“Eat your veggies!” How many parents say this on a regular basis? Getting your kids to learn to like vegetables is a battle most parents face at some point. But sometimes, adults are equally guilty of not eating enough vegetables or declaring that they taste bad.
Vegetables often get a bad rap. They can be delicious and can add flavor and nutrition when paired with lean protein and healthy grains to make a wonderful meal. You just need to know the secret to prepare them properly. Finding new ways to prepare vegetables doesn’t even need to be an arduous task—it can be as simple as making a few small tweaks to what you’re already doing to help make your vegetables more appealing and flavorful.
Buy in season.
The first thing to do to change the way you and your family think about vegetables is to buy only what is currently in season. Not only will in-season veggies taste better and be more nutritious but they are also usually less expensive, so you’ll save money on your total food costs in the long run.
To figure out what’s in season, just do a quick Google search or use the online Seasonal Food Guide to see what’s in season in your area. For example, spring is a good time to purchase carrots and artichokes, while summer is perfect for sweet corn, okra, and peppers.
Rethink preparation techniques.
For busy families, boiling or steaming vegetables is usually the easiest option, but these methods can leave veggies mushy and tasteless, which means kids definitely won’t eat them. There are better options for cooking veggies including grilling, roasting, air frying, or sautéing.
For crispy, brown, and more flavorful veggies, roasting is an easy method— just toss them on a sheet pan, add some seasonings, and pop them in the oven for a few minutes. Or use an air fryer for a healthier version of fried, crispy vegetables. You can also throw almost any veggie on the grill for a smokey but still juicy flavor, or sauté them if you don’t want them to be crisp.
Add spices and seasonings.
Add flavor with fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, or dill to raw or cooked veggies. Or add seasonings like parsley, rosemary, sage, oregano, or thyme when cooking. You can spice things up with crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper, or get creative with seasoning blends like Italian or Cajun.
Serve with dip.
Do you prefer raw veggies or just want a healthy snack? Serve dips with raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli, celery, or cucumbers. A side of ranch dressing is always a good stand-by option, but raw veggies also taste great paired with guacamole, hummus, or tahini—or make your own creamy, vegetable dips.
You can hollow out vegetables like peppers, mushrooms, eggplants, squash, zucchinis, or potatoes and stuff them with cheese, bacon bits, ham, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, or garlic; the list is endless!
There’s a reason kids are more likely to eat broccoli smothered in cheese, but turn their noses up at steamed broccoli. Cheese really does make everything better! You can top just about any vegetable with cheese, let it get melty and gooey, and you’ll forget you’re eating vegetables at all.
Mix it up.
Another good way to get more vegetables in your diet is with a salad. Mix fruit with the vegetables in your salad for more flavor and more nutrients. For example, start with a base of spinach, and add sliced strawberries along with carrots, cucumbers, or onions, and top it off with walnuts or other nuts for some crunch.
If all else fails, you can always sneak in vegetables in other ways. Blend spinach or kale into a fruit smoothie, or finely chop up carrots or zucchini and add to spaghetti sauce.