At War With Vegetables


I want to love vegetables. I really, really do. Fruit, I love. Fruit is, has been and will always be, my friend.

But vegetables?

Vegetables are a challenge. I'm better than I used to be, but it takes effort. Sometimes I have to puree them and sneak them into things that I actually like the taste of, in order to get them into my system. You know, like you'd do for a child.

Anyway, whether you're like me and have the vegetable leanings of a picky toddler, or whether you're like my  mother and grandmother who actually love the taste of them, you can get something from these tips. So, here we go...

Roast them. How you cook vegetables makes a huge difference in how they taste. Roasted tends to be my go-to method for cooking: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and even radishes. Generally I toss them in a little olive oil, salt, pepper (and sometimes garlic powder) and roast them at 400 degrees. The amount of time varies depending on the density of the vegetable.

Add citrus. A little squeeze of fresh lemon juice goes a long way with roasted, sauteed or steamed vegetables. A good friend of mine who's been a vegan for 20+ years once told me that the key to cooking vegetables is you need some fat and some acid. I usually opt for lemon, but lime would work on some things and I often use balsamic vinegar on things like sauteed greens.

Sneak them into other food. I often do a smoothie in the morning, and it's really easy to throw in some fresh spinach, pureed pumpkin or cooked carrot without changing the flavor at all. Other things I've tossed pureed vegetables into include: brownies, muffins, veggie burgers and cookies. Pumpkin or other squashes are easily to blend into a puree and use in place of things like butter, oil, applesauce or yogurt in some baked goods. I also often blend them into soups. I make a really good tortilla soup and blend up tons of veggies into that that I wouldn't eat if they were in chunks, floating in broth. You can add veggies to spaghetti sauce, or meatloaf without too much trouble too.

Refer to vegan and vegetarian cookbooks. Because vegetables are often the stars of vegan and vegetarian meals, they treat them especially well. My favorite recipe for collard greens came from a vegan cookbook. Even if vegetables are going to remain a supporting player in your meals, you can learn techniques for making them taste delicious and special by looking to the people who eat them as a main dish.

Try as many vegetables as you can while they're in season. It matters where and how a vegetable was grown. The taste of a tomato from my garden is very different from the ones I can buy in the store. So, eat seasonally as much as you can. Try buying at least some of your produce from your local farmer's market. Try new ones, even if you aren't sure what to do with them. Ask the vendors at the market about their favorite ways to prepare the things you're buying. They very often have great recommendations. And remember that it can take several tries of a vegetable before you begin to like it. So, play around with different ways of preparing them before you decide you don't like a vegetable.

Grow your own. I find that if I grew something myself I'm way more likely to eat it. I think that's partly because they often taste better than the store-bought stuff, but it's probably also a mental thing. There's an investment of time and energy in the stuff I grew myself, so I take pride in it and want to enjoy it.

Anyone have any other tips for hitting your daily intake of vegetables? Please share in the Comments section!