

6. Low-calorie flavor boosters: lemon juice, capers, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes

Keep some of these ingredients on hand to instantly perk up bland vegetables:
  • Lemons (or even bottled lemon juice)--adds zing
  • Onions/peppers/garlic--these vegetables are called "aromatics" for a reason. They add flavor and aroma to any dish. Try sautéing any combination of these with your vegetables for a burst of flavor.
  • Capers--add a salty burst
  • Roasted red peppers--these are sweet and great with green beans, broccoli and cauliflower. Chop them finely or purée with olive oil, salt and pepper for a quick sauce.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes--chop a couple and add them to your vegetables as they steam. They'll add a rich, sweet flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese--a sprinkle of this will add richness to your vegetables.
  • Butter--yes, it's more virtuous to eat vegetables plain, but if a small pat of butter or margarine will increase your enjoyment of your food, then dig in!
  • Remember that some vitamins require fat to be absorbed by the body, so including a bit of fat with your vegetables will make them taste better and help your body use their nutrition more efficiently.
Try these: Choose two of these ingredients and add them to your vegetables.

7. Get saucy.

Top your vegetables with your favorite sauces. Choose from:
  • Bottled curry sauce
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Pesto
  • Salsa (particularly good on baked potatoes/sweet potatoes)
  • Teriyaki/Asian sauces (I usually make my own from scratch, but you can find some good, low-sodium ones these days)
  • Hot sauce
Try this: Choose one sauce to add to your vegetables.

So what did Caitlin think? Well, she learned to love grilled squash and zucchini, roasted potatoes and carrots, and a few others. She especially liked the addition of garlic and olive oil.

Will you take the Learn to Love Veggies Challenge? If you do, send me your thoughts via email (editor@dailySpark.com), and I'll share them in a follow-up post. How do you like to eat your veggies? Do you require coaxing, or do you eat them willingly?

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"Butter--yes, it's more virtuous to eat vegetables plain, but if a small pat of butter "...
HOGSWALLOP! Many veggies are high in fat-soluble antioxidants and vitamins like A, K etc. You will GAIN far more nutrition (and flavor) from drizzling a little bit of a good quality oil (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil etc), or butter on your veggies. Margarine is not good - it is usually made with trans-fat oils. (Read your labels!) Report
I have learned to like most vegetables & don't do a lot to them. I do like seasoned rice vinegar on asparagus rather than mayonnaise. Vegetable soup helps too & grilling or toasting many orhers got my hubby to eat veggies more often, that's still hit or miss as he just isn't a big eater. Report
Thanks for the tips Report
Such great ways to cook veggies. The problem is that most people cook them into mush and they lose all of their flavor Report
I bought today on sale at my local market a 1 pound bag of shredded Zucchini,it stated to steam for 1-2 minutes. It was $1.49,another market wanted $5.00 for a smaller container. I am making supper with 3 cups of it,1 cup tomato sauce,1 cup mushrooms, 4 slices onion, 1 large orange pepper & 1/4 mozzarella shredded on top, 1 bun,1 tablespoon margarine and 1 cup 1% milk for 30 g. protein & 657 calories.It will be a large satisfying meal with enough protein in it. I eat 1600 calories a day and exercise 10 hours per. week. I was trying to use up my fresh mushrooms I have on hand. They also had thin sliced sweet potato chip slices that you can make chips with in the oven for the same price & the same size I bought.I will try them another day. Report
Yummy ! Report
Nice tips, I'm saving this! Report
Saving this article to my favorites. I love veggies, but always looking for new ways to prepare. Report
This has alot of great info! I will save and do! Report
I will save this article. Some excellent ideas. I do like my veggies steamed and sometimes with cheese, and have recently tried them with sun dried tomatoes. Thanks so much for the delightful ideas! Report
More to do with veggies than stir frying them XDD Report
Yummy for tummy! What a great article. I already love veggies--so do my grandkids & kids (I'm working on the great-grandson). Yet, your article gave me loads of ideas I never thought of. You can teach a lovely older lady new tricks. I printed out the Zucchini pancakes. Love ya, Va Report
is using velveeta cheese on broccoli bad for you? Report
Thank you for this article.......always thought of steaming veggies and it is just as great tasting grilling veggies. Need all the veggie fuel because at 70's of age I am still working. Report
The recipes look GREAT!!! Report
I enjoy vegetables, and we've always had plenty of them.
I also managed to bring up our 2 sons to eat plenty of veg - but that was by dint of preparing different stuff for different folk! I know many people frown on that, but for me it was easy enough - at least 3 out of 4 of us would eat the carrot and the broccoli, and other things gradually got added in as taste buds developed.
After more than 30 years - yes, I'm always up for new ideas, maybe even more so, now!
I'm looking forward to reading through some of these ideas and recipes more carefully.
Thank you for sharing. Report
this is a great article. i will be trying many of these, especially that broccoli frittata! Report
thanks for sharing! my husband and I enjoy cooking but it's nice to get fresh ideas. I'm going to try ketchup and cumin that sounds wonderful! Report
I don't like a lot of vegetables. That's because we didn't eat a lot of them growing up in my house. When we did have them, they were cooked soul food style (lots of pork) which I know now is not healthy. Stir frying is a Godsend for me and I am now getting to like steamed cabbage.
And yes, for me, I will not eat something I don't like and if I have to smother it in something unhealthy to eat it, then why bother? Report
Good Tips! I think I'll buy some veggies tonight to add to my dinner! Report
I love veggies-am trying to be a part -vegan at least!love raw food recipes and shakes and juices!Will gladly join the challenge! Report
Love my veggies!! But, you have included tips that I think will add variety to what I do!! Thanks!!! Report
We used to grill a lot of veggies until we moved to a 9th floor condo and the fire marshall says NO GRILLS! Then we bought a Cuisinart Panini grill. I just toss whatever (green beans and asparagus work very well) in a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle on some rosemary or italian seasoning (I use the spices designed to mix with olive oil and dip bread in) , toss it with my hand and put on the grill for 6-8 minutes, close the top and inhale the great aromas. A George Foreman or any such grill would work as well. Green peppers, onions, small cut broccoli, eggplant, zucchini all would be great! You can grill them soft or crisp tender and the olive oil adds only a few calories but does add a healthy fat! Report
I have a very limited ability in how to prepare vegetables. As I am trying to incorporate more veggies and fruits into my daily meals, it sure would be helpful to find different ways to prepare and serve them. I would love this challenge as I enjoy collecting new recipes, learning new ways of preparing foods, and love to experience the flavors of new foods. JuliaJean2 Report
I love your tips. Thanks for sharing:-) Report
I love making aluminum foil packs with chicken, squash, potatoes, zucchini,onions and grilling them! Yummm! Report
Wow, I feel like the only person in the world that doesn't love veggies! : ) I have to admit I usually eat them plain because I'm not interested in anything but choking them down. This is a good blog & I will take the challenge. Thanks! Report
I love veggies! As a matter of fact, when I have a dining out meal, I often follow it with a veggie and fruit only meal. That way, I feel lighter and less stuffed when I go to sleep! Report
I also use several flavors of Mrs. Dash to flavor veggies including lightly steaming them or stir frying them. Mrs. Dash is great for those who shouldn't add salt but want flavor. Report
Great tips! Looking forward to trying some of these. Report
I loved all of the suggestion and plan to try several. Great ideas.
Barely getting started. Report
I loooove Veggies! It's the meat I can do without :) Report
Some really good ideas Report
I love veggies! Now can anyone tell me ways to get to love meat just as much? Report
Love my veggies!! Report
I love sauteed and roasted veggies! I often make a meal out of just that! Report
I never understood people that don't like vegetables in general. And even if you don't like them is it that hard to eat them anyway? I don't care for brussel sprouts, but can still eat them. Report
I'm learning to love my veggies. Salads and roasted and pureed, oh my! Rhubarb sorbet isn't bad either, and rhubarb is technically a vegetable (and broccoli and beans are technically fruit.) Report
I love my veggies plain, but I think I may try some of these techniques just to liven them a bit for a change. Report
We grill alot of our veggies, wooden skewers are cheap @ the Chinese Shops. Report
WHY does this blog post not mention one of the most obvious ways to bring out the full flavor of tasty vegetables?? (Good high-quality veggies are NEVER "bland", even raw.) I'm talking about STIR FRYING.

Everyone in my family loves veggies, kids included: stir frying is absolutely our favorite method of preparation; with a tiny bit of salt and olive oil, very light and very flavorful. (Absolutely no "steamed vegetables" in our house - yuck.) Report
I think some of my disregard came from sheer laziness.
I could eat a bowl of rice and beans in the time it takes to chew three broccoli spears.

I bought a book by Jennifer Seinfeld with recipes to sneak vegetables into children's meals. I don't cook for any children. Report
cut up with madonline any shape match works if they are raw Report
Sounds like a good one! Report
Never thought to roast brussel sprouts. Wouldn't be for very long though.
The other way to cook brussel sprouts is to sprinkle lightly with nutmeg after they are cooked. Dutch recipe. Report
Personally, I like veggies. Cooked, steamed, or raw, but getting my family to eat more of them isn't easy. They're into potatoes, pasta and meat. Don't get me wrong, they eat veggies, but don't like to try new ideas. I'll try some of these and see if they eat more veggies from now on. Thanks for the ideas. Report
I eat my veggies quite willingly now, not so before. Adding a little bit of pepper to your veggies adds flavor without increasing your sodium content like salt. Report
I love veggies, mostly I will have raw spinach salad, and other veggies I will used olive oil, little bit of italian dressing, lemon, mr.dash spicy seasoning, coconut oil, and jerk seasoning. Report
I eased my boyfriend into fresh veggies with the sauce/ cheese method. Then moved on to the roasting method. Now he eats broccoli, brussel sprouts, sauteed spinach.. . Only vege still at bay... cauliflower! Report
I love veggies. Report