Numerous times on this site, we've recommended eating vegetables. They're an essential part of a healthy diet and are important for nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and compounds your body needs. They're a core part of weight loss programs, diets, and cleanses.
Unfortunately, many people have simply failed to get a taste for vegetables. Whether it's because you grew up with poorly cooked broccoli and spinach from a can, or you just never liked the taste of brussels sprouts, you may have gone through a significant part of your adult life avoiding all but the most basic of veg.
If this describes you, good news! We're here to help. We've compiled ten tips you can use to help add more veg to your diet, in a pleasant way.
1. Use a Green Blend Supplement
The first and easiest option we recommend for getting your daily dose of vegetable nutrients is a supplement. Why force yourself to eat vegetables when you know you don't like them? You need the nutrients, the vitamins, and the minerals, but you don't need to suffer through the experience of preparing, cooking, chewing, and swallowing those plants.
Green supplements come in many forms. Ours, for example, is this powder. It's a blend of many green superfoods, including raw chlorophyll, wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella, spinach, broccoli, kale, kelp, parsley, celery, grape seed extract, dandelion, matcha, acai, and Garcinia Cambogia.
As you can see, it's mostly leafy greens and green compounds like algae, with green tea. Acai gives it some sweetness as well. It's a super green powder that is easy to add to beverages or shakes.
Now, green powders can be a bit intense if you've never had them before, especially if you're just mixing them into a carrier like water. They're very "planty" and earthy in flavor, and they can stand out if you're sensitive to them. If you prefer, you can pack up some of the powder into capsules and take those as supplements instead. Or you can find a different supplement elsewhere; the important part is that you get your nutrients.
2. Start Making Green Smoothies
A green smoothie is just a smoothie with veggies in it. You've probably seen things like V8 at the store before; we're not going that far. V8 is vegetable juices, and while it can be pretty tasty, you're more likely to be looking for something to hide the veggie flavor, not accentuate it.
Green smoothies can be just like normal smoothies, full of fruit and sweet ingredients, with something vegetal added to it to give you the nutrients. Fruit flavors are much stronger than vegetable flavors, so they'll easily overpower the vegetables. You'll see the color, but you won't get much of the flavor.
There are hundreds of green smoothie recipes out there because it's really easy to make them. Just take your favorite smoothie recipe and add some veg to it. For example, taking kale, spinach, or a spoonful of super green powder and adding it to your smoothie is all you need. Alternatively, add some carrots or even avocado to the mix.
3. Try Them Again
When you were a kid and developed a distaste for vegetables, chances are there were some very powerful reasons for that. Spinach from a can is a soggy mess that looks unappetizing at best. Frozen vegetables are often freezer-burned. The most common way to prepare vegetables was to steam them, and that tends to accentuate a kind of plant-based astringency in the veg, without adding any flavor to it.
At the same time, some vegetables have been selectively bred or even genetically modified over the last 30-odd years to be, well, better. One of the strongest examples of this is every kid's worst nightmare: the brussels sprout.
Brussels sprouts are bitter little cabbage-like plants, but did you know that over the last few decades, a selective breeding program has removed a lot of the bitterness from them? It's true!
The point is, your palate (and the composition of the vegetables themselves) has changed since you were a kid. Trying various veggies again with an open mind might open up a wonderful new world of plant-based deliciousness - if you only give it a try.
You can always try a new recipe or try cooking them differently. Those brussel sprouts that most kids aren't a fan of - what if you cook them with some dates, bacon, and seasoning?
4. Buy Fresh
Frozen veggies have gotten a lot better than they used to be, but they're still pretty bad compared to fresh vegetables. You can blanch and freeze your own if you want to save them for later. Fresh veg universally tastes better, so long as you're getting good veg, not grocery store veg that has been chosen for its looks rather than its ripeness or maturity.
Canned veg, don't even get us started. There's a role for some canned veg, but fresh will pretty much always win out over canned. Not only are these vegetables heavily processed, but they're also packed in preservatives to keep them in the cans, and that's never a good thing.
If you can, build a habit of going to a farmer's market and picking veg that's in season. Talk to the farmers manning the booths about what to look for. Who knows? Maybe you'll gain a greater appreciation for the vegetables outside of just eating them.
5. Find a Gateway Vegetable
We're not saying you have to like all vegetables right away, or even that you have to like all vegetables. One trick that works for a lot of people is finding a "gateway" vegetable. The gateway vegetable is a vegetable you try with an open mind and discover that you enjoy it. It might not be broccoli or cauliflower, it might be something a little less common.
Nerd Fitness recommends a method called 20 seconds of courage. What you do is pick a vegetable you haven't tried before, and give yourself 20 seconds to try a bite. Avoid the "this is going to taste awful" mindset! You want to keep an open mind. You've never tried it before, you have no idea what it'll be like, so just try a bite. If you don't like it, you don't like it, and that's fine! Move on to another vegetable next time.
Sooner or later, you'll probably find a vegetable in some form that you like. Maybe it's bacon-wrapped asparagus. Maybe it's sweet potato fries. Maybe it's zucchini noodles. Whatever it is, it's a gateway; you tried it, you like it, and hey, maybe vegetables aren't so bad after all. From there, expand your options.
6. Try Sweet Vegetables First
Some people don't like vegetables because they're a bit bitter, a bit salty, a bit earthy, and they don't suit the typical American palate of sweet and carb-loaded goodness. The thing is, the world of vegetables is very large. Potatoes are a vegetable, after all, and even the most staunch veg-hater won't turn down French fries, right?
Sweeter vegetables can be almost like fruit, and they can be served in ways that accentuate that sweetness. Yams or Sweet Potatoes, for example, can be baked and served with butter and brown sugar. Who doesn't love sugar?
Sweet corn, sweet potatoes, bell peppers (particularly the orange and yellow varieties), cooked carrots, and raw peas are all very sweet options.
7. Add Your Favorite Seasoning
Maybe you're not much of a cook, or maybe you are and you have your custom spice blends you like to use. Whether it's Mrs. Dash, the Trader Joes "Everything Bagel" seasoning, or a spice blend from McCormick that you pulled off the shelf, seasoning your vegetables liberally with a spice flavor you like can make them a lot more like the foods you enjoy.
One of the biggest problems with vegetables is that a lot of people think they're supposed to just steam them and add, at most, a little butter or salt. To that, we ask you; why? What's stopping you from coating your veg in soy sauce as part of a stir fry, or dousing it in Worcestershire sauce, or even covering it with a ranch powder? Salt and vinegar? Any spice blend that you enjoy can pair well with vegetables - when the vegetables are cooked the right way.
Try Italian herbs, Mexican spices, or even just your favorite hot pepper. Who says hot sauce needs to be limited to wings and other meat? Why not douse your veg in so much capsaicin that what's under it doesn't matter? The point is, you have options, and no one can tell you not to make what you enjoy.
8. Add Something You Love
Asparagus might not sit right with you, but you know what just about everyone likes? Bacon-wrapped asparagus. The star of the show is the bacon, of course, and the asparagus is just there to give you an excuse to eat a bunch of bacon as a side dish.
You can add bacon (or ham, or cheese, or whatever deliciousness you like) to pretty much any vegetable disk. Cauliflower can be pureed and mixed with garlic and cheese to make an adequate mashed potato replacement. Bacon can be added to just about any veggie dish, either as diced bits or as full strips wrapping around the vegetable in question.
Veggies don't have to be lonely, barely-seasoned piles of suffering on your plate. They can be a delicious, fatty, meat-filled mix-up, a stir-fry with chicken and soy, or even a subtle addition to a sauce.
9. Don't Steam Vegetables
We've mentioned this above, but steaming vegetables is almost always the worst way to cook them. It works for things like some asparagus, artichokes, and the occasional use of broccoli, but for the most part, any other way you cook veg is going to be tastier.
Grilling vegetables allows you the flexibility to add things like a bacon wrap, douse them with BBW sauce, or just layer them on top of a burger without a second thought.
Roasting vegetables lets you slather them in your favorite spices, and it gives them a nice crispiness - especially in certain kinds of vegetables, such as broccoli. Where steaming leaves them a bland mush, roasting keeps a pleasant crunch to most veg.
Stir fry vegetables are always a great addition to stir fry in general. Toss your veg with soy sauce, ginger, and other spices, add in some chicken and dump the whole thing on some rice when you're done.
Heck, you can even eat your veggies raw with a dip. A cheese sauce, a ranch dip, even a hot sauce if you like the spice. There's something for everyone in the wide world of cuisines.
10. Hide Veggies in Other Foods
If you're concerned enough about your health that you know you need to eat more vegetables, but you can't bring yourself to enjoy them no matter how much you try other spices and means of cooking them, you can always try hiding them. It works on kids, it'll work on you.
Sauces: Puree or finely dice some squash, zucchini, carrots, or another vegetable and add it to pasta sauce or a cheese sauce you use on the main course of your meal.
Soups: Much like sauces, you can puree many vegetables and add them to soups. The pureed vegetable, when cooked with the soup, adds nutrients while absorbing the flavor of the broth you're using as a base.
Meatloaf: A meatloaf is already a mostly-uniform mass of meat, egg, breadcrumbs, and spices. Add some finely diced or pureed squash, spinach, zucchini, or carrot to the meat or sauce before you make the loaf and bake it.
Curries: A curry is already more spice than substance in many cases. The sauce is the star, and any veg you add can be pureed into the sauce so it completely absorbs the flavor of the spices you use, or smothered in sauce and rice so you barely know what it is.
Fritters: If you're going to deep fry something, it's hard to argue that it's still going to taste much like the vegetables you hate at all. Mix vegetables into the batter for your fry, fry it up, top it with cheese (or whatever else you like).
At the end of the day, there are thousands of different ways to prepare, spice, hide, and eat vegetables without having to confront the fact that you're eating that childhood bogeyman. Perhaps all you need to do is broaden your horizons or try some new recipes!