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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Our family loves veggies but I have to admit we usually eat them plain. These are great ideas - thanks. Now I can prepare some of our favorites to taste like the yummy ones we order in restaurants. It's nice that we don't have to sacrifice taste to eat healthy. Report
I already love my veggies, my hubby and I both. We get excited when the farmers market opens in may. I don't however like meat. Report
I have always loved veggies, I could practically live off of them without missing meat. I need a new spin on what to do with my veggies, like adding new flavors or pasta. Report
lucky me that i am a veggie lover!! asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, okra, you name it if it is a veggie i love it!! but love the tips on cooking them healthy and tasty have to try some on my meat and potato loving hubby :) Report
Oh my god, I'm in veg heaven, it looks sooooooo delicious...I am roasting this week! Report
I think I will try roasting some veggies tomorrow. Sounds yummy1 Report
I eat a huge salad with my evening meal and have tried to like more veggies. It's not easy being a "meat and potatoes only" Midwesterner, but I am trying to be open to new experiences! Report
I already love my veggies but these are some great ideas! Report
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. I like veges, but I don't love them. I have a feeling I'm going to fall in love with my veges after I try some of your hints. Report
I love vegies! Cooked and raw, just about any way you can serve them. Report
Getting a variety of vegetables is hard for me. Part of it is what is available in my little town, and part of it is my picky husband who is just not open to new stuff, but whatever the reason, we're in a rut where we seldom try new vegetables or any vegetable done a new way. You've given me lots of places to start, so I'm looking forward to trying some of your suggestions. Report
i love vegetables... even brussels sprouts. I eat them steamed and then with olive oil and vinegar/lemon, saute with garlic or roasted... I like them cooked, I am not a raw vegetable person, except for salad!
Looks like some yummy suggestions! Report
good stuff! Report
great ideas Report
This is great information. I love veggies, but am always looking for new recipes that might interest the kids Report
Great tips -- I have always been a veggie eater, but it's great to get some tips to switch things up! Report
I love nothing more than crunchy fresh vegetables straight out of the dirt, but they've got to be fresh. I also like all of the hints - especially the puree one: my nieces and nephew love "dippy" and will scarf down anything I puree and offer as a dip for their crackers or carrot sticks. Report
I love veggies, but green beans...I think I have eaten too many of them when I was on diets in the past. Now that I'm just eating healthy (that's how I look at it) I still cannot face them. I might try roasting them, though. Report
Thanks for the veg tips! Report
Thanks! Report
I don't need to take the challenge. I used to grow a 3,000 square foot garden when we lived in the country in Montana. My entire family LOVES vegetables and my now grown children eat more vegetables than sweets! Report
I like mine steamed with some salt. I am not picky. I kind of prefer things to be relatively plain (also helps the GERD/heartburn to have it plain). Report
Loved the blog. Copied the recipes. always need new ways to get my kids to enjoy veggies. Thanks! Report
Love the blog and copied the recipes. Will for sure try them. Always looking for ways to get my kids to enjoy veggies. Report
personally I love veggies, but these tips will come in handy since I detest cooking and need to start doing it again. Plus my son's girlfriend is a vegetarian and I think she could benefit from these tips. Thanks Report
VEGGIES ROCK!!! I have been a horrible vegetarian for 6 years now, but Im changing my lifestyle habits around! I do love vegetables, but have not been eating enough healthy protein and way too much unhealthy carbs! Thanks for this article, as it was very helpful!!! :) Report
As I mentioned at Convention - after reading a blog you wrote this summer I began roasting veggies and now I'm hooked. I fill a whole tupperware fix n mix bowl - which I have to use 2 large cookie sheets to roast them and because they taste so good - my calorie count is rather high - simply because I only get 4 servings out of all of that! But what a way to go! Report
I'm so in! Like many others have said, I already love veggies. This will give me so many more techniques for myself and for the kids in my life! Thank you for the ideas. Report
I am in! Like veg anyway, this will be fun Report
Great and useful blog--but I already love my veggies--always have--my Mom told a story that when I was a baby in a high chair she gave me a stalk of asparagus and I happily munched away. This was in the 40's---ok now you all know how old I am!! Report
I love reading this blog...this is the first time i've stopped to say something....I'm sharing this with my son who has been catering a veg/yoga group in north florida.....i think it will give him some new ideas to work with there Report
Great article...I have tried some of these ideas with my husband. He would never try some of these veggies by them self. This article has given me even more ideas and throwing a few more in the mix. Report
I am always looking for new ways to prepare veggies,thank you. Report
Thanks for these ideas. I do eat veggies willingly but I'm often in a rut with them. I am saving this to my favorites! Report
I like most veggies but my husband won't eat most of them. This challenge is great and the suggestions are even better. Saved the blog and will share it with others. Thank you Report
I like most veggies, but it's hard for me to know what to DO with them! Thanks for the great ideas--I will try them! Report
LOVE ALL my veggies & I LOVE to create different dishes with them.. Great artical.. Thanks!! Report
I really dislike veggies (other than spinach and asparagus) and rarely eat them. I'll have to start my own learn to love veggies challenge. Some of your suggestions might actually work. Report
I like veggies, I added some baby carrots to pork chops I was baking in the oven and the taste was yum-o, I will try some of these ideas, maybe more taste will get my DH to eat more veggies. Will save this to my favorites for future reference. Thanks for all the great tips. Report
I love, love, love vegies! I need to learn to love fruit, lol. Not a big fruit person. Just berries mainly. Report
Thanks to my mom, I LOVE VEGGIES! I also love experimenting with garlic and onions (which is an obsession). When I want a nice meal, I'll sautee zucchini, peppers, onions, and mushrooms with a oil and sometimes teriyaki sauce, boil up some rice, mix it together, put a little Ranch dressing mix in there, and viola! Report
I love veggies already but what fantastic ideas! I saved to my favorites Report
i love vegetables very much ..raw grilled or even cooked yummy Report
Thanks for the great ways to enjoy veggies. I was one of those people who tried eating them plain without much success. Now I add a spritz of lemon or lime juice to them to brighten up the flavour and really enjoy them. Report
Most of the veggies I enjoy eating are really considered carbs like corn. So I will take all the help I can get to increase the variety and quantity of veggies in my diet. I even bought and like using Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious that "sneaks" pureed vegetables into everyday dishes like meatloaf or cookies. I will definitely try all of these tips in the new year. Thanks! Report
Totally agree wtih all of this, especially roasting. I LOVE roasted veggies, particularly broccoli and cauliflower. So yummy. Report
i have no problem getting veggies into my food plan. But I learned a few ideas here to make them even tastier. Thanks. Report
I am not a veggie lover, but have used lemon and olive oil to aid in the taste. Don't have a food processor, so not sure how to make some of these. Will definitely use the laughing cow cheese since I love that. Great idea. Also, I drink V-8 juice everr day at lunch to help with the fact that I don't like veggies a whole lot. Report
Have always loved veggies, even as a kid. Thanks for the new recipes though as it is always fun to try something new! Report
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