A greens-nibbling lady you are not. In fact, if anything, you’re more of a meat and potatoes kinda gal. But you know you should make friends with vegetables (hello, antioxidants and roughage!), only thing is you’re finding it as hard as Lindsay Lohan trying to make a comeback. But not only should you try, says Mairlyn Smith, author of Healthy Starts Here! 140 Recipes that Will Make You Feel Great (“You need your seven to 10 servings daily to live a long healthy life,” she says), it’s not as hard as you may think. Here, she shares her tips on how to learn to love vegetables.
Change your attitude towards vegetables
“If you think you’re going to hate it, you will,” says Smith. They’ve done research that shows if you go into a fearful situation you don’t like with a positive attitude, you’ll have a different outcome. She suggests keeping an open mind when you try a new vegetable and you might like it. “It’s a psychological thing,” she says.
Try cooking a vegetable in different ways
“Just because you ate something once and didn’t like it, such as raw broccoli, doesn’t mean you’re not going to like it stir fried, roasted or in chili sauce,” says Smith. “It changes the flavour note.” While she recognizes it won’t change it drastically (“It’s not going to taste like a strawberry!”) but it might change it enough that you like it. She uses beets as another example. “If you’ve only tried boiled beets, they can be watery, soggy and rubbery. But roasted they become sweet and they’re firmer.”
Try vegetables you’ve never had before
“There’s a world of things many of us have never had—step out of your comfort zone. You might not like carrots, but you might like parsnips, sweet potatoes or a daikon radish,” says the Toronto-based author. “People get stuck on what their mom and dad gave them—try something new!”
Focus on local, seasonal vegetables
With new vegetables coming into season, take advantage of the crop available. “If you eat salad in the summer, and try to have the same salad in the winter, it won’t taste the same,” says Smith. Instead, rotate your vegetables with the seasons and it’ll taste better, she says.
Pair vegetables with foods you do like
Mix vegetables with foods you do enjoy. If you have a soup with lots of cut vegetables, mix in a new vegetable (Smith says this is a great way to get kids to eat new vegetables). She also suggests mixing vegetables into rice dishes, stir fries, omelettes and quinoa.
Give the vegetable many chances before you settle on a verdict
“It takes kids about 30 times to like a new food. They’ve never done research with adults, but maybe it takes us that long, too,” says Smith.