You know you should be eating more vegetables, right?
Everybody says so. The government. The diet gurus. The fix-your-health people. The increase-your-lifespan people.
But you don’t really like all those veggies that they are talking about.
You find yourself counting french fries and ketchup as vegetables. The USDA says they are veggies, after all. But deep down inside you know those aren’t the veggies that all those other people are talking about.
You try a bigger salad. But it’s so-o-o boring! And the amount of salad dressing you add to make up for it can’t be good for you. All that fat and sugar….
Then you read how the whole broccoli family ruined somebody’s thyroid.
“AHA!” you think. “I knew there was a good reason to stop.”
You keep reading more articles and find out that somebody has found a good reason that you should not eat or drink almost anything. Even stuff that is supposed to be healthy. Including water.
That can’t be right. So the veggie pushers must be right.
Which means you are still looking for a way to add those veggies without having to face a giant mound of green things every day. And without putting a pound of cheese all over everything.
Here are some special ways to help you sneak in those veggies and actually enjoy the process.
Ignore the veggie addicts
Have you read what they recommend? I mean, rutabagas and parsnips— really?
Or those pushers of greens. The more bitter they are the more they promote them.
They recommend things you don’t like. They think you just need to get used to them. They are wrong. You will fail.
Make useful lists
First, you need to make some lists, so you can really identify the veggies you want to work with. Ones where you can stand the taste, especially when hidden in something else. But be sure they are also considered “healthy” ones. After all, that’s the point of this exercise. Being able to increase the healthy veggies in your diet.
You need 3 lists.
1. Healthy veggies that you actually like
(Even if you have to dip them in something.) At first, this might be pretty short. But as time goes on you might find there are some that aren’t so bad after all. This list will give you the no-brainers to include in your diet (maybe a little more often than you do now).
Can’t think of even one? How about carrots?
2. Recommended veggies
This is going to be the main list of veggies we are going to try to sneak into the diet. The more the better, because we want lots of options here. With lots of options, there are more chances you will find a way to include them in your meals.
You may have to go to several sites to see what is recommended, to make a nice, long list. Check out what the health gurus recommend. Look at the government’s old food lists and food pyramids.
Cross off the ones you absolutely hate. (Don’t be too fast to do this — you’re just looking for the ones that have an overpowering odor or really bad aftertaste. Leave the ones that you can choke down if you absolutely have to.)
3. Veggie substitutions
This is especially important if you find yourself crossing off too many veggies in the “recommended” list. There are reasons that so many sources recommend those really healthy veggies. The health gurus talk at length about various chemicals in food, what they do for your body, why you just can’t live without them. They will often tell you all the different food items that share the same advantages.
If they are already on you “I can stand that if I have to” list, then it doesn’t belong on this list. But if it’s something you hadn’t considered, especially a tasty fruit, put it in this list.
Sometimes there aren’t any good food substitutions, but the veggie has a specific nutrient or special kind of fiber that makes it special. Write that veggie down, along with whatever nutrients makes it special. You can often find those items available as supplements. (You know you can if the guru is selling bottles of them.) This gives you another way to actually get some healthy veggie-oriented stuff inside your body, which is:
Pop some pills
You have a list of some supplements that can do part of what veggies do. If your list is short, take a look again at veggies on your recommended veggie list. See if you can find others with specific components that might come in a pill form.
You are looking for names like sulforaphane or lycopene. You can take those as a pill, to get some of the advantages of those recommended foods that they come from. Which means you don’t have to eat as much of the veggies that have that supplement in them.
There is even a veggie pill, made out of freeze-dried veggie juice. (Not a complete substitute for the veggie — they don’t have the solid parts, which have benefits. But a good start.)
Find out how to drink them
If you can chug them down, you’re not going to notice the flavor so much. And slimy consistency problems? Gone.
The best way to make drinkable juices or smoothies for a veggie hater is one of those expensive, high end blenders, like VitaMix or BlendTec. Sorry, but the cheaper ones don’t make “smoothe” smoothies, and those little bits of sawdust-like pieces are a big turnoff.
Once you have the proper blender, start with a base that will give a bland, sweet taste. Like carrots and healthy berries.
Add veggies that are also bland. Sprouts can work here, as long as you stay away from the bitter ones. One person’s bland is another person’s bitter, so when you read the praises of, say, chard, test a little bit before buying an armful. Try to find some kind of green veggie that does not overwhelm the rest of your drink
A tablespoonful or two of frozen orange juice concentrate and a half teaspoonful of stevia helps things out, too
Like the consistency of smoothies? Add a cup of ice.
Prefer something more liquid? Leave out the ice.
Use rice milk or almond milk or other reasonably healthy liquid. Blend long enough to make sure everything is as smooth as possible.
Can’t stomach any greens at all? Are carrots, berries, sprouts, and orange or pineapple juice ok with you? Use those things to blend up something that is not a complete veggie substitute but still a step in the right direction.
Use the salt and pepper method
If you don’t want to drink any kind of vegetable drink, there are a number of ways to eat them that you may not have considered. You probably aren’t aware that there are powdered veggies, because you probably never looked for them before. They’re out there on the internet —just do a search for vegetable powders.
Try them sprinkled lightly on top of your food, along with your salt and pepper. You might even be able to gradually increase the amounts as you become used to the taste.
You can also find veggie combo powders already meant to be used this way. They are designed for people on a low-salt diet. You can search for them on the internet by looking for “salt substitutes.” You can even find them in your grocery store in the spice section.
Spice up your diet
Speaking of spices — do you like spicy stuff? Mexican food? Curries? Kung Pao chicken? If a flavor is spicy enough, it overwhelms some of the other flavors, including some veggie flavors you may not like. It also livens up the flavor of a veggie that is too bland for you.
These foods make it easier to sneak in veggies. Chop those veggies up fine. Start slow with just a little, and just one or two veggies. Gradually increase. You’ll probably be surprised at the quantity of veggies you can add to spicy foods of all kinds.
Go the liquid route
Soups and stews are often flavorful enough to hide some of that veggie taste. Ones that are thick or have lots of lumpy ingredients already can camouflage veggie lumps. If there are lots of other lumps in there, chances are you can get away with bigger lumps of veggies here too. And it saves time on the chopping.
Try adding them to chili, too. You get the benefit of both the lumps and the spiciness to hide the taste and consistency of the stuff you have been avoiding.
Pour them on things
You can use the same trick with certain sauces, using their flavor and the lumpiness to hide the veggies. If you have a favorite good, flavorful Italian sauce, here’s another place to add the veggies. Then pour that healthy sauce on spaghetti noodles. Or add to lasagna.
If your favorite pasta sauce is puttanesca, then you have the benefit of spiciness here too.
And don’t forget dips, to dip veggies in, and to add blended veggies to. You might find you like certain veggies best if you drown them in your favorite dip. If you’ve never tried veggies with dips, check out whatever the veggie pushers are recommending and you’ll find the veggies that will work the best this way.
Mexican salsas are another natural here. They are spicy and lumpy with a few veggie ingredients already. Chop up one or two other veggies and add them in. Then use the new, improved salsa as a dip for your chips.
Eat healthier without making yourself gag
Chances are you have tried some version of a few of these. But if the veggies were too identifiable, it probably didn’t work well for you.
Now you can try all these ways to hide the looks, the taste, the flavor of veggies that are really good for you. Without having to deal with the looks, the smells, the feel of the veggies you don’t like.
You can experiment with ways to eat them, drink them, sprinkle them, and hide them in a way that matches your own tastes, not the ones the veggie pushers recommend.
You can add them to your favorite foods without ruining the flavor or texture.
You can still eat french fries and ketchup. But you don’t have to lie about them any more.
Your list of truly healthy veggies in your diet will get longer.
You won’t have to ruin your favorite dishes with big chunks of veggies you don’t like.
You won’t feel guilty for not eating mounds of tasteless green things.
At the same time, you will feel better and better — a real win-win!