7 Ways to Make Your Veggies Taste SO Much Better

posted: 06/17/15
by: Mara Betsch
chopping herbs

When faced with a plate of crispy, hot fries, it's nearly impossible to choose a salad instead. And we don't blame you. But there's a lot of research that shows eating your veggies will help you live longer, prevent disease and slim down. One study found that people eating vegetarian diets lost 7 pounds in a month, even if they admitted to cheating! In order to encourage you to up your veggie intake, we're spilling the very best ways to prep your favorite greens, gourds and more -- and they don't involve drowning your veggies in butter and cheese.

1. Buy seasonally

This may seem like a big "duh!" but eating food in the season that it is harvested means you're getting the ripest, most flavorful produce. Beefsteak tomatoes are juiciest and fresh corn is sweetest the summer months while butternut squash and kale are tastiest in late fall/early winter. Buying local, seasonal produce is your first step in learning to love vegetables.

2. Turn up the heat

I hated Brussels sprouts for the first 22 years of my life -- my grandma boiled them for us and I didn't touch them for two decades! It was only when a friend roasted them that I discovered how delicious they were. Roasting veggies really brings out their natural sugars, which caramelize with heat. So preheat the oven to 425 degrees, cut your vegetables into slices or chunks, toss with a little olive oil (1 or 2 tbsp), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast them for up to 45 minutes. Start with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and carrots, which only get better with heat.

3. Arm yourself with citrus

Spritzing your favorite veggies with lemon or limes "brightens" a dish, as chefs would say. What that means is that this flavor can mask the bitterness of certain veggies and make them more appealing. You can also add lemon or lime zest, which adds an even bolder flavor. If you don't have any citrus fruits on hand, try a splash of white wine vinegar.

4. ..And Parmesan

A little Parmesan cheese goes a long way with cooking. One tablespoon has only 21 calories and 1 gram of fat, and its salty, earthy flavor can perk up even the blandest of veggies.

5. Get your herbs on

Another easy way to add low-cal flavor to your veggies is to add chopped fresh herbs. Consider adding a bit of basil to your tomato salad, a bit of cilantro to your sauteed peppers, or a few sprigs of rosemary to roasted sweet potatoes.

6. Turn them into fritters

As a sometimes-vegetarian, I've sliced and diced my vegetables in about every way imaginable, and fritters are a great way to turn a so-so veggie into a delicious treat. Just finely chop your favorite vegetable (or, if you have a food processor, just throw your veggies in and pulse a few times); add some onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and seasonings; stir in an egg, a 1/2 cup flour and a 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and form the mixture into patties. Heat up a bit of olive oil in the pan, add four fritters to the pan, sear each side of the fritters for a 3-4 minutes, and stick them in oven to bake while you finish the batch. For inspiration, try this zucchini fritter recipe of this cauliflower fritter recipe.

7. Or puree them

You probably wouldn't turn down a delicious serving of mashed potatoes, but what about mashed butternut squash? Root vegetables make amazing mashes -- all you need to do is roast them until tender, and use a bit of milk or broth to mash them, either by hand or with an immersion blender. Try this delicious recipe, which uses only a tiny bit of butter to make a light side dish.