Leading The Good Life

So Many Ways to Eat Your Veggies!

I'm lucky because I love vegetables. I'd choose them over fruit 9 times out of 10. You might argue that, "Well, you're vegetarian, of course you like vegetables," but I'd counter with "That is not a rule." There are plenty of vegetarians out there that don't like vegetables. If you think about it, a PB& J and mac 'n cheese only diet is technically vegetarian...albeit not balanced in any way...so the pickiest 4 year olds may actually be vegetarian by default.

Anyway, I feel lucky because vegetables are good for us, so I'm glad they're not a struggle for me to eat. And there are so many ways to enjoy them! If you think you don't like vegetables, give another cooking method a try. Maybe you just don't like raw veggies. Or mushy veggies. Or, god help us, canned veggies. Depending on how you cook them, vegetables can be spicy, savory, sweet, crunchy, or creamy. You're bound to find something you like!


Roasting brings out so much flavor in vegetables. It caramelizes the sugars and can impart a smokiness. Roasted red bell peppers are very popular, but I'd argue that cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and, my favorite, brussels sprouts, should not be overlooked!


Grilling is another great way to add a smoky flavor to vegetables. Unlike meats, getting a bit of char on veggies is NOT carcinogenic. You'll probably see lots of veggie kebabs make their way to a grill this summer. Some tips for making your own are a) soak bamboo skewers in water first to prevent burning and b) only put one type of veggie on each skewer. Yes, they look very appealing with several alternating colors, but cooking times will vary by vegetable. It doesn't matter how pretty your kebabs are if all of the tomatoes are burnt and all of the peppers are raw!


A quick saute is a great way to get cooked vegetables that are still a bit crispy (think stir-fry.) Almost anything is a candidate here, but you'll want to make sure things are cut up about the same size so they all need the same cooking time. Or, start with the heartier veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, etc) and let them cook a few minutes before adding the softer ones (zucchini, onions, etc.)


Ok, I suppose eating vegetables raw is an obvious answer. Here, I think the key is in how each veggie is cut. Raw squash or zucchini? Doesn't sound very appealing. But if you grate either one, it makes for a terrific salad topper. (Learned that one from the Whole Foods salad bar!) Also, try to figure out what you like. In a salad I like crunchy veggies (peppers and carrots) chopped small but don't mind softer veggies (cucumbers and tomatoes) on the larger side. (Try this raw, shredded squash salad!)


Blanching is basically a quick boil followed by an ice bath to shock/stop the cooking process. This keeps your vegetables crisp-tender and is my favorite way to eat cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc) on top of a salad. I find that they are less dry and easier to digest this way. It's also a great way to serve them with dips!


Pureed vegetable soups are some of my favorite ways to eat a variety of veggies at once. They puree up into a thick, rich soup without the need for cream. And you can give them tons of flavor with curry powder, salsa, or spices. I especially like this spicy summer bisque, this curried cauliflower soup, and Angela's creamy roasted tomato and coconut soup.


Ricing is like one step coarser than pureeing. You're looking for something with more of a "rice" texture, rather than something smooth. Cauliflower is a great alternative for potatoes when using this technique.


If you want to eat veggies but not really know you're doing it (or if you're cooking for someone who you'd like to "trick" into eating their veggies), it is really easy to conceal them. Almost anything can be blended into tomato sauce or chili (peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, etc). Add a little cinnamon and sugar, and veggies baked into muffins are a huge hit (zucchini, squash, and carrots all come to mind.) I've also heard of mixing pureed squash into macaroni in cheese, but I haven't tried this one out myself.


I realize this is probably the hardest sell, but greens in smoothies is really good! Adding spinach to a peanut butter and banana smoothie really only changes the color, not the taste, I swear! If you can get past the murky look, you'll be eating veggies with your dessert in no time. Try it in an opaque cup with a lid and straw to really trick yourself.


Depending on the combination, vegetable juices can taste like veggies or fruit, you choose. I actually think celery and cucumber make excellent juices. So refreshing! If you're worried you won't like it, combining one or the other with fresh apple or pineapple juice may be more pleasing to you. Those juices are very sweet, so it's pretty much all you taste. Carrot juice is another sweet option, but it's slightly thicker and tastes distinctly of carrots (imagine that!) which could be a good or bad thing depending how you feel about them.

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