Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How To Get Past Veggie Hate

Ah, veggie hate. It's alive and well in practically every corner of the world.

First, I blame parents. I blame the parents that cook vegetables into a mushy pile of nastiness and force children to eat it before leaving the table because 'veggies are good for you.. eat them'

Not cool.

Secondly, It's a scientific fact that younger people have more taste buds so it stands to reason that they are bigger tasters in general so strong flavors are sometimes hard to deal with. This is one reason why most kids like the milder flavored veggies like corn, potatoes and peas and won't appreciate the stronger flavors until they are older.

If you still have veggie hatred in your soul, it's time to get past it. why? Veggies are good for you .. eat them!

Only this time, you'll eat them because you like them, they make you feel fantastic, they taste good and no one is forcing you.

Reasons for Veggie Hate

Childhood Trauma - I never recall anyone ever forcing me to eat anything but I have friends that lived this horror show and I can absolutely empathize with them but if this is your past, it's time to grow up and exorcise your veggie demons.

Attack of The Mush - if you grew up with parents that thought all veggies had one texture - MUSH - then I really do feel for you. It seems in the day and age of canned and frozen foods, it was forgotten that vegetables are not meant to be cooked into a blob. Veggies have texture! Who knew?! The only time you want mushy is in a baked sweet potato or mashed potatoes. Those you want nice and soft.

Afraid of Trying New Things - if you grew up seeing corn and peas on your plate night after night, you probably weren't really excited to eat something that looked like a mini tree or some oddly shaped bean. we tend to like what we know and anything new or different can send us into a tailspin... it's even worse as a kid.

Conditioning - if you touch a hot a stove, you know not to touch it the next time. The same can be said for less than stellar introductions to new veggies. If someone made you eat a poor pitiful brussels sprout that was cooked into mush then I can understand you being hesitant to ever try one again... but it's all in the preparation. I also know people that hate veggies so they deny their children veggies (or only give them the ones they like, never trying new ones).. which is probably one of the worst things ever. I can help you get past your conditioning.

I will also be talking about a few fruits, like tomatoes. As well as mushrooms and legumes (beans) in this post as most people consider those 'veggies'.

Exorcising The Veggie Demons

You know this will involve you eating veggies, right?  Stay with me. You can do this. I promise.

First, I want you to grab a piece of paper and make these four columns on it: Love, Meh, Hate, Never Tried

Here is how I define these columns:

Love - you buy this veggie and you make it and you love it. When you go to a restaurant, you'll order this veggie or it will make it onto your plate at a buffet or salad bar. You probably have a garden and grow these veggies.

Meh - you don't buy this to make at home but you wouldn't pick it out if it ended up on your plate at a friends house or in a restaurant. You don't love it, but you don't avoid it.

Hate - you would never buy this to make at home and when eating out you will specifically ask that it not be placed into your food. If you were to get a dish with this in it, you probably wouldn't be able to eat it or even pick it out. For example, I have severe hatred for green peppers. If I pick them out, it is still all I can taste. It ruins a dish for me.

Never Tried It - obviously, you've never tried it or you last tried it as a child. If you recall eating this as a kid, and hating it but haven't tried this as an adult.. you should place it in this column.

This list is not every single veggie on the planet.. but it has the most common ones available in a grocery store or specialty produce store, either fresh, frozen, dried or canned.

Now, plug these veggies into your chart... you may need to google them to see if you've had them before. Be specific. Some people love raw tomatoes but not cooked ones, I know people that eat onion rings but won't eat onions in anything else. I'll eat red peppers but I despise green peppers. List those in two columns. 

Let's be general in placing things in columns... if the only way you can eat a sweet potato is if it's loaded with sugar and cinnamon or the only way you'll eat an onion is if it's dipped in batter and deep fried, call that a 'love' for now but we'll need to talk about that later on. (wink)

Greens/Veggies and a few fruits:

bok choy
broccoli rabe
brussels sprouts
collard greens
mustard greens
dandelion greens
iceberg lettuce
red pepper
green pepper
yellow pepper/orange pepper
green onion
yellow onion
red onion
russet potatoes
sweet potatoes/yams
red potatoes
gold potatoes
green beans
swiss chard
baby corn
white mushrooms
cremini mushrooms
shiitake mushrooms
portobella mushrooms
butternut squash
kabocha squash
spaghetti squash
acorn squash
bamboo shoot
split peas
water chestnut

Legumes (beans):

red lentils
green/brown lentils
black eyed
white beans (northern)
kidney/red beans

edamame (soy beans)
soy curls

Ok.... now that you have your columns, let's look at them.

The love column - obviously, you already love these but lets examine why you love them. Take a look at the flavor and the texture of the ones in your love column. Do you see any patterns? (are they all fried?, are they sweet? are they soft or hard in texture?) Make a mental note.

The meh column - this column has some potential. The potential for some of these foods to move into the love column. I suspect that maybe if you had them prepared a new or different way, you could graduate these into your love column.

The hate column - there may be things on here that have potential. I'm sure you have things that you wouldn't eat even if you had a gun to you head but there may be hidden gems that have been unfairly judged and placed in this festering pile of hatred. I suspect anything you had as a child is here in this vast wasteland. Also, pay attention to what the hate items have in common .. soft or hard? soft flavors or strong? certain groups? (for me, I don't like any squash except zucchini)

The never tried column - well, just look at all the fun in your future! What culinary adventures await you?

Please take a trip to the store and pick up a few things on your meh and hate lists. Try them in a completely new way. You can buy a small amount to try. Give the veggies a second chance. You may discover a new love. 

If you have kids.. encourage them to try new veggies by letting them choose one and then you can both find a recipe to try. Make it a weekly game.

The Right Technique

If you think cooking veggies involves a sauce pan and water, we need to talk. I'm certainly not saying that every vegetable you buy and prepare has to be fresh. I can appreciate canned, frozen and dried goods but you need to know the good from the bad and the ugly. These are just my opinions, of course but it's a good place to start. Fresh is usually best if you can get it.

The good - canned beans, canned tomatoes (for stew, soup, sauces and chili), canned spinach, frozen corn, frozen broccoli, frozen mixed veggies like corn/pea/carrot for soups, frozen potatoes, dried lentils and beans, jarred artichokes, canned and jarred olives, frozen spinach for recipes

The bad - anything canned that isn't in the 'good' section. Seriously... canned veggies = mush.

The ugly - frozen brussels sprouts, canned mushrooms, canned beets, frozen squash, jarred asparagus (really?)

If a veggie is on your meh or hate list, it could be just a matter of trying it prepared in a different way. I can't tell you the number of people I've converted into brussels sprout lovers with this recipe for Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts.

You can certainly scour the internet for recipes for individual veggies but I first recommend trying the all-purpose and easy roasting technique.. many veggies are amazing when roasted.

My faves are carrots, brussels sprouts, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, onion and asparagus. Many root veggies work great roasted so give them a try with turnips, rutabagas and the like.

Chop your veggies and put them in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and whatever else you like (I like to use an Italian seasoning and nutritional yeast) and drizzle olive oil over them (not a ton. just enough to coat them very lightly). Toss to coat and then pour them on a baking pan and bake at 400 degrees until they are done to your liking. Remember, veggies have texture and bite to them. They should be fork tender but you should have to chew them!

Another great technique is steaming. Steamer baskets are cheap and you can usually find them in any grocery store. If you have a rice cooker, you can steam veggies as you're making the rice as well. some pan sets come with a steaming insert. You may have one and not even know it. They also make microwave steamers and even fancy electric steamers.

Click here for a nice tutorial of the different ways to steam.

I also like to pan fry/saute some veggies. The Brussels sprout recipe above is a pan fry recipe. I prefer my mushrooms pan fried in a little Earth Balance and sprinkled with garlic salt. For a side dish, I like mushrooms slightly browned but not cooked until they lose their moisture. Stir frying veggies is quick and really simple... just heat up a little olive oil or Earth Balance in a pan and saute them. Serve them over brown rice or toss with whole grain pasta and a little marinara. 

Just remember that there are a variety of ways to prepare all veggies. You may like some raw, some cooked, some partially cooked, some baked into a dish or some in a smoothie. I know people that swear to me that they hate kale until they try kale chips. You may only like beans baked into brownies or tofu when it's made into a chocolate pie. You won't know until you TRY a variety of things. If you love to use the 'it's a texture thing' excuse.. get over it and change the texture.

Turning Good Veggies into A Nightmare

Remember that sweet potato you could only eat if it was slathered in sugar, cinnamon and butter? Well... it's time you stopped doing that on a regular basis. If I get a baked sweet potato at a restaurant I usually use the cinnamon and sugar because it's already mixed together and I may even bring some Earth Balance to totally splurge but I probably have one sweet potato a year in a restaurant. At home I usually only use cinnamon as it's really sweet enough on it's own.

If you can only eat broccoli if it's covered in velveeta, your salad is swimming in ranch, if all your veggies are fried or if a baked potato is only attractive if it's covered with sour cream, cheese, bacon and butter then you need to take a serious look at your diet. 

Don't you dare utter the words 'at least I'm eating vegetables'. I will not be amused.

Veggies really are delicious all on their own with a pinch of salt. When you deface them with secretions and flesh or deep fry them... you are destroying their flavor and their worth. Plus, eating animal products has totally compromised your taste buds so you won't ever be able to fully appreciate veggies until you stop eating it.

You deserve better.

If you need a little transition time, try using similar products on your veggies ... salsa and fresh veggies on a baked potato, make some vegan queso for your broccoli, switch to Earth Balance instead of butter, maple syrup on your sweet potato, make homemade onion rings and bake them instead of frying them, tempeh bacon instead of pig flesh. You can find a way.


Massaged Kale Salad

Not Roast Crockpot Veggies

Our fave around here ..... Kale Chips - see Mimi Kirk making them here ..... you can also bake these in an oven slowly at 200 degrees or at 350 if you really watch them closely. I mix this with my hand, massaging the ingredients into the leaves.

Easy, Cheesy Kale Chips by Mimi Kirk

1 bunch of curly or dino kale

5-6 tablespoons virgin olive oil

4-5 tablespoons gluten free tamari (or soy sauce or Bragg's Aminos), depending how salty tasting you like them

Nutritional yeast, I just pour on top and mix with tongs until leaves are coated. It’s your choice how cheesy you like them. I like them cheesy.

Sprinkle in seasonings of choice, example; cumin, curry, pizza seasoning, chili pepper or none if you prefer, it’s good just with the nutritional yeast.


Remove stem from kale and place in a bowl. Try to obtain large pieces as the kale shrinks in the dehydrator.

Pour the olive oil on top and mix with tongs until leaves are coated. Add the tamari and mix again. 

Lastly, add nutritional yeast and any seasonings you choose, and mix again. Nutritional yeast get thick when damp, so make sure to scrape sides of the bowl to incorporate.

Place on mesh screen of dehydrator tray and spread out somewhat. One bunch of kale will usually make 3 trays. Dehydrate 3 or more hours at 105–110 degrees until crispy like a potato chip.


I want to talk about beans because many people call them veggies and many people have a deep hatred for beans. First off.. you should eat beans. They are a crazy good source of protein and so full of amazing nutrients and fiber that you are missing out on health wise if you refuse to find a bean or two you can love.

First up - gas. You should know, the more you eat beans, the more your body gets used to them and the less gas you have. If you use dry beans, soaking them and rinsing them before using and/or adding in a piece of kombu into the pot will get rid of the gas inducing properties and make them easier to digest. You can also buy OTC products like Beano.

I usually hear the word 'texture' when it comes to beans. I'm just not sure what an individual means when they say they don't like the texture of beans. Do they not like the bite of whole beans in chili? Do they not like the smoothness of refried beans or hummus?

I know people that love hummus but they tell me they don't like chickpeas. Hummus is made from chickpeas. I know someone that doesn't like straight up black beans but he is fine eating black bean soup or black bean burgers. Some people love pintos and hate kidney beans.

Please don't lump beans into one group... beans have very diverse and distinctive tastes. You really need to try all of them in order to truly say you dislike them. If you like baked beans then you like white northern beans, if you like refried beans then you like pintos, if you like hummus then you like chickpeas/garbanzos and if you like chili, you like kidney/red beans.

And if you are resisting me.. you can make refried beans with black beans, chili with pinto beans, and hummus with any bean. Your excuses are not valid here. If you don't like the texture.. change it.

Here are some tasty bean recipes for you to try:

Pintos & Brown Rice Bowl  - quick Chipotle Burrito Bowl clone!

Here is an easy and delicious recipe for refried beans from Happy Herbivore. I make these just about every week. I like to make quick bean tacos out of it but it's great as a side dish as well. I also add in garlic and onion powder. Feel free to play around with it.

Morgan at The Little House of Veggies makes amazing soups... here are my fave bean based ones:

Black Bean Tortilla Soup. I like to add a squirt of lime juice and ume plum vinegar to mine. You can adjust the texture of this soup. Keep it a little chunky or make it completely smooth.

Split Pea Soup. I make this in the crock pot. I skip the rice milk in this and it's still fantastic.

Two of my fave bean recipes come from Josh - he has this Chick Spread recipe that is really yummy. You can adjust the texture so it's flaky like tuna or smooth like a hummus. I like it as a sandwich or wrap filling or to top a salad. I skip the tofu but I like to add shredded carrot, some No chicken bouillon and extra nutritional yeast to mine. Make it your own! Here is a link to my adjusted recipe.

He also has my fave black bean burger recipe. I double this recipe and freeze the cooked burgers. Then I just thaw in the microwave (or on the counter) and then pan fry in a little olive oil. I love it topped with some chipotle mayo.

You can try my tempeh bacon recipe or my recipe for chocolate mousse! You can also see my review for Soy Curls, which is just soybeans pulled into a meaty ingredient! Try my Chickpea Patties for a great main dish.

Roasted Chickpeas - these are addictive! You can make them any flavor you can think of. I love to make them cajun! You can cook them until they are crunchy or pull them out when they are still soft.

Recipe - Baked Seitan Loaf

Thanksgiving is just a week away so here is a recipe for a basic seitan loaf that is easy .. you bake it!

This recipe is from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson. 

I made the additions to get the flavor closer to the Tofurky brand Hickory Deli Slices. My husband and I both agreed it tastes the same. I usually make half a loaf for the two of us (half loaf is shown in the photo). I slice it up and serve it as the main course along side veggies and potatoes. if you can slice it thin enough, you can use it on a sandwich! It's also great chopped up and stir fried into dishes. I also pan fried it in a little oil and it got a lot like bacon.. I guess, turkey bacon. 

Baked Seitan Loaf

1/2 cup white beans (drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (I use bouillon in water)
2 cups vital wheat gluten (wheat gluten flour)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Shelly's Additions:

1 tsp liquid smoke (if you want a smoked flavor like the Tofurky hickory slices), 1/2 tsp celery salt and some Better Than Bouillon No Chicken flavor bouillon. I didn't measure the bouillon. I just added some into it until it tasted good.

Preheat oven top 350. In a blender or food processor combine beans, soy sauce, oil and broth until smooth.

in a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Mix to combine. Stir wet mixture into dry and make a soft dough. Make sure you have the gluten 'strings' .. pull it apart and you should see some elasticity to it. 

Knead for three minutes and shape into an oval loaf shape.

Place the loaf in an oiled sheet of foil and close it in the foil. Place loaf in a 10 inch baking pan. add an inch of water to the pan and lightly cover the entire pan with foil. Bake until form, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Note from Shelly - It doesn't take the full 1 hour and 45 minutes if you do half a loaf.... make note of how it feels before you bake it and then you'll understand what 'firm' means and when it's done. Also.. the water will burn off so check that and make sure you add more when needed otherwise the bottom of your loaf will be burned.