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Making Veggies More Enjoyable to Eat

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

Last week I asked my followers on Instagram what their least favorite vegetables were. I had a whole variety of responses but most of them agreed on several ones like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and mushrooms. I then shared the responses and told everyone that I will be making recipes that don't include any of these vegetables.


Well, I lied. The whole point of this experiment was to actually gather data on people's least favorite vegetables and make a list of how to incorporate them into their daily lives. I'm going to start alphabetically and provide you all with picture examples and descriptions on how to cook, season, and enjoy all these less desired vegetables. I promise you all, you're going to change your minds after you try these ways out!

 

1. Arugula: Ah yes, the bitter leafy green people tend not to like. But I am here to change your mind. I simply cannot exist without arugula anymore because I have found the best ways to enjoy it! The bitterness of the arugula actually combines very well with flavors that you never thought to experiment with.


OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: When it comes to enjoying arugula, you just need to know how to blend it with other ingredients. When using it as a salad base, it's important to use olive oil and lemon to calm the bitterness down of the arugula. Follow any of my arugula salad recipes for the lemon vinaigrette.

Now, there are certain foods that I think pair super well with arugula: pomegranate, olives, walnuts, and tahini. So, you're going to see an array of recipes I've made using those ingredients!


Another way to enjoy arugula is to actually chop it up. It's way easier to eat and it blends better with the rest of the ingredients, so there won't be an over-empowering arugula taste. I use it in pasta salads for extra texture and flavor!

Personally, my favorite way to use arugula is on bread. I love using it in sandwiches and on avocado/tahini toasts. When you take a full bite of the bread you can't really get too much of an arugula flavor.


All of the flavors combine well enough to fully enjoy the arugula. In the mornings I love to make a toast with tahini, egg, red pepper paste, and arugula. The red pepper paste and tahini overpower the arugula taste!


Lastly, if you simply can't stand the taste of arugula fresh, you can blend it into a puree. I use arugula to create a delicious pesto!


These are four of my recipes you can find on my blog:

1. Lentil Pomegranate Salad

2. Mediterranean Inspired Chickpea Pasta Salad

3. Tahini Toast With Harissa Egg

4. Jalapeño Arugula Pesto Pasta





 

2. Asparagus: I get why people tend to not like asparagus. When it's not cooked well the bottoms can be super chewy and not enjoyable to eat. But I am here to tell you how to perfectly enjoy them.


I truly believe asparagus is such an overlooked vegetable, nobody really knows how to incorporate them into their diet and are overwhelmed with how to cook them. When in reality, they are super simple to cook and are a great source of vitamin B6.


It's important to ensure you're getting vitamin B6 into your diet because it effects your serotonin and dopamine levels. Eating asparagus can "technically" have an effect on your mood! How cool right?

OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: Grab your asparagus and make sure to chop off the ends, about 2-3 inches worth. Now, grab a baking pan or a frying pan, it's up to you whether if you want to bake them or sauté them.


Baking: Preheat the oven to 350. Add the asparagus to the baking pan and drizzle on a decent amount of olive oil. Make sure all of the asparagus is equally coated.


Now, my favorite way to season asparagus is with salt, black pepper, minced garlic cloves, and dried oregano. Season to your liking and bake in the oven until the asparagus ends have softened. If you can put an entire fork through, they are good to go. You can sprinkle on freshly grated parmigiano-

reggiano or drizzle on balsamic glaze as garnish.

Sauté: In a frying pan, add in 2 TBSPS of olive oil and 3-4 minced cloves of garlic. Stir on medium high and add in the asparagus. Season with salt and cover the pan. Sauté until the asparagus is well cooked through. At the end, season with freshly ground black pepper and garnish with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.


When I make asparagus, I tend to pair it with a chicken/salmon/steak dish, and have the asparagus on the side. You can decide to also chop the asparagus up into smaller pieces and add them to a salad. It will be easier to eat.

This is one of my recipes I made that you can find on my blog:

Cilantro Onion Purée Over Baked Salmon Served with Baked Asparagus & Potatoes

 

3. Broccoli: This is definitely a least favorite vegetable of many but I can tell you why. It's because people don't cook it properly. They let the broccoli get too dry and they don't allow it to cook all the way through. It starts to taste like you're basically eating a tree.

The best way to enjoy broccoli is by using it as a base of a salad or nourish bowl. It's much easier to eat and you can enjoy the true flavors of broccoli this way.


OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: Grab a head of broccoli and chop them into smaller pieces. You want each piece to be as big as half of your thumb. Place them onto a baking pan and coat them well with olive oil. Making sure you drizzle on olive oil so that the broccoli softens while they're baking.


Season accordingly to any recipe you have. I like to season broccoli with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Bake on 375 for about 15 minutes. When you take them out they should be soft.


When you use them as the base of a salad it's basically acting like a leafy green. When we use leafy greens in a salad we tend to coat the salad with a delicious dressing or vinaigrette. So, the flavors of the olive oil coated broccoli and the dressing/vinaigrette on top will make a delightful salad.


These are two of my recipes you can find on my blog:

1. Shredded Chicken Breast on a Bed of Broccoli with Balsamic Glaze

2. Honey Maple Glazed Salmon and Broccoli On a Bed of Quinoa & Kale


 

4. Brussel Sprouts: These can be straight up gross and I couldn't agree more with you all. But like I said so many times, you just need to know HOW to cook them. They can be so delicious and add a great crunch to any meal you add them to. They are an incredible source of vitamin C and dietary fiber, so I can't have you missing out on these mini beauties!

OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: The best way to enjoy brussel sprouts is to chop them in halves or smaller pieces. Sometimes they are just too hard to bite into and it takes away the real taste of them. The best way to cook them in my opinion is in the oven and seasoning is important!


Baking: If you want to bake them in the oven, preheat the oven to 375. Chop the brussel sprouts into halves or quarters. Place them into a bowl and drizzle on a generous amount of olive oil and lemon. You want to soften the brussel sprouts up. Next, season with salt, black pepper, and zaatar. The zaatar goes SO well with the brussel sprouts and kills that bitter taste.

The other way you can enjoy brussel sprouts is by making them the base of a salad. Chopping them up into smaller pieces and then enjoying them with other ingredients is SO much more enjoyable to eat!


I've found that the best ingredients that go with brussel sprouts are: pomegranates, zaatar, tahini, walnuts, bleu cheese, balsamic glaze, lemon, and radishes.


These are two of my recipes you can find on my blog:

1. Zaatar Brussel Sprouts

2. Brussel Sprout Salad with Bleu Cheese and Pomegranate

 

5. Celery: The plainest, grossest vegetable to be completely honest with you. I can't blame anyone for cutting celery out of their life. There's not much to it, but I do love it in my soups and salads when its used correctly! It's a great source of antioxidants and full of fiber.

OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: I've found that when you chop celery into smaller pieces it's easier to add to any salad. (I also think there's a correlation between chopping veggies up into smaller pieces and taste!) When you add the celery pieces into a salad with other delicious ingredients in it, you really can't taste the celery. All you get is a great crunch.


The other way to incorporate celery is by using it for mirepoix. "Mirepoix is a combination of aromatic vegetables that give a subtle background flavor to soups, stews, and braises" (Martha Stewart). When you use celery in a soup it just provides the soup with a thicker, more flavorful taste! You get your source of celery in without having to bite into it!

These are two of my recipes you can find on my blog:

1. Buffalo Chicken Arugula Salad

2. Chicken Tortilla Soup with Avocado Cilantro Jalapeño Crema












 

6. Eggplant: See, this one, I just can't believe. Eggplant is like the cauliflower of the Middle East. It's so versatile and you can eat it in so many forms! My one piece of advice I can give anyone that hates eggplant is to eat it as a dip or broil it in thinner slices.


Eggplant can be so delightful if you know how to cook it! It can be pretty slimy if you don't eat it correctly so I'm here to inspire you all to become eggplant fanatics just like me!

OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: Can't stand eggplant? I got you. Grab an eggplant, wash it well, and place it on one of your baking oven racks and place a pan underneath it. If any of the liquid falls it will fall into the pan. Once the eggplant is done after 30-35 minutes, gently peel off the skin. Chop up the inner part of the eggplant into smaller pieces and add into a salad bowl. Drizzle on ½ lemon, olive oil, sprinkle on salt, black pepper, and add the minced garlic. Mix well.


Now it's up to you if you want to add extra flavors and make a salad. My favorite pairings with eggplant are: pomegranate, parsley, cilantro, balsamic glaze, lemon, tomato, scallions, lentils, and chickpeas.

Next, you repeat the first way but make a Middle Eastern eggplant dip like Mutabbal or Baba Ghannoush. Unlike the first way, you're actually mashing a variety of flavors in with the eggplant so it's going to taste a whole lot less like eggplant.


Lastly, you can choose to broil the eggplant. I love it this way and I promise it's a huge hit at my house, even with the people who tend to avoid eggplant as well! Grab an eggplant, and slice it vertically into thinner slices. Grab a baking pan, and drizzle a generous amount of olive oil onto each slice.


Season with salt, black pepper, minced garlic cloves, and go from there. You can season with dried oregano, dried cilantro, rosemary, or thyme. Any herb can go really well with eggplant. Make sure each slice is evenly coated with seasoning, and broil them in the oven until they are softer, but don't let them burn. It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes.

These are three of my recipes you can find on my blog:

1. Salatat Batanjan aka Eggplant Salad

2. Mutabbal aka Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

3. Baked Eggplant Appetizer












 

7. Green/red/yellow bell peppers: I guess I get this one, they are so bland. But did you know they are actually an incredible source of vitamin C? When we were children, adults told us that oranges are the cure to any cold because of their vitamin C, when in reality, bell peppers, kiwis, and brussel sprouts were even more!


This is your sign to learn how to love bell peppers because they are truly so wonderful for us and they are easy to incorporate into each meal without having to taste them. The key is to hide them in each meal and not make them the main ingredient. All you'll get is a small crunch, but a big punch of vitamin C!


OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION:

I know, raw bell peppers are just NOT it. It's like eating an apple but a little spicier. But I'm here to tell you that you can incorporate bell peppers into your meals by just finely dicing them. When you finely dice them, you're left with smaller chunks that are going to blend in with the rest of the ingredients in the meal.


For example, this Citrus Salad: you have kiwi, mango, shrimp, cilantro, and quinoa. You really think you're going to be able to taste the red bell pepper chunks? Fugheeet ah bout it.


Another example is this Black Bean Dip with Zhoug Sauce. You really think, that with a spicy, cilantro sauce on top of a bed of black beans, that you're going to taste the green bell peppers? Cmon now.


I'm telling you guys, once you finely dice bell peppers and add them into a thick salad/bowl, you will not get anything out of them than a mere crunch. I know, "Jasmin, why would I add bell peppers into my meal if I won't get any taste out of them then?" I'll respond with, "It's the vitamin C for me!!"

One last way you can incorporate bell peppers into your diet is by sautéing

them. I made these amazing buffalo chicken subs for my family and I and the way I healthified them was by adding some veggies!


One of the veggies was green bell pepper. I simply grabbed a frying pan, added in olive oil and chili onion crunch from Trader Joe's, and added in thinly sliced green bell pepper. I sautéed them for about 5-8 minutes and salted them at the end. You couldn't even tell you were eating green bell peppers! It's all about having fun and being creative when you're cooking, people!


These are three of my recipes you can find on my blog:

  1. Black Bean Dip with Zhoug Sauce

  2. Citrus Shrimp Salad with a Brown Rice and Arugula Base

  3. Dairy Free Buffalo Chicken Subs

 

8. Kale: I can't say I blame you. Kale is probably the least liked leafy green and it's because of it's bitter taste and weird texture. But fear no more, I am HERE to change your mind. Did you know, that specifically, sautéed kale, is an incredible mycotoxin binder?


All of the produce, wine, nuts, seeds, grains we eat unfortunately are prone to mycotoxins binding to them from pesticide use and such, so we end up consuming them too. However, there are foods like green tea, arugula, aloe vera, and sautéed kale, that are natural mycotoxin binders that cling on to these toxins in the body, and remove them from our system when we go to the bathroom. It's a natural "detoxer."


I learned this information from my dietitian when I had severe mold issues. So, this is why I'm a BIG kale fan and am here to tell you how to incorporate it into your life, deliciously.

OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: The first way to eat kale is to sauté it. I fully believe that sautéed kale is 10x better than raw kale. The olive oil and seasonings make it way more enjoyable. Give this brunch bowl a chance: Grab fresh Tuscan kale, chop it up very thinly, and add it to a frying pan with olive oil. Add salt and a dash of red pepper flakes for a kick of flavor. Sauté until the kale has completely wilted.


The other way you can enjoy kale is by massaging it and making it the base of a salad. When you properly massage kale, you lose the bitter, crunchy taste from kale and it's easier to digest. So, grab your tuscan kale or regular kale, and put it into a bowl. Drizzle on extra virgin olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon, and season with salt to your liking.


Crunch the kale into your hands very well until you are unable to hear the crunch anymore. Now, you can go ahead and create a lovely salad. If you add the right ingredients you won't be able to taste the kale like you would have beforehand.

These are two of my recipes you can find on my blog: 1. Egg White Omelette Brunch Bowl

2. Baked Eggplant and Chickpea Nourish Bowl with Creamy Tahini Dressing









 

9. Mushrooms: Can I really blame you? They have a slimy texture and if they aren't cooked right, they can leave a really nasty after-taste. However, I am one of those people who cannot live without mushrooms. I cook them just the right way and they always come out delicious!


The first thing to know about mushrooms is that they don't last a while in your fridge. You should eat them within the first week you buy them for optimal consumption. They will not be slimy when you cook them, I promise!


The second thing to know about mushrooms is that they are a natural source of vitamin D. There are a select amount of things that have vitamin D, and since it's such a vital vitamin that most people in Northern parts of the world lack, it's key to incorporate mushrooms into your diet!

OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: First things first, you are not going to eat raw mushrooms. They need to be cooked! The best way to enjoy them is by sautéing them. You lose all the slime and only enjoy the flavor of the olive oil they're being sautéed in.


Say you want to add mushrooms to a salad, what you can do is grab a box of "baby bella mushrooms". Grab a frying pan, drizzle in 1-2 TBSPS olive oil and 2 minced garlic cloves. Add in the mushrooms. Season with salt and black pepper to your liking, and sauté until the mushrooms are well toasted, about 5 minutes.


Then, you can add the mushrooms to the salad and all of the flavors from the rest of the salad will diminish the flavor of the mushrooms even more. Especially if there is a delicious dressing on top. Take this, "Grilled Salmon Bowl with Grilled Broccolini and a Cilantro Tahini Dressing". The flavors all blend so well and you will become a new fan of mushrooms after making it!

The other way you can incorporate mushrooms into your diet is by simply adding them into pasta sauces. When you're creating your pasta sauce, you can add in mushrooms into the sauce and it will just add a slight crunch.


You will not be able to taste the mushrooms as much because the sauce you created will overpower the taste of the mushrooms. It's important to let go of mindset you have when it comes to mushrooms. They can be a great addition to foods if you have an open mindset. This "Black Squid Ink Pasta in San Marzano Tomato and Mushroom Sauce" will change your mind for sure!


These are two of my recipes you can find on my blog:

1. Grilled Salmon Bowl with Grilled Broccolini and a Cilantro Tahini Dressing

2. Spicy Black Squid Ink Pasta in San Marzano Tomato and Mushroom Sauce Topped With Seared Scallops

 

10. Squash/Zucchini: You guys kind of surprised me with this one! Squash and zucchini can be so delicious if you have fun with them! There are so many kinds to choose from and when they are in season in the fall time, they can be so heart-warming and nourishing for the body. Let me show you three different ways to enjoy squash and zucchini!

OPTIMAL CONSUMPTION: The first recipe is "Veggie Stuffed Zucchini Boats Topped With Manchego Cheese". My favorite way to eat zucchini is by making zucchini boats. You get to stuff the zucchini with whatever your heart desires while enjoying the nutrients that come from the zucchini.


You'll be forgetting that you're even eating zucchini in the first place! When it comes to making zucchini boats, all you have to do is chop the zucchini in halves vertically and use a spoon to empty out the middle. Don't throw out the inside, you can sauté them! Once you have emptied out all of the zucchinis, you place them on a baking pan, drizzle on olive oil, and season to your liking. Bake in the oven until crispy. You can follow the full recipe on my blog!

Another way to incorporate squash/zucchini into your diet is by eating spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is a great, healthy alternative to pasta. (Not saying to not enjoy real pasta, but this is a new way to enjoy this vegetable).


I made this delicious Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash and you will be SHOCKED at how enjoyable squash can be. You just need to think outside the box when it comes to cooking. You can read the entire recipe on my blog! Spaghetti squash is a large vegetable and it can be intimidating to make, but my full recipe explains the whole process.


The last way I love eating squash is by incorporating it into a soup! When you puree it at the end, you can't even tell that you're eating squash. Another squash that I enjoy in the fall time is kabocha squash. Don't be intimidated by this one either. If you follow my entire recipe for my "Kabocha Squash Lentil Soup" you will be amazed at how delicious squash can be!


These are three of my recipes you can find on my blog:

  1. Veggie Stuffed Zucchini Boats Topped With Manchego Cheese

  2. Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

  3. Kabocha Squash Lentil Soup

 

As I continue on in my cooking journey, I will continue to add recipes/ways to enjoy vegetables that you guys tend to dislike. I will live my life proving to you guys that vegetables just need extra effort and attention in order to make them enjoyable! Message me if you have any questions/if you tried my techniques and changed your mind!


xoxo,

#averagearabgirl 💋


#healthylifestyle#vegetableslover#vegetablesarelife#vegetablesarefun#vegetablesofinstagram#cookingathome#cookingisfun#discoverunder5k#bostonfoodbloggers


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