Human beings obviously need vegetables in their diet—this is an undisputed fact that any doctor, dietician or nutritionist can tell you. However, many people do not like the taste or texture of vegetables and simply do not know how to prepare them in a way that will produce the best flavor.
Children in particular often turn their noses up at delectable vegetables. It can be impossible to get all the vitamins and nutrients into your children (and spouse!) without resorting to hiding the vegetables within the prepared dish. Often people don’t eat enough veggies because it takes too long to fix them when you want a snack, and grabbing a cookie or bag of chips is faster. There are a few simple effective strategies to add vegetables to your diet without struggle.
When you go shopping, buy an assortment of vegetables and prepare them IMMEDIATELY when you get home. Cut up the carrots, cucumber, or celery into sticks; separate the broccoli or cauliflower into florets and put them all into containers in the bottom of your fridge. You will be surprised at how many times you and your family will grab a veggie snack because you can do so with no effort.
Pack your lunches with a couple of baggies of peppers, radishes or sweet snap peas instead of fatty snacks. This is a great way to get your vitamins and nutrients. Remember to pack as many colors as possible—each different colored vegetable has different benefits, such as beta carotene in carrots (orange).
Instead of traditional dinners such as lasagne or roast beef, try having a huge fresh salad with a grilled chicken breast or piece of steamed salmon. Cut up many different vegetables, or fruit, on a platter and simply eat family style. Try new vegetables such as jicama and make prettily composed salads for your children with cute faces topped by shredded carrot or alfalfa sprout hair. Kids love to make the salad faces with red pepper smiles and cauliflower ears.
Add vegetables in a sneaky way if your family really won’t eat them. There are great low-fat or low-sugar recipes for carrot, beet or zucchini breads and muffins. This still counts as a vegetable serving! Put roasted red pepper or shredded carrot in pizza sauces and make tasty pita pizzas chocked full of healthy vegetables. Pasta sauces and casseroles are wonderful places to hide vegetables like mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, beans and other delicious variations. If you cut or puree the vegetables into small enough pieces, there is NO way that your child, or adults, will notice the vegetables that you’ve added for their health.
Vegetable purees can be added anywhere without changing the texture or taste of the finished dish too much. Look at the type of vegetable that you have pureed (sweetness, color, and underlying flavor) and incorporate it into a similar product. For example, pureed carrot or squash can be added to “Mac and Cheese” with no real change in taste or color. Pancake or waffle batters and cookie batter are fabulous places to throw in sweet potato.
Obviously you should also try to create good eating habits in your family which includes an appreciation for unadorned vegetables. The best way to serve any vegetable is as close to its natural state as possible. Vegetables are a feast for the taste buds (and the eyes) served raw or lightly steamed with a bit of fresh chopped herbs or clarified butter.