I used to feel the need to douse all my vegetables with condiments in order to make them taste good. You name the vegetable, I applied either ketchup or mustard to them. Okay, sometimes I still do that, but not because I hate the taste of vegetables like I used to. The idea of eating broccoli as a child was about the worst thing I could think of when it came to meal time. But as I got older and learned to start cooking my own meals healthfully, I found all kinds of simple ways to cook vegetables that actually tasted good. It’s not hard to make corn on the cob or white potatoes taste great, but the lower starch and a bit healthier veggies can sometimes need a bit of help.
If you’re in the same boat, or are just looking for some new ways to make your veggies a little more tasty, while still being good for you and simple to prepare, then start with these 5 veggies below. They’re some of the healthiest vegetables out there, and luckily, are now 5 of my favorites too.
Broccoli is actually really tasty all on its own, but if you cook it, you need to be sure it doesn’t end up soggy and mushy. Who wants to eat that? And if you’re not a fan of raw veggies or don’t tolerate them, just noshing on broccoli raw isn’t an option either. The easiest way to make broccoli taste great is to lightly steam the florets for just 3-4 minutes without a lid in a pot with just enough water to cover half the broccoli. Once it cooks for about 4 minutes, turn off the heat source, add a tiny pinch of pink sea salt, leave the pot on the stove, and put the lid on so it can steam up. Remove after just 1 minute and your broccoli is cooked thoroughly, has a nice soft texture but is not soggy, wilted, or mushy. The tiny touch of salt at the very end helps bring out the natural sweetness (yes really!) that broccoli has.
Try these broccoli dishes for more ideas: Garlic Broccoli With CocoPeanut Sauce, Broccoli Salad With Quinoa, Scallions and Roasted Cashews, and Indian Chinese Manchurian Stir-Fry.
My favorite way to make cabbage taste better is to ferment it into sauerkraut, which requires no cooking at all. It’s actually the only way I enjoy cabbage (or tolerate it). It’s slightly tangy, has a zesty flavor to it and can be eaten alone, over salads, or over any other cooked entrees. It’s also high in probiotics and necessary B vitamins. You can buy sauerkraut at the store, but it’s much cheaper to make your own and also very simple. All you do is wash a head of cabbage, remove the outer leaves (about 4-5 leaves), and cut the head of cabbage into four quarters. Then put each quarter one at a time in your food processor and shred into slaw-like shreds. Empty those into a bowl and repeat until the remaining cabbage is shredded. Then grab some mason jars or other canning jars and pack each one full with the cabbage, leaving just about 2 inches of room at the top of the jars to leave enough room for expansion that will occur as the cabbage ferments into kraut. Blend 1 quart of water with 2-4 tbsp. pink salt (or another high-quality salt), and pour the salt water over the jars enough to cover the cabbage. Now it’s time to use those leaves that you peeled off the top of the cabbage. Roll each one up and stuff it in the top of each jar over the shredded cabbage and water. This will help keep it nice and tight so there’s no excess air which can prevent fermentation. Seal the lid for each jar nice and tight. Once you’ve filled and stuffed all your jars, wrap each one in a towel, place them in a cooler or even a portable lunchbox, and put them in a pantry away from heat and light. This will incubate them. They’ll be ready to eat in about a week. Once you see bubbles in the jar and it smells like kraut (sour and zesty), you’re good to go!
For more tips on fermenting veggies, see: How to Can Plant-Based Foods and How to Make Kimchi at Home. If you’re not into fermented veggies and want to learn to cook cabbage a few different ways, see 10 Global Ways to Cook With Cabbage and 10 Ways to Give Cabbage a Try and Cook With It Tonight.
Cooking with artichokes is the healthiest way to enjoy them, but few people have patience or time for that due to their outer leaves and the delicacy of these healthy veggies. But they are incredibly good for us and we should be eating them more than most of us do. Artichokes are great for the liver, promote digestive health, are very low in starch which makes them easier to digest, and also very low in calories but also filling. My favorite way to eat them is just to buy artichoke hearts at the store, which can be fought in cans or jars. Choose those with only salt and water added – no oil. (Whole Foods generic 365 brand is naturally free of BPA if you’re concerned about that.) You can just open the cans or jars up, give the artichoke hearts a good rinse in a colander to remove the salt, and shred them into just about anything or use them whole. They’re a little zesty and slightly sweet kind of like pickles. I enjoy them shredded into salads, in meat-free soups where I want something meaty in texture and with a special flavor, or I mash them up into a dip like homemade hummus, or salsa. If you want to cook with them, saute them in a pan with some other vegetables of your choice or even pan-roast them for a more caramelized flavor. Though fresh foods are always best, artichoke hearts are one of the best options you can buy when it comes to foods found on the aisles. Don’t forget about them!
Asparagus is luckily one of the easiest to embrace veggies out there, likely because it’s one of the best to grill. However, aside from grilling, asparagus is also great sauteed or even chopped and baked into healthy entrees or just tossed over salads. I don’t typically enjoy it raw, but some people love it as an easy snack to use in dips or for a crunchy replacement to carrot sticks. However you enjoy asparagus, be sure you cut off at least 3/4- 1 inch off the bottom of each stalk where it’s whiter in color. Though it’s technically edible, this part of asparagus isn’t very tasty and is very hard to chew. You can toss those or compost them. You can also buy frozen asparagus spears (my favorite economical way to enjoy them) and use them in entrees, salads, grill them, or even use them in smoothies – yes really! Asparagus is slightly sweet, full of good fibers for your digestive system and even boosts the libido while also beating bloat and constipation. Spring is the best time to embrace this healthy veggie however you can.
Gloria Cabala Lemon/Flickr
It takes a special person to love the taste of beets just any old way. I love healthy food, but honestly, beets have to be prepared certain ways for me to actually say I enjoy them. If you don’t tolerate them raw (the best option), you can either juice with them, or just pan-roast them to eat them cooked, which is what I like to do. When chopped, seasoned with some black pepper, oregano and thyme, then roasted on a pan for 45 minutes, beets taste like a smoky, sweet caramelized treat, much like roasted sweet potatoes do. You can also bake beets whole, cut them open and season them that way. Your choice. You can eat them as a side dish, toss them over a salad or into another entree, or enjoy them in place of potatoes for a change of pace. However you enjoy them, work them into your meals when you can because beets’ beautiful pink color isn’t all they’ve got going for them; they’re full of good fibers, antioxidants that detoxify the liver, properties that aid in red blood cell production, and can even boost your workout thanks to their ability to improve oxygen flow in the body.
Hopefully you’ll be inspired to give these healthy veggies a new shot if you’re tired of the way you’re eating them now or not eating them at all. Never quit eating a certain vegetable because you’re tired of the way it tastes or disregard it completely, just scout out some new ways to enjoy it and give it some new life!
Lead Image Source: Healthy Vegan Artichoke Dip