“I want to make fitness simple and attainable for busy women”

-Allison Lambert

The Fit Tutor

10 Tips for Eating Vegetables if You’re a Picky Eater

Everyone tells you to eat your veggies, and you’ve of course been hounded with all of their benefits. Every time you start a new diet hopeful, you have to quit because you can’t handle the food. Or maybe you endlessly put new vegetables in front of your picky family only to have them be your leftovers the next day. You want to quit trying, but you haven’t given up quite yet (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article). I’ve compiled tips and tricks to help you eat more veggies and learn to like them, and I hope they help. If like is too strong of a word, let’s shoot for “tolerate,” shall we?

(I also believe this could easily be titled “How to get your kids to eat more veggies” – so feel free to practice this on your spawn, too!)

Quick Run-down: Why You Should Eat Veggies

check out these 10 ways to like vegetables for picky eaters!

I know I just said you’re probably tired of being hounded by how beneficial it is to eat these little nuggets of nutrients, but let’s go over it once more, just in case!

Benefits

In no particular order, since who can choose a favorite out of this list?!

  • Alkaline
    • Protein and grains increase acid in your body, which can break down muscle and bone. Eating veggies increases the alkaline load in your body, helping you to build muscle and bone!
  • Nutrients
  • Cancer-fighting
    • a diet high in fruits and veggies has been linked with decrease in cancer risk and helping to fight it!
  • Fiber
    • fiber is good for a ton of reasons, one being it helps you feel full and lose weight.
  • Fill you up/low in calories
    • Their fiber content is part of this, plus vegetables help you feel full without tons of calories! Let’s celebrate this fact with these good choices!
  • Antioxidants
    • antioxidants are the superheroes that disarm the free radical villains that are set out to damage your cells, make you age faster, and perhaps even cause cancer. More antioxidants, please!
  • Promote weight loss and healthy blood profiles
    • diets with high veggie intake have been shown to improve blood cholesterol and glucose levels, as well as lower blood pressure. They are also connected to weight loss, which promotes all of these good things as well!
  • Phytonutrients
    • these have anti-inflammatory effects, contain our superhero friends the antioxidants, help repair damage cells, and boost immunity.

Even if you don’t like vegetables, you’ll still want to work them into your diet because you don’t want to miss out on the awesome benefits, even if for no other reason than to help you lose weight. That being said, you don’t want to be miserable or gagging them down at every meal.

Here are some ideas to help you incorporate more veggies into your diet and hopefully help you find some that you, dare I say, enjoy!

10 Ways to Learn to Like Vegetables for Picky Eaters

Start with What You Like (or Find Your “Gateway” Veggie)Wondering how to eat healthily if you don't like vegetables? Try these 10 tips to eat vegetables for picky eaters! Yes, they include pizza.

If you have at least one veggie that you like (preferably not deep fried, OK?) then start there. Steve from Nerd Fitness calls this your “gateway” vegetable, and I love that name. Find yours, and eat it more often, prepare it different ways so you don’t get bored. Add it into more meals to help you increase your overall veggie intake.

If you don’t have even one veggie you can tolerate, go on an all out search. Consider it an adventure in health. Try at least one new vegetable a week. This will help you not to waste a lot of food each week or feel discouraged about your grocery bill.

Do a little research on how people like to eat your new veggie of choice, and even try it at a restaurant if you have to. You can learn how they made it and make it a little healthier at home.

Repeat until you find one you can tolerate.

Then eat that one more often.

Repeat.

Hide Them in Other Foods

Most of you are probably swearing to me that you can always tell! I only will believe a small percentage of you. I work with a lot of wives who have picky husbands or kids. They work to become top secret agents of sneaking in veggies, and they are constantly reporting back stories of how their spouse or kids didn’t even notice! Maybe having someone else make it for you (if that’s an option) can help, or give your roommate or significant other permission to experiment with this.

Here are some tried and true options

  • Smoothes
  • Sauces
  • Omelettes
    • spinach/kale, tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc)
    • Scrambies, frittatas, egg muffins, quiche, hash, etc work too!
    • OK so this isn’t necessarily “hiding” but you can hide the taste with the flavor of the eggs, or cover them with cheese!
  • Soups
    • purée them in, add in veggies in so they are eaten with something you like, or cook them to taste just like the broth or seasoning
    • Chilis are a great option
    • Here are some of my go-to’s
  • Meatloaf
    • a great time to purée some zucchini, carrots, spinach, etc to add to the meat before you form them into the meatloaf or even meatballs – or add to the sauce!
    • Meatloaf recipe (and I love meatloaf muffin, too!)
  • Curries or Mexican foods
    • a great way to sneak in veggies and have them taste like the seasoning
    • Add to curries, tacos, or even pizza toppings -or even shoot for a cauliflower or zucchini pizza crust
    • Could puree them into the curry or enchilada sauce, for example to really hide them
  • Casseroles
    • most popular casseroles have veggies, but they usually taste like the sauce or flavoring and you can always take a bite of them with the meat to cover up the taste
    • another great time to purée them into the sauce for even the pickiest eater
  • Fritters
  • Mix and Match
    • Mix in an unpopular veggie with one you or your pickiest eater enjoys
      • Ex: mix in cauliflower with mashed potatoes to get the health benefits and lower-carb qualities of cauliflower

More “Hidden Veggie” Recipes

Try Sweeter Veggies

Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, rutabagas, and peas, for example
These can be good “gateway” veggies like we mentioned earlier, or would be good options for kids or picky eaters. Many people can get on board with something sweet.

Have an Open Mind

I know you may be skeptical reading this, but if you enter into every new vegetable with the mindset that you will hate it or it will make you gag, then you’re going to be right. Expect that you will find a handful of options you can at least tolerate!

Pair a Vegetable with Something You Like to Eat

I mentioned this a little already, but if you always pair the bite with the vegetable with something delicious, like the beef in chili, a tasty dip, whatever meat is in your dish, a strong spice or flavor, etc then it will help to mask the flavor or bitterness of the vegetable.

Remember those benefits. You can do this!

check out these 10 ways to like vegetables for picky eaters!

Make Vegetables as Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Foods

Here are some options to try!

  • Pasta
    • using a spiralizer, make things like zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage, etc into noodles. Not ready to commit? Go half regular pasta- half healthier pasta and cover with your favorite sauces
      • Grocery stores are now selling veggie noodles in their produce section if you don’t want to make your own!
  • Chips
    • using a knife or mandolin slicer, you can easily make veggies into “chips.” Popular ones include zucchini, sweet potato, beets, kale, carrots, etc. Spray with olive oil, season, and bake until crispy.
  • Fries
    • Same premise as the chips, but use a sharp knife to cut the veggies into fries or wedges. Bake instead of fry. Dip into sriracha or another dip to help mask the flavor if needed.
    • Tots: similar to fries, but bake instead of fry, and try broccoli or cauliflower, or stick with the regular ol’ potato but without the deep frying!
  • Pizza
    • cauliflower pizza crust and garlic bread and zucchini pizza crust recipes are all the rage right now, and you can find some that mix with regular flour, so indeed these are snuck in and not the main component! I’m sure you can find more veggies to do this with.
      • warning: cauliflower is stinky. Buy frozen or pre-riced to save your nose.
    • Purée veggies into pizza sauce
    • Add veggies as toppings
    • Put pizza toppings, seasonings, sauce, and cheese over zucchini boats, spaghetti squash bowls, or even over lentils or quinoa!
  • Dessert and baked goods
    •  I would only recommend doing this with a “healthified,” low-sugar version that uses only healthy ingredients. I wouldn’t suggest making this the only way you get your veggies in! But, muffin recipes where you sneak in vegetables are common, as are brownies made with beets, black beans, zucchini etc.
      • I’ve never tried any desserts, but I’ve made some muffins with veggies. You’ll find a variety on this Pinterest Board!

Try Them Prepared and Cooked Various Ways

Many of you suffered through canned, frozen, or veggies that were boiled to death as children. Although some people like them that way, if texture or taste has been an issue, preparing them differently (preferably fresh!) can make a big difference.

Try veggies various ways before you give up hope.

Here are some different ways to cook them

  • Steamed
  • Grilled
  • Sautèed/stir fried
  • Baked
  • Broiled
  • Raw (with dip or seasoning, too)
    *if bitterness is the main issue, cooking thoroughly can help eliminate some of that flavoring

Here are different ways to mask or improve their flavor

  • Try new seasoning and try “cushioning” them with something sweet or fat.
  • Try new spices, no veggie should ever be “boring or bland”
  • Compliment with sour flavors: pickled or fermented vegetables, wine, lemon or lime, various types of vinegars
  • Salty is a good option, but beware of sodium if you have high blood pressure; coconut aminos and asian flavoring can be salty (or hot, or sweet, etc)
  • Pair with something fatty, like butter, olive or avocado oil, sesame oil, bacon, cheese, nuts
  • Pair with something sweet, like honey, fruit, etc

Check Out the Farmer’s Market

So, if you hate veggies, this might seem like telling someone who hates clowns to go to the circus… but hear me out!

These veggies should be the freshest around and filled with the most nutrients! If you’re going to have to choke down a veggie, it may as well be chock full of nutrients, right?

Many “conventional” veggies are grown to look a certain way. Have you ever had a perfect-looking tomato only to have it taste like styrofoam?! At the Farmer’s market, you’ll see different varieties of veggies not usually found in the grocery store, and you’ll also find new types veggies not usually carried at most stores! More variety to find something you like, plus fresher, cheaper, and hopefully tastier.

check out these 10 ways to like vegetables for picky eaters!

Ask Around!

Chances are, you’re not the only one in your circle or even your Facebook friends who doesn’t like veggies. Let people know your issue (besides “they’re gross”) and let the suggestions come rolling in. If you don’t like the texture of certain veggies, I bet someone else out there has the same problem. Ask them what they do like, and maybe you will, too. Ask for favorite recipes, best seasoning or pairing, best way to make them.

For example, I hate brussels sprouts every way but sauteed. Had I not tried them that way, I wouldn’t have known how much I love them! Ask people for their input to have some direction to your next “adventure.”

Be an Iron Chef

This last one is probably mostly geared towards kiddos or someone not doing the cooking, but I think it can pretty versatile!

Go to the store and have the picky eater pick out a veggie they want to try. Go home, and cook it up for dinner, Iron Chef style! They most likely will be more excited because it’s “their” vegetable and they have ownership in the process.

Kiddos

Although this post isn’t written specifically about kids, I think most of these can apply to your picky children, too. Some other tips for kids would be to allow them to veto or say no, so dinner doesn’t become a war zone every night. They may need to watch you eat broccoli 20x before they even try it.

If you need to sneak veggies into everything or make them smoothies once a day or buy veggie-infused products, then by all means, go for it. Being a parent is tough, and having an impossibly picky eater makes it exponentially tougher. Do you what you can and work with them to try new things, but it’s OK to lay down this battle every now and then. Oh, and this Greens Powder tastes like a Flinstone’s Push-Pop. Remember those?

Time to Go For the Gold

OK, I’ll settle for giving you a participation trophy. Trying is #1 for now!

The good news is that you or your loved one is probably picky because of your super taste buds or your genes. You can boast that you hate vegetables because your ancestors were so good at detecting poison, and it’s been well-preserved in your family line. Whatever you want to say or think about it, you’re going to have to eat some veggies to help you get healthier.

I hope you can at least use a handful of these tips so eating veggies isn’t hard work! I know the benefits will outweigh the costs on this! Keep going!

And…. if none of this helps, and you’re an adult, sometimes you gotta just do the adult thing and force down a salad or two in the name of health! You’re worth it!

Helpful Resources Along the Way

Want to know more about eating healthier for improving body composition, blood profiles, and just for health’s sake? Check out The Fit Tutor’s Nutrition Course!

And in the meantime, as you search for your gateway veggie and ask for a miracle to happen to your tastebuds, working out has been shown to improve health and body composition as well. You don’t have to find the perfect seasoning for your workout, you just need a pair of dumbbells and a few feet in your home!

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Wondering how to eat healthily if you don't like vegetables? Try these 10 tips to eat vegetables for picky eaters! Yes, they include pizza.

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2 Responses to “10 Tips for Eating Vegetables if You’re a Picky Eater”
  1. I am a Nutritional Therapist and this is the best article I’ve ever seen on the subject of encouraging picky eaters to include more vegetables in their diet, which is a constant challenge in my line of work. So many great ideas here! Thank you so much for posting!

    Reply
    • Allison Lambert
      Allison Lambert

      Kathy thank you so much for taking the time to leave such an encouraging comment! I’m so glad you found this helpful. Thanks for all you do as a Nutritional Therapist! :)

      Reply
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