“EAT YOUR VEGGIES!”
Most of us know that vegetables are good for us and we should be eating them by the truck load. Yet we don’t. If anything, we go out of our way to avoid them. Vegetables are awesome for your body but don’t necessary taste the best (keep reading to learn how to make them taste amazing). The bitterness in vegetables is what turns most people off and unfortunately some people genetically will taste more bitterness than others. Nevertheless, we can’t ignore the superpowers of VEGETABLES:
Vegetables are bursting with nutrients that your body needs and loves, such as – antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients. A healthy body needs these nutrients daily, consuming vegetables helps you stay strong and resistant to illness.
Vegetables have a lot of volume, but not a lot of calories. They fill up your stomach without adding a lot of extra calories. This can help you stay/get lean by keeping you satisfied while in a calorie deficit (less energy in than you are expending).
Vegetables add fibre which keeps us feel full in between meals. Fibre also feeds our good gut bacteria, helps food move through our digestive tract, and mostly importantly fibre helps you do good poops.
Vegetables are full of water which helps you stay hydrated. The extra water also helps the fibre do its job.
Vegetables add variety which helps things stay interesting in the kitchen. Learning how to cook veggies in different ways can help you eat healthier more regular.
Love your veggies in 3 easy steps
No matter where you are starting from – “I never eat veggies” or “I want some new ideas”, there is a simple process that you can use to reduce the bitterness and make veggies great again!
Step 1. Challenge.
Pick a vegetable, if you’re feeling adventurous choose a vegetable you’ve never tried before. Now psych yourself up, you’re going to do this! Just give something new a try, go in with an incredibly open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised. You may hate it… you may love it… you may just think “meh”. Either way… you have now been brave, and at least tried it.
Step 2. Complement.
Think of a flavour/cuisine you really like e.g., Asian, Italian, Greek, middle eastern. Think of the herbs, spices and aromatics used to create that flavour. This will help you take on the challenge and hopefully enjoy the more.
Step 3. Cushion.
Finding a “cushion” is about blunting the bitterness of a vegetable and making it more palatable. Sweet and fatty flavours can interfere with our brain’s perception of bitterness. Excellent Cushions for bitterness include honey, maple syrup, oils, almonds, and butter. Don’t stress out if those sound high in calories. We just need balance, not a cup of oil or a pound of bacon.
Pick one challenge + Pick one complement + Pick one cushion = Eating more vegetables
What to do next
Aim for progress, not perfection. Do what works for you right now and at the same time, be open to change.
- Cooking methods
Most people hate vegetables because the way they are cooked or should I say over-cooked. Changing the way you cook a vegetable can drastically change the way you perceive them, e.g., raw brussel sprouts verses sautéed in butter and garlic. There are many ways to cook vegetables so you will have to experiment with what you like – raw, steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted, and braised.
- Forget about “rules”
Professionals often over-complicate things by suggesting vegetables must be “organic”, “from the garden” or “bathed in cosmic vibrations”. There’s no need to pay attention to these guys, just eat vegetables in a way that you like them. If preserving the “wholesomeness” of the vegetable means they taste like dirt, it doesn’t matter. You will not eat it!
- Eat the rainbow
Go and cruise the aisles of your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Look for the less-bitter options, like:
- cherry tomatoes
- butternut squash
- red pepper
- beetroot (which sweeten when roasted)
- orange or purple sweet potatoes
- Start where you are
If you’re eating 1 serving, shoot for 2. If you already eat a sandwich for lunch, just add a tomato, some lettuce, or a couple slices of cucumber to it. If you already make a morning smoothie then throw a block or two of frozen kale. If you’re already making pasta sauce, add some extra peppers, mushrooms, or other veggies you enjoy.
This is your chance to try some new things, what do you have to lose? Who cares if you try something and you hate it? At least you tried to get out of your comfort zone and learnt something new. More often than not you’ll discover something else you enjoy.
Make it a habit
Knowing the benefits of vegetables are not enough to help you eat them regularly. You have to get into the habit of purposefully seeking to ADD vegetables to your meals. Ideally, we should be eating 10 fist sized servings a day! Take a moment and have a think about how many fist sized servings of vegetables you eat each day.
It might be 0 and that’s ok, start from where you are. If you don’t eat any vegetables start with 1 per day. For the next two weeks try to eat one more serving of vegetables every day. If you only add one serving of vegetables each day for 14 days and you currently are eating zero, your essentially eating 14 x more vegetables than you are right now!