This recipe was submitted by Lisa Bermas, Toronto-based photographer, recipe developer, and nature enthusiast.
Here’s the thing, you either have a love or hate relationship with veggies. If you are reading this you might be a like-minded individual who loves vegetables. In fact, half or more of your plate may possibly be loaded with veggies! Let’s face it though, most people would rather be eating the other kind of carbs: pasta, pizza, and fries, and there is nothing wrong with all those foods; it is all about balance and you know it!
Perhaps you are someone who does not eat vegetables simply because you did not grow up eating a whole lot of vegetables and thus are intimidated by the idea of buying them and/or cooking with them. Eating veggies is often challenging for many reasons. It could be because of the taste, texture, short shelf life and our negative perceptions. A healthy relationship with food starts at a young age. Regardless of age, our loved ones play a huge role in forming our perceptions of food. That being said, adopting a positive attitude toward healthier foods, such as vegetables and fruits, starts with the elimination of using food as a reward or punishment.
For instance saying “if you don’t eat your Brussels sprouts you won’t get an extra cookie for dessert” can reinforce the idea that vegetables, such as the sprouts, are actually a punishment food. Instead, you can try setting a good example for your little ones from the start, here are some helpful tips:
- Allow them to help with meal prep
- Try to eat together in a relaxed setting
- Avoid creating individualized meals for different members of the family
- Avoid fast food/ refined meals
Keep in mind that food is often the element that kids first have control over. If you want your child to develop good eating habits you have to demonstrate healthy habits from the beginning.
Learning to incorporate veggies isn’t just for kids…
Regardless of if you have kids or not an easy way to make veggies taste great is by actually incorporating them into everyday items like burgers, brownies, pasta etc. But, instead of hiding the veggies why not embrace them? We have shared so many great recipes with you that will allow you to do just that.
Just check out some of our veggie emphasized recipes, like our Cheesy Dill Kale Chips and our Jicama French Fries with Dijon Dill Yogurt Dip, they will inspire even the biggest veggie naysayers.
The earlier you train your mind to realize that veggies can taste great, the easier it is to incorporate them into your everyday meal preparation and adopt a healthy lifestyle. If you are feeling overwhelmed already by all this talk of the so-called foreign “veggies”, remember to start small.
Here are some easy ways to start the transition over to a plant-based lifestyle:
- Try adding one plant-based meal a week (Meatless Monday perhaps)
- Experiment with new veggies – you will be surprised to find how many veggies you actually enjoy
- Find recipes that inspire you
- Make fresh cut veggies part of your snacks
- Familiarize yourself with the produce aisle at your local grocery store
- Consider freezing your cut veggies so meal prep is more convenient
We like to be sneaky sometimes by tricking the mind into believing that what we are eating can’t actually be vegetables because they are too damn yummy. For instance, fries are downright delicious, as are kale chips; but these veggies taken as they are without any seasoning or preparation can be very bland. People often do not think of these items as vegetables because they taste good and that often surprises our minds. That being said, one way to enjoy veggies without even noticing them is by seasoning them with some old-fashioned herbs and spices. There are so many variations on kale chips whether it be with coconut oil, chili powder, garlic, sea salt, nutritional yeast or a combination of things; regardless these things oomph up the kale. The same goes with fries – a vegetable just FYI. 🙂
Another helpful tip is to try turning veggies into dips. We are all familiar with guacamole, and we know what you are thinking, “the avocado is technically a fruit”…shhh we will count it as a veggie in this case because guacamole often contains other veggies. There are so many fun dips you can create all you need is a good food processor, or even a bad one that you just curse at every now and then.
Some tasty vegetables/fruits you can experiment with in dips include: beet, artichoke, butternut squash, watercress, carrot, eggplant, and zucchini. Likewise, blending some veggies into your morning smoothie or juicing is an easy way to sneak some extra veggies into your diet with the added bonus of fiber and nutrients. The boring taste that you often associate with some vegetables can easily be masked this way.
Some recipes we have that went the ‘hiding/ incorporating route’ include our Spinach & Artichoke Herb Hummus, Skin Glowing Avocado Rush Smoothie and our Crock Pot Vegan Sweet Potato Chili.
Whether or not you want to conceal veggies or put them in plain sight, you have so many options to work with. We find that moving the veggies out of the crisper drawers actually encourages us to use them more. With them hiding in the crisper you are likely only to find them when they are already wilted. As with other things in our life, the out of sight out of mind concept comes into play here. If you don’t want to continue wasting money on fresh produce place them in sight. If you tend to meal prep why not also prepare those veggies ahead of time so you can easily throw them into your meals? Whether it is for buddha bowls, salads, smoothies, or that lasagna; having veggies in sight makes it easier to utilize them for whatever your heart desires.
Lastly, and probably the easiest way to utilize veggies, is by incorporating them into your favourite meals. Most vegetables are extremely versatile and can easily help add some extra love to your favourite dish. If you love pasta consider zucchini noodles, homemade tomato or pesto sauce. If you love chips play around with a dehydrator or baking veggies such as beet, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and kale chips. If you love pizza, you can challenge yourself to create a vegetable crust or simply just add a few more cut veggies on to your pizza. There are seriously endless options that are probably making you question why you never even thought of these things; but honestly, it is no big deal! Now that we have planted these ideas in your mind you should be feeling inspired or at least less terrified to make the first move.
Besides all these fabulous ways to enjoy veggies, eating your vegetables is of course so good for you! Vegetables are nutrient dense, well researched in reducing our risk of many forms of diseases, vital for maintaining good health, and their versatility is a plus in our books. Big changes come from small steps, start today and transform your life for the better!
Lisa Bermas is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist™ originally from Toronto. Her passion is to empower individuals to take health into their own hands with the guiding principles of plant-based nutrition.
Lisa was intrigued to pursue an education in the alternative medicine field, in large part due to her experience with conventional doctors, who often wrote off her joint pain as either ‘growing pains’ or, simply put, ‘nothing’. She later linked this pain to changes in barometric pressure, poor absorption, and a highly inflammatory and acidic diet. The decision to turn to this field of medicine also stemmed from her realization that many doctors are essentially looking at the human body as individual parts rather than as a whole, integrated system. Lisa firmly believes that the integral link to our physical health is the connection between body, mind, and spirit.
In addition, Lisa studied Homeopathic Medicine and completed an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Biology and Health Studies at the University of Toronto. She is also a bunny mom, a passionate photographer and writer. Scroll through her feed on Instagram: @empowereats