Learn to love vegetables by redefining 'healthy' and 'recipes' (2024)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Do you hate vegetables? I have a theory that one of the biggest reasons for disliking vegetables is because we prepare them in ways that are tasteless and bland.

Since vegetables are probably the most notable “health food,” this is especially true when we eat them while following a meal plan or diet, they are a means to an end rather than a truly enjoyable part of a meal.

In order for you to develop a taste for vegetables, you may need to redefine what “healthy” actually means. We tend to make it very objective — normal lipid profiles, blood pressure within an ideal range, consistent blood sugar levels, etc. Of course, these can be helpful data to assess health, but we may want to dig deeper into our overall well-being, not just numbers on a page. We also can easily accept the popular message that healthy eating equals restrictive eating, which means we leave off the butter or oil or salt that enhances the natural flavor of vegetables.

If you are too hung up on the word “healthy,” you should definitely read this summary of a study which found satisfaction to be a key factor in nutrient absorption. Essentially they had two groups eat a meal that was appealing to one and not to the other. The group who enjoyed their meal had a nutrient absorption 70 percent higher than the group who didn’t report satisfaction. They reproduced their results using a pureed form of the formerly enjoyable meal. This was eaten by the same group who enjoyed the meal in its whole form, but this time nutrient absorption was 70 percent lower because it “looked gross."

Clearly, it’s essential we redefine what healthy means when it comes to food and certainly factor in satisfaction. Ellyn Satter, registered dietitian and eating competence expert, has said, “When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers.” We are hard-wired to feel satisfaction from food and, as noted in the above study, it’s actually tied to overall nutritional adequacy. You may find that giving yourself permission to feel satisfied actually allows you to settle into something flexible and nourishing.

Instead of gagging down overcooked, mushy, bland vegetables, we can prepare them in ways that are simple, appealing and satisfying, creating a more nutrient dense intake overall. I’ve recruited the help of some of my fellow dietitian food bloggers for recipes that will fit that criteria — easy, fast, flavorful and satisfying. I hope this discussion and these recipes will help you change your mind about vegetables…and about healthy eating in general.

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    Learn to love vegetables by redefining 'healthy' and 'recipes' (2024)


    What are the best vegetables for women's health? ›

    Such as spinach, kale, SwissChard, and romaine lettuce; high in vitamin K which can help protect bones from osteoporosis and help prevent inflammatory diseases; high in antioxidants and may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods as well as decrease the risk of heart disease; ideal for adding “volume” to your meal ...

    What are the healthiest vegetables for men? ›

    Orange vegetables are an excellent source of beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C. These nutrients may lower your odds of developing an enlarged prostate, according to a large study. Good choices include red bell peppers, carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes.

    Are vegetables actually good for you? ›

    A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check.

    What is the number 2 healthiest vegetable? ›

    2. Kale. Kale has become more popular as a health food in the past few decades. But this leafy green vegetable has been used as medicine for much longer than that.

    What vegetable has no health benefits? ›

    Veggie: Celery

    In fact, this vegetable doesn't contribute much to your body at all. The long, green stalks lacks many of the nutrients often found in other green vegetables, like vitamins C and A. Your body relies on vitamin C to help grow and repair cells, and vitamin A to promote eye, skin and bone health.

    How do you train your brain to crave healthy food? ›

    Try these top strategies for learning to crave healthy foods
    1. Identify what you truly need. ...
    2. Manage stress. ...
    3. Link healthier foods with a relaxation response. ...
    4. Don't make treats off-limits. ...
    5. Check your baseline nutrition intake. ...
    6. Enjoy the desired food with a healthy pairing. ...
    7. Alter your food cues. ...
    8. Eat mindfully.

    Can you train yourself to like foods? ›

    Here are some strategies that can help you learn to enjoy foods you currently don't: eat, and keep eating. Only a small portion is needed to build a liking for a specific taste over time. It may take 10–15 attempts or more before you can say you “like” the food.

    How do I make myself like fruit and vegetables? ›

    Pair with foods you already like: Start by adding a slice of tomato to a beloved hamburger or mushrooms into an omelette. Play with texture: If you hate mushy vegetables, try raw, shredded, roasted or stir-fried versions instead. Love crunchy foods? Try baked kale or beet “chips.”

    What vegetable should I eat everyday? ›

    Healthy eating means consuming more dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and other dark leafy greens. Include more red or orange vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and legumes, in your diet (dry beans and peas).

    What to eat instead of vegetables? ›

    How to Eat Healthy Without Eating Vegetables
    • Focus on fruits. Many of the vitamins and minerals found in vegetables can also be found in fruits. ...
    • Go for whole grains. ...
    • Go for healthy fats in place of bad fats. ...
    • Choose low-fat dairy products.

    What is the most important vegetable? ›

    1. Spinach. Share on Pinterest Andersen Ross/Getty Images. Spinach is a leafy green vegetable and a great source of calcium, vitamins, iron, and antioxidants.

    What are the best vegetables for women's hormones? ›

    Broccoli, broccoli sprouts, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy are all known as cruciferous vegetables. These veggies help your liver metabolize estrogen. The plant sterols in avocados help regulate estrogen and progesterone, which can help regulate ovulation.

    What are the best foods for female gut health? ›

    Prebiotics are found in whole grains. They are rich in fiber, which we are unable to digest, but which the bacteria living in our gut love. Common whole grains in the American diet include wheat, oats, brown rice and corn. But there are tons more options –try couscous, barley, chia, flaxseed, quinoa, sorghum or kasha.

    What foods are good for the female body? ›

    Here are a few healthy eating tips for women:
    • Consume vitamin C-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits such as lemon.
    • Eat lean red meat.
    • Eat seafood and poultry food.
    • Avoid coffee, tea, or milk during meals.
    • The daily requirement of iron–18 mg/day for an adult woman and 27 mg/day if pregnant.
    Dec 19, 2023

    What are the top 3 healthiest vegetables? ›

    What are the most healthful vegetables?
    • Spinach.
    • Kale.
    • Broccoli.
    • Peas.
    • Sweet potatoes.
    • Beets.
    • Carrots.
    • Fermented vegetables.

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