Sunday, July 1, 2012

What Works For Me: Learning to Love My Veggies

Ok, so here's the thing.

As I've mentioned before, I have to change my eating habits for health reasons - mainly working on cutting out the unhealthy carbs, which are basically all the white (and DELICIOUS) ones. Ideally, I'm aiming to eat as few carbs as possible at dinner (so I'm eating the healthy carbs during the day, when I'm more likely to burn off energy), which means I need to sub those carb-y side dishes that I'm used to with vegetables.

The "problem" (because, let's be honest, if it ain't famine, homelessness, or warfare, it ain't really a problem) is that The Hubs and I are semi-finicky eaters and only like certain veggies. Actually, I am semi-finicky while The Hubs is FINICKY. I have reliable veggies that I like - salad greens and spinach, cucumbers, celery, carrots (raw only), broccoli, green beans,artichokes, cauliflower, and asparagus... that's about it. Some of those veggies The Hubs will eat, and even then he'll only eat them certain ways (like the carrots have to be cooked, and he only likes asparagus if it's roasted). I'll try veggies that I didn't like previously to see if my tastes have changed (because sometimes they have), but it's rare that they change, and The Hubs is even more resistant to changes. For the most part, though, I either steam them or eat a salad. I esp. enjoy lunch salads (I'm so trying the mason jar salads when work starts back up... Mmmm!)

That said, if we're going to eat veggies as our main side at dinner, I'd like to find some decent variations on them. Here's some methods I've tried so far, and recipes I've found that I'm planning to try!

  • Pureed - Works like a charm so far, but I've only tried it in stuff that's sauce-based. But, I mean, seriously, in the veggie meat sauce I made, the veggies are all so minute that I can eat vegetables in which I hate their texture - like peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes! I'm trying this trick next with a Jambalaya recipe that is otherwise delicious-looking except for the peppers and tomatoes that are only chopped - they will be pureed to be easier to "choke down" for Mr. and Mrs. Finicky.
    See? You can't even SEE all those veggies - and it is LOADED with them!
  • Roasted - So far I've only tried this with veggies I already like, with one exception - my friends the P's had us over a few years ago for Xmas Eve dinner, and they made roasted brussel sprouts. I hesitated at first, because I'm not a huge cabbage fan, and the only way my folks made them was boiled (and they smelled AWFUL). But I tried them, and they were DELICIOUS. Of course, I haven't had them since, but I have a recipe "pinned" on Pinterest to try. Basically, I want them as crispy as possible. My favorite roasted veggie so far has been roasting broccoli - it tastes like broccoli tempura without all that pesky battering process. YUM. 
  • Grated - if I can get away with grating a version of an "icky" veggie, I will. I tried a recipe for a Thai peanut-style chicken  in the slow-cooker, which was not that great. BUT it called for grated zucchini as part of the recipe, and I'll be darned, you can't taste it. I've also made zucchini pancakes, which was also highly enjoyable. 
Recipes I'm excited to try:
  • Green Monster Spinach Smoothie - it's supposed to taste like a delicious smoothie, and I'm willing to give it a shot because I like spinach raw AND cooked, so I figure with it's mild taste I won't notice it and the texture isn't a problem in the first place. Plus I get a load of vitamins, protein, and fiber in one drink? Um, SOLD. I'll report on how it tastes! If it tastes good and whirs up fast, I'm thinking it'll be a great easy breakfast when I start teaching!
    It borders on disturbingly green, though.
  • Crustless Spinach and feta pie - Hmmm, spinach and cheese. Gee, sounds like a tough choice. I'm thinking this will be great next to some grilled chicken. Mmm. 
  • Vegetable "pasta" - I want to try this because I had a delightful meal at a really nice restaurant in NYC years ago (which I can't remember the name of, except that it was really long and old-sounding and I think it was in the East Village) that was basically the same type of veggie "pasta" with this great tomato sauce, shrimp, and parmesan cheese. I was skeptical that I'd like the veggies, but with the sauce they were great! I figure it's worth another shot. 
  • Zucchini tots - I like this as an alternative to zucchini pancakes, which have a lot of breading. This seems like it'd get more zucchini, less carbs. What a fun side dish to go with burgers - hopefully it'll help me cut off the potatoes. 
  • Mashed cauliflower "potatoes" - I haven't tried these before, but my friends who have say it's worth the effort. I love cauliflower, so I can't really seeing going wrong. Cheesy cauliflower pancakes are worth a shot as well. 
I'm actually excited to try all these new veggie recipes - esp. the smoothie and the "tots"! As you can see, I've got some options to make me eat more veggies, but I'm open to ideas! Please share your favorite ways to prepare veggies, I'm begging you. The simpler the better, 'cuz I'm a lazy cook. ;D

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