While as a girl living on her own, I ate a ton of salads for meals because they were easy and didn’t require cooking skills (which I didn’t have) but I slathered those salads with globs of fattening salad dressing. I loved trying new dressings and what I usually wanted was the creamy kind. But other than those calorie-laden salads I ate, I didn’t get vegetables in my diet much.
This changed when it came time to lose 100 pounds. What I quickly discovered was that fruit and vegetables were LOW IN CALORIES. As a calorie counter who was coming right down to each single calorie ingested, those numbers mattered to me. I had to be smart about my food and rationed out each meal the best I could. Eating fruits and vegetables helped me feel like I was getting enough food while I transitioned to eating 2,000 calories a day from 5,000+!
I hear from a lot of people who talk about how hard it is for them to get their vegetables in each day. My palate and my diet has changed so much that it’s just the norm for me. If I don’t have vegetables on my dinner plate, it feels naked and missing something. Often times dinner in my house is a protein + a vegetable + a salad.
How I Learned to Love My Veggies
1) I recognized the inherent values of vegetables.
They were FILLING because they were high in fiber and they were low in calories because they were usually packed with a high water content. Here is a small example of some calorie contents:
- kale – 100 calories (3 cups cooked)
- cauliflower – 98 calories (30 pieces)
- brussel sprouts – 106 calories (14 small heads)
- green beans – 98 calories (2 cups cooked)
- broccoli – 35 calories (1 cup)
- carrots – 52 calories (1 cup)
That looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Pile your dinner plate with a bunch of veggies and you’ll soon find that your portion control is easier. I get full eating my veggies.
2) I learned how to cook and prepare them.
If you’re new to the healthy eating thing and are trying to eat more vegetables, don’t try to eat them plain. Who wants to eat veggies plain? I am a huge fan of adding some flavor and sauce to some veggies to jazz them up. The trick is to do so in moderation, not drowning the veggies in dressing. Your palate takes time to change.
Here are just a few ways to prepare your vegetables and actually like them:
- Steamed. I’m a huge fan of steamed veggies. It’s so easy! Even a non-cook like me could do it. (Except for that one time….)
- Salads. The trick is to use the dressing sparingly. Measure out that serving size to be sure. Or switch to something simple like olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh pepper. A staple in our house is spinach salads. It goes with every type of dinner and you can add lots of things to it to make it more palatable–try some crumbled feta or goat cheese, sliced strawberries, slivered almonds.
- Mix-Ins. Try adding frozen peas or fresh broccoli florets to casseroles like mac n’ cheese. I recently started adding chopped onions and carrots to my rice cooker and loved having the cooked veggies already in the rice!
- Sauteed. A few years ago we discovered the deliciousness of Grapeseed Oil. It tastes so much better on veggies than olive oil. There is a distinct flavor that adds some richness to it. Season with a little salt and pepper and that’s all you need.
- Dips. Try eating hummus with raw veggies as a snack. This is one of my favorite snacks because the vegetables are basically a zero–less than 50 calories and the hummus is 100 so it’s not going to break the calorie bank.
- Grilled. Grilling vegetables on the BBQ along with turkey burgers or salmon is a delicious side dish to any meal.
- Roasted. I’m still trying to master this.
If you have any other tips on ways to prepare vegetables, let me know!
3) Grow my own.
Having my first successful vegetable garden last summer did wonders for me. I LOVED growing my own. Sure, it was a lot of work, took a ton of time, but it was so gratifying to see the plants bud, blossom and produce food I could eat.
I also ate things I didn’t normally eat simply because I’d forget to buy it at the store. But having soooo much zucchini in my garden I had to get creative with recipes and find new and tasty ways to consume it. And I’m not kidding when I say the food I grew tasted a million times better than a grocery store’s.
QUESTION: How did you learn to love veggies, or are you trying to learn to love them?