Make Vegetables Taste Good
You know vegetables are good for you, but you don’t enjoy them. So, you have come here. Relax! You can make your vegetables taste good without extensive culinary skills. Nor do you need more than a few minutes. The ingredients are readily available in most grocery stores. Further, it only requires a couple of condiments in most cases. Vegetables not only can taste good, but they can also be an enjoyable part of a healthy food plan.
To make vegetables taste good, buy them fresh! The longer they sit in a truck, on a shelf, or in a refrigerator, the more flavor they will lose. So, when possible, buy locally from a farmer’s market or from a CSA (community-shared agriculture) organization. You can identify markets in your area by putting in your zip code at LocalHarvest.org
Another tip is to find out what day your grocery store receives produce shipments and shop on that day. Always look for bright colors and avoid yellowed, browned or wilted produce. Keep your eye out for products that are in season in your climate and have been grown in your state. For example, in Idaho, strawberries peak in June. If I’m buying strawberries in December, certainly they have been shipped from Mexico, spending more than a week in transport.
Less is more when it comes to making cooked vegetables taste good. Although frozen vegetables may cost less and do offer prompt harvest-to-freezer freshness, they often are soggy and mushy when cooked. So, less handling between the farm and you will yield more satisfaction in taste.
Water is an important factor. Less water generally results in a tastier product. So, steam instead of boil; roast or sauté instead of microwaving. Low and slow may be fine for pot roasts, but quick and hot is better for fresh produce. If you have time to grill, that is a delicious option. For no-fuss indoor grilling, check out Ninja Grills.
Less time under heat preserves the flavor, too. Don’t cook them until they can be mashed – unless they are potatoes. Vegetables are best when they can be poked with a fork but retain a slight crunch. I like to roast vegetables on a sheet pan in a 425° oven with a drizzle of cooking fat just until tender-crisp. Also, stir-frying them in a skillet preheated to medium-high with some cooking oil works well. If you do add them to soups, chop them fine so that you don’t get big, soggy pieces. Add lots of seasoning to your soup to enhance the end result.
Make Vegetables Taste Good
Now, dress them up! Nobody expects you to eat them plain. Like a woman, they present themselves best when they are made up. Here are some simple ideas you can stir together while your vegetables are on the heat.
- Teriyaki flavor: Combine equal parts soy sauce and pineapple juice concentrate. Drizzle over vegetables and garnish with grated ginger root.
- Tai: Whisk a spoonful of curry paste into a small bowl of coconut milk. For depth, add a dash of fish sauce and a shake of chili flakes. Dunk your vegetables.
- Mexican: Mix 2 parts honey with 1 part lime juice. Spice with chipotle powder and chopped cilantro.
- French: Sprinkle herbs de Provence into cream. Pour over finished vegetables.
- Italian: Dilute pesto sauce with some chicken broth and toss with vegetables.
- Grill mix: Shake together in a jar 4 tsp. salt; 2 tsp. each of paprika, sugar, parsley flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder; and 1 tsp. each of celery seed, chili powder, turmeric, oregano, and basil. Sprinkle over any vegetable or add to soups. For a larger batch, use a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon.
- Mediterranean: Blend 1/3 cup each olive oil & tahini; 1 tablespoon each soy sauce & honey; 3 tablespoons lemon juice; and 1/2 tsp. each garlic powder and salt. Spoon over vegetables.
- For cruciferous & Sulphur-containing vegetables (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, & artichokes): Stir together 1 part Dijon mustard and 1 part pure maple syrup. Dribble onto vegetables.
- For sauteed greens (spinach, chard, kale, arugula): splash with balsamic vinegar, then drizzle on a little honey.
- For raw salads: Whisk 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Add herbs if desired (garlic, chives, parsley, basil, dill, cilantro, etc.)
Expand Your Repertoire
If you don’t typically eat any vegetables besides corn, peas, and beans, here are some fun ways to add more vegetables to your diet.
- At the grocery store, try to buy 1 vegetable in each color of the rainbow for the week.
- Choose a vegetable that you have never eaten before, and Google recipes for it. Pro tip: for nearly any vegetable (except lettuce and avocado), it can likely be washed, chopped, tossed with olive oil + salt, and baked at 350ºF until you can pierce it with a fork.
- Consider making a vegetable soup, stir fry, or salad that has at least 6 types of vegetables in it to get great variety in one sitting. Good vegetables for all of these dishes include onions (red and white), garlic, carrots, celery, bell peppers, cabbage (red and green), string beans, zucchini, tomatoes, cauliflower, sturdy leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach, arugula, chard), and cooked winter squash.
- Consider having a dip alongside chopped vegetables for a snack – guacamole, hummus, and black bean dip are some favorites.
- Toss some chopped herbs onto your dishes for added flavor. These are especially abundant in the summer months. Consider fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, dill, oregano, and chives. Great herbs to throw into a soup or roasting meat include sage, thyme, bay leaves (remove after cooking), and rosemary. Garlic and ginger are other excellent, easy to find additions, both raw and cooked.