Most people don’t really have Lachanophobia – the fear of vegetables. Many folks just have an aversion to eating veggies. Since vegetables are such a major source of nutrition, the MyPlate suggests we make half our plate fruits and veggies every day for optimum health. So not wanting to eat our veggies can pose a bit of a problem.
How do we overcome our aversion to (or fear of) vegetables?
Make It Irresistible. Start with the first rule of food. Taste matters. It has to taste good. Really good. Try different spice blends. Good old salt and pepper may not be enough. Lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, pepper flakes, garlic, or a little bit of butter can make a huge difference. If the bitter taste in many vegetables bothers you, try adding a little honey, pineapple, maple syrup, raisins, or sweet and sour sauce. Try “younger” veggies, like baby spinach, which tend to taste less bitter.
Stop Saying You Hate All Vegetables. You just haven’t found a vegetable you like yet. Start with little baby bites. Take small bites of many different veggies. Try a new veggie as a side dish or ask for a taste of a veggie off your friend’s plate when you go out to eat. Be sure to try new veggies with an open mind. Instead of “this is going to be awful”, think “this could change everything for the better.”
Hide the Vegetables. Hiding vegetables in other foods allows you to become accustomed to the taste. Add vegetables to dishes you already like. Slip chopped veggies into spaghetti sauce, tuna salad, and soup or stew. Shred carrots, peppers, or zucchini into meatloaf, omelets, or casseroles. Add spinach to fruit smoothies. Also try eating a small bite of vegetable with something you already know you like: a slice of zucchini with steak or asparagus with salmon.
Experiment. Once you learn that vegetables can taste totally different depending on how they’re prepared, you won’t be so afraid of them. Roasted vegetables get a little sweeter since they caramelize in the oven. Cut up a variety of vegetables (like squash, broccoli, onions, cauliflower, and peppers). Drizzle with olive oil, add a little salt and pepper or other spices, and put them in a foil-lined pan in a 400˚F oven for about 30 minutes. Do you need to stick with old favorites like corn and potatoes? Try adding your favorite salsa to the corn or trying a combination of white, orange/sweet, purple, and red potatoes for a little something different. And don’t forget about the grill. Grilled veggies take on a smoky wonderfulness that makes everything better.
The next time you’re at the store, buy a new vegetable and learn how to prepare it. Whether hidden in your favorite meal or made into a kabob on the grill, can you find a way to sneak in more vegetables? Challenge yourself to find a new vegetable that you actually like. Check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables-tips for more ideas.
Vegetables in the New Year – Fear Not!