5 Tricks That Will Make Even The Pickiest Eaters Crave Vegetables

Photo by Ivan Solis

Registered dietitian and Instagram sensation Sammi Haber Brondo has been on a rocket ship since she won mbg’s first ever Next Great Nutritionist competition—and now, she’s just released her first cookbook, The Essential Vegetable Cookbook: Simple and Satisfying Ways to Eat More Veggies. The book serves as an A-to-Z guide for vegetable preparation, with tips and tricks sprinkled throughout. In this excerpt, Brondo shares how to make even the pickiest eaters crave vegetables.

Don't love vegetables but know they're an important part of your diet? Or do your kids refuse to eat anything that resembles a veggie? I feel you. I've come across this situation with clients many times, and I have some tips to help even the most vegetable-averse person eat more veggies:

1. Mix vegetables in with other meals.

If nothing sounds less appetizing to you than a bowl of steamed broccoli, then definitely don't start with a bowl of steamed broccoli! Instead, mix about ¼ cup of cooked broccoli into a bowl of whole-wheat pasta. Add a flavorful sauce, like a tomato sauce, and some grated salty cheese, like Parmesan, so that the broccoli simply becomes a small part of a delicious meal.

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2. Play with different flavors.

Herbs, spices, and sauces are an integral part of both cooking and eating vegetables and can make a world of difference when it comes to the taste of a veggie dish. If you think you don't like Brussels sprouts, try drizzling balsamic vinegar over them, or try roasting them with olive oil and a little salt, then sprinkling them with basil, chives, or parsley...or try dipping them in a sauce like Thai Peanut Butter Dressing (see below) to add a rich burst of flavor.

3. Try different cooking methods.

Maybe you were made to eat mushy tomatoes as a kid and now can't stand the thought of them. Or maybe raw kale is just not your thing (it's not really mine either, to tell you the truth). Different cooking methods bring out different flavors in veggies: Sautéing greens like bok choy and collard greens makes them soft and tender while roasting vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts gives them a delicious, crispy texture that you won't get from steaming or boiling, and it brings out their natural sweetness.

4. Experiment with sweet flavors.

Although they're typically known as savory accompaniments, a lot of vegetables actually pair really well with sweet flavors. Appease your sweet tooth and up your veggie intake by adding cinnamon or maple syrup to your dishes (both pair brilliantly with carrots).

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5. Get creative.

Vegetables can often be ingenious stand-ins for other ingredients like meat or noodles in classic dishes like pizza, pasta, and burgers. Using them in this way may allow you to eat more veggies while barely even realizing they're there. Try making a cauliflower pizza crust, zucchini lasagna, or infusing veggie burgers with umami-rich mushrooms.

Thai Peanut Butter Dressing

Photo: Tatjana Zlatkovic

Sweet and salty, this salad dressing works perfectly on any Asian-inspired salads or just for dipping crudités. Store this dressing in a jar in the refrigerator—it will last for up to two weeks.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Method

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until well-combined. (For a thinner dressing, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.)

Based on excerpts from The Essential Vegetable Cookbook: Simple and Satisfying Ways to Eat More Veggies by Sammi Haber Brondo, with the permission of Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2018.

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