So lets face it, most of us do not eat enough of our Veggies, me included. I grew up in a meat and potatoes family, I also grew up in a single parent home. My introduction to vegetables was a few canned beans or a spoonful of of canned corn thrown on my plate as an after thought. Food was quick, easy and satisfying. Little thought was given to nutrition other than being sure we each got a serving of vegetables, fruit, and milk every day.
To this day, I struggle with eating enough vegetables, I struggle to increase my portions of vegetables, and to make them the centerpiece of my meal rather than a taking up a quiet and often forgotten residence in a corner of my plate.
There are a few ways over the years I have found to either sneak veggies into my diet and the diet of my family or to dress up veggies so that they are more appealing.
The Sneak Attack
Sometimes the best way to get veggies in is to put them in with other foods in a way that makes them more palatable, I find for instance that greens eaten whole tend to upset my digestives system sometimes, but if I put greens in my smoothies because they are already broke down, they do not bother me.
Yes I said put greens in your fruit smoothies, trust me here, done right you will never know they are there. Here is what I do:
1 cup of frozen strawberries
Handful of greens such as kale,spinach, or romaine
1/4 cup walnuts or almonds
1-2 tablespoons flax
approximately 1 cup of milk
1/2 -1 teaspoon vanilla
a touch of your favorite sweetener ( honey, sugar, agave nectar)
If you cannot deal with the color of the green smoothie, you can add about 1/4 cup of blackberries or blueberries to this, the bright colors of the fruit will offset the green of the kale or spinach.
Blend all of this in a blender till completely smooth and Enjoy!
Other ways to hide vegetables to is to blend them into sauces and add them to soups or stews. You can mix them in with your meat in meat loaf or burgers, or add them to your sandwiches, do not under estimate that lettuce and tomato they all count!!!
Add vegetables to old favorites, if you make a mean enchilada add a few extra vegetables to it, sure it does not seem tradition but if you are getting your broccoli who cares?
Dress those Veggies well!!
The only problem with hiding vegetables is that you simply never learn to enjoy the panoply of flavors that is available to you from the world of natural whole foods. It is great for the interim but eventually you will need to confront those vegetables head on!
Fats are heralded as everything evil, death bringing, hip widening empty calories, to the cure for everything from cancer to the common cold. I tend to think somewhere in the middle, meaning that a little bit of judiciously used fat can be a great thing. Especially when it becomes the bridge to helping you make friends with your veggies.
Adding a bit of fat to your vegetables can make them more appealing, and help them to go down a bit better if you have digestion problems. A bit of butter, cheese, or other fat goes a long ways, opt for lower fat versions and use just enough to satisfy your palate, no more.
A bit of crunch or a salty taste can accomplish the same task, so things like crunchy onion bits, bacon bits or nuts can greatly enhance the flavor and make the vegetables stick with you longer.
Sauces that combine a strong flavor with a bit of fat also work well, marinara, pizza sauce, or ranch dressings can turn vegetables into a treat.
A Few Final Tips
Be sure to cook your vegetables right, nothing is worse than a mushy vegetable it is tasteless and it has no texture. Undercooked vegetables can cause just as many digestive problems as their raw brothers and sisters, so it is best to steer away from that if you are trying to train your stomach and palate in the finer points of vegetables. Vegetables should be just slightly crisp but still be fork tender, cooked to this point you will get the full sweet flavor and maximum digestion.
Mix vegetables you love with those that you are struggling with, if you love peas and corn add a bit of carrots and green beans.
In the end the most important lesson you should take away from this article is that developing a taste for vegetables is of the utmost importance, you do not eat what you do not like. If you have to add a bit of extra calories to make that happen you are not going to keel over from a heart attack. This is providing of course that your are putting a bit of butter on your veggies not adding a bit of veggies to your butter. In fact what you add to your diet, is probably more important than what you take away, if you think about what those veggies are replace that little bit of flavor you add is very small in the big scheme of things.