There are tons of articles out there on getting kids to eat their veggies. But getting adults to eat theirs can sometimes be even more of a challenge! Most of us in the West don’t eat anywhere near enough fruit and veg. This puts us at risk of vitamin and fibre deficiencies, and more serious problems in the long-term. It’s estimated that not eating enough fruit and veg kills 3 million people every year. Many people are convinced they don’t like vegetables, but people’s tastes can change dramatically. Here’s a list of foods my boyfriend disliked when I met him:
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Some types of bean
He now eats all of the above without complaint. It makes me incredibly happy to see him getting excited about eating spinach! But how can you change your tastes so dramatically? Trial and error has taught me a few tips that I’d like to share with you.
Don’t like vegetables? Take it slow
A big plate of broccoli can be intimidating if you’re convinced you don’t like vegetables. Add more vegetables into your meals a little at a time. Chopping them small can really help, rather than trying to eat big mouthfuls of greens.
Trying one new vegetable every week is a good way to slowly build up your intake. This may be better than overwhelming your taste buds with lots of different flavours and textures.
Stop boiling everything!
A standard Western meal often consists of a lump of meat, a lump of starch and a lump of boiled veg. It’s hard to think of anything less appetising! When you boil veg, nutrients leach out into the water, often leaving the veg colourless and bland. Experiment with other ways of cooking it. Many vegetables are delicious roasted. Steaming preserves flavour and nutrients better than boiling. Some veg is delicious grilled or fried. If you don’t like a vegetable cooked one way, try it another way!
Put veg in the starring role
Rather than relegating vegetables to an unappetising side, try some recipes where they are the main feature. You could make a vegetable curry or chilli, or a warming soup or stew like ratatouille. Or try making vegetable pie, vegetable lasagne or stuffed peppers. The possibilities are endless! Check out my free vegan meal plan for more vegetable-based meal ideas.
Spice things up
I suspect one reason why many people don’t like vegetables is that they eat them plain. No one boils meat and eats it plain – they season it! Try doing the same with your veggies. That’s another reason why dishes like curry are so great. The veg absorbs some of the sauce and is incorporated into the meal rather than being left on the side. You can also add veg into milder meals like pasta sauces.
If you’re not putting your veg in a sauce, try some other seasonings and dressings. There’s mustard, salsa, salad dressing, chilli sauce, soy sauce, guacamole and so many more options to explore. However, try to limit salt and sugar in your cooking. If you overwhelm your tastebuds with salty and sugary food, vegetables are bound to taste bland in comparison.
Change the way you think about veg
If you think of eating vegetables as a chore, you’re unlikely to enjoy it. So you need to change the way you think about veg. An easy way to do this is to admire it.
This may sound silly, but hear me out. When was the last time you really looked at your food? I think vegetables are actually very beautiful. They come in such a huge variety of colours, shapes and sizes.
Admire the bright oranges of carrots and sweet potatoes, and the vibrant green of spinach and broccoli. Notice the deep reds of beetroot and red cabbage. Remember that veg is colourful because it contains antioxidants, which are vital for good health.
In a similar vein, try to really taste your veg. If you think you don’t like vegetables, you probably try to shove them in as quickly as possible so you can eat the tastier things on your plate. Don’t do that. Take the time to stop and savour each mouthful.
Think about how those vegetables will nourish your body. Be grateful for the food and the energy it will give you. I’m sure you’ll soon find yourself appreciating veg a whole lot more.
Make it fun!
My final tip for learning to love vegetables is to go beyond adding them to your meals. Think of other fun ways to add them to your diet. Try snacking on vegetable sticks dipped in hummus. Make courgette (zucchini) pizza boats. You can even put veg in your desserts! Think carrot or courgette cake, and pumpkin or sweet potato pie. If you want to go really wild, experiment with cauliflower chocolate cake or kale brownies.
You can also try spiralised vegetable noodles or cauliflower pizza crusts, though there’s no reason to eliminate whole grains from your diet.
Bonus: grow your own
If you have the time, space and inclination, growing your own veg is a lot of fun. It’s rewarding, saves you money and it tastes better. Most importantly, you’ll likely be more enthusiastic about eating veg you grew yourself.
That’s everything I can think of right now. If you have any more tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments. And if you try any of these tips, let me know how you get on. Good luck!