You want your family to eat more vegetables but they find vegetables boring. Healthy and boring are no longer synonymous. Let’s look at just a few ways to make veggies more exciting for the family.
A Little Bit of (Healthy) Fat
For so long we were programmed to stay completely away from all fat, including the good stuff. Well, a little bit of healthy oil can make vegetables come alive. I often chop up whatever vegetables I have on hand, mix in my favorite seasonings with a little bit of either olive oil or coconut oil, and bake them for about half an hour. It’s an easy and very tasty addition to a meal.
Cheese and Dip
A little bit of cheese or dip, like oil, can go a long way. Keep in mind that not all cheeses are equal. So consider using a little bit of cream cheese or, better yet, some goat cheese feta with your spinach, broccoli, or kale.
Blanch for Better Flavor
People in China eat so many more vegetables than do Americans. Why is that? Could it be the way they cook their vegetables? The Chinese often blanch their vegetables. Blanching means steaming vegetables for a minute or less, then immediately removing them from the heat and into cold water.
“That stops the strong flavors from developing,” according to Barbara Klein, PhD, professor emerita of foods and nutrition at the University of Illinois. The other thing that has a similar effect is stir-frying because it’s quick cooking. More tasty means no veggie leftovers!
Where do you shop for vegetables?
The best tasting vegetables are the most fresh vegetables. The longer veggies sit on a shelf or are wrapped, the more intense (and sometimes even bitter) the flavor becomes. The best place to shop for fresh vegetables is a farmers market.
“Lots of times, I’ll give somebody broccoli I picked that morning, and they’ll rave about how delicious it is, convinced it’s some gourmet variety. It’s just that fresh tastes that much better,” says Mark Farnham, a broccoli breeder and geneticist with the USDA.
There are a lot of popular cookbooks out right now with secrets on how to sneak vegetables into your favorite meals. The easiest and least “deceptive” way to do this is to throw them into a soup or stew. However, you can also add a cup of grated carrots or zucchini into muffins, breads, and even meat loaf without anyone noticing. It won’t have the same nutritional value as steamed vegetables or blanched vegetables but it’s better than nothing at all.
Don’t Deprive Yourself: Sweet Veggies
All babies are born with a natural aversion to bitter foods and a preference for sweets, says Jennifer Fisher, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.
So be sure not to forget about the sweet vegetables like yams, squash, peas, and carrots. They each have plenty of nutritional value and could make for an easy, yummy way to get some vegetables into the meal plan or routine.