What If You Don’t Like Vegetables?

chopped veggies on a cutting board

Vegetable consumption can be a struggle, especially for families. An infinite number of research studies link vegetable consumption to health but what if you don’t like vegetables?

It’s Not Just In Your Head It’s In Your Taste Buds!

During my food science course, we tested ourselves to find out if we had what it took to be “supertasters.” What a fun experiment! I already knew I was a super smeller – just ask my family. Supertasters typically have lots of taste buds so, foods can have strong flavors. Supertasters often report bitterness as an issue with foods that others find enjoyable. In class, we put test strips of paper on our tongues. I thought it was a trick but what a reaction from a few students in class! You would have thought they’d tried a poison apple.

My professor actually had a supertaster kit that included PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) taste test paper. PTC can taste bland, bitter, or even vile depending upon how sensitive your taste buds are to this chemical. This trait is passed on from parents to offspring. Supertasters are likely to find green vegetables bitter, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, and kale. Other foods that may rank as bitter to supertasters are grapefruit and coffee.

Ok, Maybe You Are a Supertaster, So, Now What?

Sauté, roast, blend, dip, and combine! Supertaster or not veggies are a key ingredient to health and avoiding chronic disease. But, can you truly fill half your plate with vegetables? Yes!

  • Add some pizzazz to your veggies along with healthy fats by using olive oil, salt, and spice to sauté your veggies. Roasting veggies often brings out their sweetness so, try different preparation methods.
  • Discover a dressing, sauce, or dip that you love. For me, it is a great tomato sauce on zucchinis, eggplant, and spaghetti squash. Also, Tessa Mae’s salad dressings make me look forward to fresh, mixed green salads. Kale with a sweet peanut dressing makes me swoon!
  • Veggies are the perfect vector for hummus, dips, and nutbutter. Raw snap peas, bell peppers, and carrots are actually sweet and easily prep to eat with dips. Ants on a log is an old classic with peanutbutter and celery. On the other hand pizza can be a good vector for veggies! Load up your pie with all the veggie fixings you want.
  • Try combinations. For example, serve regular pasta with vegetable noodles which makes a great primavera. You might even consider adding puréed veggies to your pasta sauce. Serving rice? Consider adding half cauliflower rice or mash your potatoes with half cauliflower. Toss greens of any kind into your favorite soup!
  • Veg out in the morning. Another combination – zucchini or carrot muffins. Pumpkin pancakes or waffles for the win! Chocolate shakes disguise baby spinach in the best way possible and I love veggies with my eggs – spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and salsa!
Remember WHY You Want to Try!
  • Vegetables are full of nutrients that your body really needs and are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.
  • They take up space, provide volume with few calories, and fill you up keeping you feeling satisfied.
  • Vegetables contain fiber which feeds our microbiome or intestinal bacteria. Fiber also helps keep us regular.
  • Vegetables are hydrating! You don’t have to drink all of your water because your veggies contain some too.
  • Veggies are an easy way to get adventurous and seasonal. Try a new veggie this week – what do you have to lose? Support local farms and pick up a new variety at your farmer’s market or farm stand and start living on the edge.

If you still find yourself struggling to come up with great veggie recipe ideas ask a friendly Registered Dietitian for some suggestions or even a meal plan if you are up for a re-vamp in your vegetable game.

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