We don’t all grow up with a complete willingness to eat our veggies like good little boys and girls. Perhaps you even know some adults whose palates seem to have never matured. You know the type, picky eaters, turning their nose up at anything outside of boring, tasteless fare or worse yet, those limited to high sodium, high fat, heavily processed, fast food. Maybe you’re even one of them… If so, do you ever wonder what you might be missing out on, aside from all of the health benefits, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, of not eating your veggies?
As reported by a study performed at Imperial College London, we should aim for 10 servings of veggies per day. That may seem high, but their research suggested that if 5 servings yields positive results, then 10 is even better. Lowering your risk of things like, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and even cancer and premature death risk to name just a few. Veggies are beginning to sound a bit tastier now, aren’t they? But that may be tough to swallow, if it’s your least favorite food group.
And with the notion of how much food you can consume when it’s all real food versus packaged, processed junk, wouldn’t you rather enjoy more bang for your caloric buck? I love to eat and I especially love to create new ways to enjoy flavors that work well together. For me, vegetables are a tremendous part of that strategy due to their incredible health benefits, but also the quality and quantity of what you gain when you implement more of them. Whether I’m baking up a tray of kale or sweet potato chips to dip into some yummy homemade guacamole, or I’m creating a giant, colorful salad with lots of tastes and textures, veggies are at the very foundation of that mindset.
Though I haven’t always been the best eater myself, as an adult, I’m proud to have overcome my fear of Brussels sprouts and mushrooms. The assumption that I would not like them only led me to miss out on things I now love and frequently utilize as part of my healthy lifestyle. I’m sad for all those years lost in retrospect! I eat a high protein, high healthy fat and very vegetable heavy diet for the past 5 years as part of an anti-inflammatory diet, (aka Paleo) but believe it or not, I have had a strong aversion to certain types of veggies, simply because of the stigma that they were just plain gross. You know, the very thing I get on my own children about now, but we don’t need to tell them that! Brussels sprouts, for example, seem to get the very worst rap of all. The thought or smell of the tiny little cabbage heads was once enough to make me gag. Then one magical day, my father-in-law, who is quite an amazing chef, plated me a side of those lil’ stinkers. I glared at them before realizing I’d have to taste them as I was an actual adult and didn’t want to offend him. These sprouts happened to be roasted and had an amazing caramelized exterior from the release of their natural sugars. As I took my first bite, the only thing I could think of was, “Wow, I have been missing out on life by not trying these sooner!” They have quickly become a staple in our home and even my greatest critics, my children, eat them without making crazy faces.
So I say, if you don’t like something or at least don’t think you like something, try a different type of preparation or seasoning and give it another shot. For me, the smell of boiled Brussels is the worst along with their limp, lifeless appearance. So light those suckers up in a 400-degree oven and roast them for a change of pace. The secret is all in the preparation.
How to sneak veggies in without the pain:
- Add pureed greens to sauces, soups and smoothies (a Vitamix is great for this!)
- Try using veggie noodles or zucchini noodles as an alternative to regular pasta (a mandolin or a spiralizer is key!)
- Bake into omelets, frittatas, muffins and casseroles where they aren’t the star of the show
- Try veggie chips or baked kale chips instead of regular high fat, high calorie alternatives
- Bake into burgers, meatballs or meatloaf
- Roast because they’re more appealing when they are caramelized
- Hide things like spinach or cauliflower in meals because they are nearly tasteless and then season to taste
- Juice your veggies and add apple or pineapple to cut the taste and add some sweetness
Try this recipe for high protein, easy to grab-and-go treats, that reheat and travel well. Add any assortment of veggies you like and the possibilities are endless!
Mini Frittata recipe
- 1 dozen eggs (use egg whites or half whites if you prefer)
- 1-2 C pre-cooked ground turkey, lean ground beef or bison
- spinach or kale
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Whisk eggs, season with salt and pepper and pour into a greased muffin tins half or 3/4 to the top. Add your veggies and pre-cooked protein of choice and give a little stir to incorporate the ingredients into the egg mixture. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool and package for breakfast, lunch or freeze for an easy to grab, healthy snack option.
Yields 12 mini frittatas