I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was once the type of person who screamed “veggies are boring” from the rooftops. Fruit? Fun and fresh, always. But unless the vegetable was smothered in peanut butter, hummus, or ranch dressing, I was completely uninterested. That is until I learned some quick tricks that changed everything.
As a dietitian, McKel Kooienga, MS, RD, LDN, founder of Nutrition Stripped, hears that phrase all too often, and she’s quick to inform people that if vegetables are boring you, you’re simply not doing it right.
“I hear people say the reason they don’t eat or enjoy vegetables is that they’re boring or taste bland. My answer to that is they probably haven’t cooked them or seasoned them well enough,” she writes on Instagram. “Vegetables are full of flavor and add a fantastic texture depending on the cooking and preparation method. In addition to how you cook the vegetables and how you prepare them is how you season vegetables. I promise vegetables can be delicious and a part of every meal you can start getting excited about.”
Through some simple techniques even beginner chefs can utilize like a pro, you can instantly turn something you despise into something you crave. Take it from me: Broccoli was on my no-way-in-hell list, and now I eat it multiple times a week. Miracles do happen. The next time you’re preparing a healthy dish, these are the only steps you need to follow for a mouth-watering result.
1. Choose a texture, any texture
Instead of using your veggies any old way, Kooienga recommends adding a texture that fits with the dish you’re creating. You can grate, slice, chop—whatever you want. Taking the extra time to find out what works best makes a big difference in the how much you enjoy eating it.
2. Season, season, season
If you don’t season you’re vegetables, you’re probably not going to want to eat them. “Something as simple as seasoning with sea salt, black pepper, fresh garlic, lemon, and fresh or dried herbs can make the world of difference from a plain ole’ salad and one that is bursting with flavor,” writes Kooienga. You can also add a healthy sauce, which instantly makes anything taste better.
3. Become a master of disguise
If you’re not into having veggies be the star of the show, sneak them into dishes you already love. To get you started, the USDA has some solid pointers: shredded carrots and zucchini work great in casseroles, chopped veggies add great texture to pastas and sauces, and puréed veggies are perfect in soups.
4. Play chef and cook
There are multiple ways to cook vegetables, and each method can make the same veggie taste completely different. If you’re only steaming your veggies, switch things up with techniques that not only up the flavor, but also make them more satiating. Give ’em a little crunch! And the best two ways to do so? Roast vegetables in the oven or pop them in the air fryer. You can even grill them. It totally changes the game.