It’s taken me years of practice to get “good” at eating vegetables. When I was a kid I would chop my veggies into small pieces and swallow them whole, like a pill. I’d shove them as far back in my mouth as possible, so the dreaded bitter bite wouldn’t touch my taste-buds, before I gulped it down with my milk.
When I went to college I decided, as an aspiring adult, I needed to learn to enjoy vegetables, after all, grown-ups like their veggies. So I set out on a mission to learn to eat them– sans milk. Every night I filed through the salad bar line, filed my plate with any veggie I didn’t already fancy, and then force-fed myself forks of broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, green peppers, etc. And it worked. With the exception of broccoli I learned to
savor tolerate, a wide, colorful variety.
(On a side note: my little experiment took my hatred of broccoli to a whole new level. After a few weeks of forcing it down my gullet I started breaking out in hives whenever I ate it– a side effect that remains with me today!)
Now I’m a mother in my mid-30s, and I eat veggies with the responsible regularity of a compelled role model. But try as I might, I still can’t get excited about a bowl of sauted kale. So last month when we challenged ourselves to increase our plant intake, I took it as an opportunity to redo my college undertaking. I embarked on the challenge with much nostalgia.
Armed with better supplies and more choices than the dorm dining hall ever had, I discovered I could not only increase my intake, I could incorporate veggies into every morsel I put in my mouth. For the whole month of January, I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t accompanied by a vegetable. I was surprised to discover I enjoyed it (plus, seriously, I haven’t had a blemish since I started this challenge. My skin look and feels amazing!). So much so, that veggies have become a new habit, and show up on my plate with a new-found frequency– every time I use one.
Several people have asked me how I manage to get so many veggies into my diet and then keep them there, and while I doubt I have any earth shattering or “new” tips to offer on the subject. There are 5 things I have found very helpful in getting and keeping plant life in my regimen.
- Cut up on counter: I’m a SAHM with 2 kids who eat ALL DAY LONG. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I used to keep a bowl of cut veggies in the fridge, but I found I was more apt to reach for them if they were out. So now, in the morning, I cut up a cucumber, red pepper, celery and leave the slices out– I don’t even bother to dirty a bowl; I just leave them on the cutting board. Every time I pass, I find myself popping a veggie. The two biggest bonuses of this trick? I never feel like snacking and my kids snag as many slices as I do! Win Win!
- Smoothies with greens: I’ve written about this before, but my kids and I are obsessed with what we call “ice cream” smoothies! I pack them with greens– kale, lettuce, spinach, chard– but the berries and banana drown out most of the veggie flavor, so they’re perfect for veggie-phopes. These make a great breakfast or lunch!
- Eggs: Eggs are the perfect vehicle for vegetables, from scrambles to omelets to casseroles, the two are really made for each other! Plus they are quick and easy to make. Most weeks I make a crustless quiche on Monday, and I’m able to eat off it all week long. Quiche is great because it is quick to toss together, keeps well, is good hot or cold, and can be eaten at any meal! My favorite combos are asparagus/prosciutto/caramelized onion and sweet potato/spinach/caramelized onion/bacon.
- Caramelized onions: Firstly they are already a vegetable. Secondly they’re delicious. Thirdly they make every other vegetable taste better and be more appealing. I often make a batch at the beginning of the week, then I can toss them on salads, with green beans or asparagus, in a veggie soup, in a quiche. Mmmmmm. Every veggie is more delicious when it’s tossed with caramelized onions!
- Vega Protein Powder: First, let me tell you I’m NOT being paid to talk about this product. Vega is a plant-based protein powder and one scoop has SIX servings of veggies. I just really love it. I often have it for breakfast! (Side tip: I like to blend it with double the suggested liquid; it makes it smoother).
I don’t know if these’ll work for you, but these little tricks have really helped me get and keep tons of veggies in my diet! What tricks do you use??? Leave your tips in the comments section below!