About once a week, someone asks me how they can eat more veggies. I don’t know why they think I am a veggie-eating pro, but it might have something to do with my Instagram, which betrays my 3x/day vegetable habit. Yeah, I eat veggies for breakfast. It’s not as weird as it sounds; trust me.
Now, I am not a dietitian or anything, but I have cooked a lot of vegetables and I really love them. Vegetables can be delicious, crisp, refreshing and flavorful – or they can be soggy chalky tasteless masses. What kind of veggies do you prefer?
Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way that I recently shared with a friend who is a card-carrying veggie-hater, but I think she’s just never had a good veggie and I’m determined to change that. She suggested I share my tips here. I hope these are helpful to you!1. Stick to in-season produce, and bonus if it’s locally grown. That holds even in winter, when squash, heavier leafy greens (like kale and chard), the cabbage family (green, red, brussels sprouts, etc), and root veggies (beets, rutabaga and carrots) are plentiful and flavorful. Veggie Inspiration:
- In the summer, zucchini is everywhere and dirt cheap. Use it in this (chocolate!) bread, or these wonderful pancakes.
- In the fall, try baked and roasted squash
- In the winter, put kale in everything from burgers to chimichurri sauce. And as though you needed another excuse to eat a fish taco, cabbage slaw is always a perfect topping.
- In the spring, go for carrots. They’re sweet and flavorful and, from the number of carrot recipes on this blog, you can see that there is no limit to their versatility.
2. Once you’ve gotten your hands on fresh, probably seasonal, vegetables, make sure you cook them in a way that adds and enhances flavor. Veggie Inspiration
- My favorite way to cook veggies is to basically reverse-braise. So instead of sautéing and then adding liquid like you would with a braise, put the veggies in a pan with about 1/4″ of water, cover and steam for a couple minutes just until slightly softened then remove the lid, pour the water off, add a generous pour of olive oil and sauté with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. This is by far my favorite way to cook leafy greens and summer veggies like green beans, bell peppers, summer squash, etc, but it also works with winter/root veggies (you just may have to steam some of them, like root veggies, a little longer than you would green beans).
3. Avoid boiling veggies at all costs. It’s easy to overcook them and, when you do, it saps them of texture, color and flavor – three key elements of enjoying your food – plus, it leeches nutrients from them if you boil them too long. I prefer steaming instead, which retains more flavor and nutrients. Whether boiling or steaming, as soon as they’re done cooking, plunge them immediately into an ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve the color. Remember: you experience food first with your eyes, so there is something to be said for attractive looking food! Veggie Inspiration:
- If you *must* boil your veggies, puree them and add them to something else like a smoothie or a brownie.
4. Generally speaking, I suggest avoiding the canned or frozen stuff. Canned vegetables tend to be soggy and full of salt, while defrosted frozen veggies lose nearly all of their texture and flavor and become basically bland mush. There’s nothing good about frozen veggies, and I only use them in something I am cooking anyway like soup. (There is one exception – green peas – which for some reason tend to keep their tenderness when you defrost them). Veggie Inspiration:
- Canned tomatoes work well in this soup
- You can sub frozen carrots for roasted fresh ones in this soup
- Defrosted frozen spinach would be an amazing addition to this chili
- Here is the method I use to roast most hearty or starchy winter veggies.
6. Try new veggies and applications for them. Pinterest is a fantastic resource, because you can scroll through and find something that catches your eye. You’re more likely to enjoy eating geggies if you are eating a dish you’re excited about, that happens to contain vegetables, rather than “eating your vegetables”. Start on this board, this one or this one for inspiration. Veggie Inspiration:
- Try a slice of veggie-packed quiche
7. As a Hail Mary, add an indulgent flavor like bacon or cheese. Veggie Inspiration:
- Make a cheese sauce (if dairy agrees with you) to pour over your veggies. This is my mom’s trick and it used to be my favorite way to eat cauliflower. Here’s how you make it: make a roux (butter + tapioca, arrowroot, or all-purpose flour), and then add some milk (cow’s is best), then a small handful of cheese, then another small amount of milk, then more cheese, etc, until you have enough sauce. Stir continuously until it’s smooth and not lumpy, season with black pepper and garlic powder and thin with more milk to get the consistency you want. Dip veggies in or pour it over them. I think it works especially well with cauliflower, but broccoli (or, really anything) tastes good with it.