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Old 22 August 2013, 07:09 AM
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Icon05 I'm looking for some good ideas for adding vegetables to my diet

I realized that lately I am really not eating very many vegetables/fruit, so I'm looking for some good not too complex recipes or ideas for adding vegetables to my diet. I am trying to eat healthier and also hoping it may help me to not feel so hungry all the time so I won't go over my recommended calories/fat/etc...
The problem is I'm really picky and there are a lot of veggies I don't like, so I have trouble sometimes finding things to eat and I get bored easily with eating the same veggies over and over. For instance I don't like onions, peppers, tomatoes(except as tomato sauce), radishes, squash, most leafy greens (I do like spinach)...
I'm just out of ideas, the most I usually do is stir-fry some zucchini with lemon butter-- eaten over pasta so not that healthy, or I just steam something (boring!) I tend to stick to the same few veggies all the time because they're cheap and fast. I've been making a lot of those frozen steam-in-bag veggie sides just to try to add more vegetables to my meals but I am getting really tired of them. I am also trying to keep things lower calorie/fat if possible. Any help or ideas? Things that I can make ahead for the next day or that sort of thing would also be good.
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Old 22 August 2013, 10:02 AM
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Roasting veggies in the oven. Cauliflower broken up into florets, celeriac cubed, Brussels sprouts cut in half, asparagus, or lots of other things can be delicious this way. Put a small amount of olive oil in a bowl and toss the veggies to coat them, then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Roast in oven until lightly browned. For oven temp, it varies a bit and has, for me, some trial and error to it, partly because our oven thermostat is screwy. Start with 350 degrees and adjust from there, or look for a recipe online.
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Old 22 August 2013, 11:03 AM
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My dw did something I've never heard of the other night. She cooked our cucumber. It was sliced in about half-inch thick slices and, I guess, sauteed with some spices. It was surprisingly good, kind of like a zucchini. It's the kind of thing that could probably get soggy quickly so I would think to cook it quickly, or even maybe press them a bit to get some of the water out.

I find that vegetables are better cooked either just a wee bit to make them chewable and digestible or a whole lot so that they are part of a stew or something.
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Old 22 August 2013, 11:35 AM
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Hide the vegetables. Put them in other things. You can easily put a serving of spinach in 2 servings of beans. It will taste different but it won't taste spinachy
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Old 22 August 2013, 11:57 AM
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but MJ, she likes spinach - let her hide one she doesn't like.

Shredding can make a hard veggie seem entirely different, particularly things like carrots, turnips, rutabaga, broccoli. T?hey can then be sprinkled on salads, or make a salad themselves, or put on a sandwich.

Try some new varieties. There are a dozen or so varieties of lettuce at big grocery stores. Iceberg tends to be bland: others have a variety of flavors and textures, and just changing up might keep it interesting. There are many different tomatoes, beans, and various other veggies, all with different flavors.

Oh, if you get a chance to try some homegrown, don't pass it up, even if you have not liked that veggie before. The difference between a vine-ripened tomato and a grown-for-market tomato is hard to believe.

Go out of your accustomed choices - turnip greens are really quite tasty. So are collards. I am not as much a fan of mustard greens, but you may like them.

Parsnips are delicious sliced lengthways and sauted till brown on the edges. Or steamed, or in a soup or stew.

Speaking of stew, if you make a stew you can put in tons of veggies, larger chunks for some like potatoes carrots and sweet potatoes, smaller for others, and with a slow cook, they will still have some of their own flavor, but they will take on lots of flavors from the other vegs, the meat and the seasonings.

And don't feel guilty about passing over some. Celery is in many ways more of a seasoning with fiber than a vegetable, in that it provides almost no nutrition. Lots of people don't eat most beans, for various reasons, and they can be perfectly healthy.
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Old 22 August 2013, 01:27 PM
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Excellent suggestions so far!

A couple of others:

To fill up on low-cal foods, I eat the veggies first. That is, even if I've "hidden" other veggies in a sauce, I still try to have an "official" cooked veggie or salad on the side. This ensures that I get plenty of fiber, which means that it takes longer for me to get really hungry.

I have a piece of fruit (fresh or dried, not canned in syrup) as dessert. More fiber.

Some people prefer sweeter flavors, and some prefer tart flavors. I just steamed some broccoli for the veggie part of my lunch, and added fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and a smidgeon of flaxseed oil. If you prefer tart flavors, you could use a splash of lemon or lime juice.

Some folks prefer raw veggies, some prefer cooked. DH loves raw veggies, so I pack him a salad and carrot sticks to take to work. I prefer cooked, so that's what we get when we eat dinner together (= when I'm the cook!).

I'm not a fan of the texture of mushrooms (*shiver*), but I have discovered that I love the umami flavor that they add to sauces -- when they're chopped reeeaaally fine so that I don't have to chew them!

Some people prefer separate flavors. They like to pick out a piece of recognizable whatever and be able to enjoy its flavor all by itself. I prefer to mix everything up, and enjoy seeing what the overall flavor of a dish is when all the ingredients are in balance. We called this "schlumpf" in my childhood family (I think it was because we were very poor, and very little of the individual ingredients were fabulous on their own). So nowadays I still tend to cook this way, and have to force myself to occasionally put piles of separate ingredients on the plate to please DH's palate. Then I mix everything up on my plate.

There are lots of things for you to explore about your own tastes. Veggies are still not my favorite part of the meal, but I have found some ways to make them enjoyable.

Best wishes for your culinary adventures!
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:01 PM
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There are salads that are not green and leafy. Look for recipes for carrot salad, cucumber salad, etc. There are tons of variations on those. Plus, they can easily be made ahead.

Do you like beets? Or could you? I really like these, especially the "sweetfire" flavor.
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:11 PM
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Another thing - I have taken to making open-face sandwiches, using romaine lettuce as the top layer so that I can hold it like a regular sandwich without my hand getting icky. That gets me less bread, more veggie.
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:12 PM
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Also, for me, differrent vegetables have to be cooked differrently. I won;t touch them unless they are cooked right. For example, whoever thought that brocolli should be steamed should be steamed themselves. It stinks when it's steamed. Brocolli has to be stir-fried, preferably with butter. No sauce. No nothing. Just fry it in a pan/wok and I'll eat a plateful.

WHy do people cook cabbage? I mean why? It's perfectly good eaten raw in a salad. What's the need to mess with good enough? and make it all soggy Carrots too. Why cook something that is perfectly good without cooking?. I can eat 10-12 raw baby carrots everyday. What is the need to cut it or boil it or steam it or do anything else except put them in your mouth?!

Zucchini and other squash vegetables have to be hidden though. Until I started reducing my carbs, I loved some of that zucchini bread. Yummy! Also, all green vegetables need to show me some respect. Don;t look me in the eye. Avert your gaze as I pass by. Hide inside stuff when I eat you. Don;t be all like hey "I'm a piece of kale... eat me eat me"
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:20 PM
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I love cooked cabbage and hate it raw. To each their own.

Also, I'll happily eat raw carrots, but if they're cooked I want them soft, not crisp. They taste radically different cooked, and I like them both ways. The Joy of Cooking has a recipe for glazed carrots that I really like.
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:23 PM
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My tip for eating more fruit is to not hide it in the fridge. I keep a decorative bowl on the end table next to my favorite chair, and while watching TV will reach for an apple or banana for a snack, where as if I kept them in the fridge, I might not bother. I know this sounds like the height of laziness, but it works for me when it comes to a choice between fruit or chips.
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
Hide the vegetables. Put them in other things.
Seriously, casseroles are great for increasing vegetable intake. However, I would seriously advise against hiding vegetables for other people.

I also agree that keeping the fruit front and center makes it easier to remember to eat it. I don't like cold fruit, anyway (I have sensitive teeth, and cold fruit can hurt to eat). Since I can afford it, I also only buy enough of a particular fruit to eat in one sitting. It reduces waste.

I like cabbage, and it's great added to things like pulled meat sandwiches and burritos. Throw it in at the last minute and it stays crunchy. The same is true of shredded carrots.

Seaboe
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
Hide the vegetables. Put them in other things. You can easily put a serving of spinach in 2 servings of beans. It will taste different but it won't taste spinachy
Seconded. Take any fresh vegetables you generally don't like and chop into pretty much a fine powder. You can hide 2-3 servings of vegetables into pretty much anything with a strong flavor that way.

You could easily hide 3-4 servings of chopped kale or broccoli in say a lasagna or pizza without the taste really standing out.
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Old 22 August 2013, 02:53 PM
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Oh yes pizza, good point. A lot of flavors dissolve in fat. So, if you mix something with a strong flavor with a bunch of shredded chesses, the fat in cheese will absorb the flavor, and mute it. Cheese is a good way to "hide" vegetables. Of course, you don't want to go overboard on cheese because you don't want to increase your fat intake. However, if you are going to have pizza anyways, why not mix up some greens in it?
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Old 22 August 2013, 06:06 PM
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If you're trying to reduce your fat (oil/butter) intake, Olio spray is a very good friend. I find that if I steam my vegetables lightly first (Brussels sprouts, carrots, green beans, peppers, broccoli) and cut them very small (well, the sprouts just in half), then I can roast or blacken them in a pan. I hate big hunks of cooked vegetable, but if I cut them to about 1/2-1 cm squares, I like them just fine. Especially tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, olives (sparingly), cucumbers on a baked potato. And don't forget soups. If you like a creamed soup, start with fat free evaporated milk instead of cream or whole milk.
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Old 22 August 2013, 06:34 PM
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So many good ideas here! I'll have to try some of them; I've been trying to eat better lately, too.

One of my favorite I-can't-believe-it's-healthy recipes is kale chips. Tear up some kale into bite-sized pieces. Spray a baking sheet with oil--or don't. Covering the baking sheet with foil serves the non-stick function and also makes this from an extremely low-fat food to a completely non-fat food. Put the kale on the baking sheet and sprinkle with apple cider vinegar and sea salt and bake in the oven until crispy.
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Old 22 August 2013, 06:40 PM
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Don't forget popcorn. If it doesn't have the oil and/or butter on it, it is an excellent high-fibre low-cal whole grain food. Seasonings like garlic, onion powder, grated parmesan or romano , etc. can perk it up too.
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Old 22 August 2013, 06:53 PM
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Corn is as much a vegetable as potato. Although it's not nutrient-less, for the purposes of having a balanced diet, corn should be counted as a serving of starch, not vegetable.
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Old 22 August 2013, 06:56 PM
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Do you eat rice? Mixing a portion of peas / sweetcorn / mixed veggies out the freezer in at the end of the cooking time is an easy way to add another veggies into a meal.

Can work with smaller types of pasta too.
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Old 22 August 2013, 07:35 PM
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Omelets and frittatas are another way to incorporate veggies into a meal. I also like to quick sauté or boil a veggie while some protein cooks on the grill, and make a curry, reduction, or cheese sauce to pour over both.

Also, as Gayle said, soups are great, especially once autumn hits. Corn chowder, broccoli cheddar, red lentil tomato (similar to sauce taste). You can sneak cauliflower into the first two.
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