How to make veggies taste better Print

Turn boring cooked vegetables into something your family will love

This blog post is sponsored by my client Agropur Natrel

I like to think of myself as a foodie first and dietitian second. That means I never ever want to sacrifice flavor and enjoyment in the foods that I eat purely for the sake of health and nutrition. You should love what you eat, and that applies to vegetables too.

For many of the clients the team of dietitians in our nutrition counselling practice work with or in the group discussions of my online nutrition course, we often talk about how to make vegetables more flavorful. If you know you should eat more veggies but have are tired of the same old uninspired ideas – read on, as this is for you.butter on green beans

What makes vegetables hard to love for so many people?

Have you experienced what I like to think of as PTVD (post traumatic vegetable disorder)?

  • Many vegetables are not naturally sweet or savoury and some can even be bitter so you need to learn how to build flavor through the cooking method or what we add to them to synergistically create flavor. Healthy food tastes good, you just need some ideas on how to bring boring veggies such as plain asparagus or cauliflower alive.
  • Many people overcook or boil the heck out of vegetables which makes them taste mushy and simply awful. I gag thinking about overcooked boiled broccoli falling apart on the plate served dry with nothing on top to flavor it.
  • While some frozen and canned vegetables are tasty (such as frozen peas or canned stewed tomatoes or artichokes), many frozen or canned veggies lack taste and texture. If you have access and can afford fresh produce, always go for these. Frozen green beans or canned carrots will simply never taste as good as fresh.

Many foods taste good on their own even if you don’t do much to them, but vegetables require a little bit of love. I want you to not only like a vegetable, but I actually want you to love them and crave them. At this point you may be rolling your eyes and thinking yeah right! Stay with me as I’ve converted many folks into vegetable loving eaters:

vegetable ideas

Fresh and cooked properly

Always start with fresh, high-quality veggies and learn how to cook them to perfection.

  • Any vegetable that has been kicking around in your fridge drawer for a long time naturally is less appealing.
  • Buy seasonal items featured in your local grocery store and head to your local farmers market as in my opinion the vegetables there will be the best of the best.
  • Blanch, lightly steam, pan-fry, stir-fry, roast or grill your veggies. Roasting or grilling vegetables is my absolute favorite since these methods allow a beautiful caramelized flavor to develop adding more sweetness to your veggies. You can roast or grill just about any vegetable (more on that farther down).
  • If you are unsure of the cooking times for a veggie, simply hop online to find out for sure. Set a timer as your beautiful veggies can go from awesome to mush in minutes.healthy eating ideas

Variety matters

  • Keep in mind we are all subject to what researchers call sensory specific satiety, which means our senses (taste, smell and sight) get overwhelmed and numbed when we experience the same repetitive stimulus.
  • Our eyes are much more in charge of what we eat than our stomach. The more variety, often the more we eat. One of the reasons people commonly overeat at a buffet, for example, is due to the fact we love to sample a variety of things. You can use this reverse psychology to trigger yourself to eat more veggies.
  • This means that although it may be cheaper to buy a massive container of spinach this week, it may limit the amount of salad you want to eat this week. It may be more effective to spend a bit more on a smaller amount of spinach, bagged kale salad and head of cabbage for coleslaw (and keep in mind cabbage has a very long shelf life and will last you until next week or longer).

vegetable ideasFlavor with butter, oil, salt and tasty toppings

  • Yup that is right – flavor with butter, oil and salt. I’ve never met a chef that wouldn’t tell you that fat and salt are the key to building flavor in meals. You don’t need to avoid the use of fat and salt in a healthy diet, you need to be mindful of where the best place to add these items will be.
  • A note on butter: As a foodie first and dietitian second, I go for butter over margarine since a little goes a long way to bolster flavor and I like the fact the ingredients are simple. A teaspoon of butter only has about 35 calories and sure adds mega flavor. If you have a family member with a lactose intolerance you can try Natrel lactose free butter made from 2 ingredients – lactose free cream and sea salt. My client Agropur Natrel recently added this to their high-quality lineup from a dairy cooperative in Canada along with an organic sea salt butter made also from only 2 ingredients (organic cream and sea salt).
  • A note on salt: Most of the salt people take into their diet comes from packed and processed foods rather than what is added to freshly prepared vegetables. A small pinch of salt on your veggies can sure round out the bitterness to help you enjoy your vegetables astronomically.easy ideas for more vegetables
  • A note on toppings: While topping your veggies with a spoon of nuts/seeds or diced bacon/pancetta can add some extra calories – often these add so much enjoyment that you will want to eat MORE veggies than other items on your plate.   You can also flavor with very low-calorie ingredients such as fresh chopped herbs (such as parsley or dill), seasonings (such as Italian/Greek seasoning or smoked paprika), balsamic crema, fresh squeezed lemon/orange and more!

Boosted with butter

  • Green/yellow beans – toss steamed beans with butter. Optional: top with chopped toasted almonds or chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil.
  • Parsnips and carrots – chop parsnips and carrots into matchsticks and pan-fry until tender in melted butter with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Top with fresh chopped parsley or dill.
  • Kale/swiss chard – wash kale or chard (don’t dry the leaves as it helps to steam). Cut into ribbons that are ½ -1 inch across the stem. Melt a pat of butter in a saucepan and sauté minced garlic and kale for about 5 minutes until wilted. Remove from heat and stir in a splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Roasted with loveroasted vegetables

  • Beets – tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven or in tinfoil for the BBQ. Optional: Top with goat cheese or feta cheese.
  • Brussels sprouts – tossed with avocado oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven or in tinfoil for the BBQ. Optional: Top with dried cranberries and a drizzle of balsamic crema.
  • Cauliflower – tossed with vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Optional: Top with a drizzle of tahini (sesame seed paste).

Want to see more on this topic? Watch my FACEBOOK LIVE with Global News
I discussed 
different ways you can make delicious vegetables taste better, if cold-pressed juice diets are healthy, and the importance of incorporating some variety into your diet.
WATCH FACEBOOK LIVE VIDEO


Looking for some summer recipe inspiration? Download our recipe list. These tasty options include pot-luck/bbq friendly salads, fruit focused desserts, and some tasty main courses. Hope you enjoy!

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About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
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Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
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“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
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I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
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ARC Resources Ltd.

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