Admit it – we all have foods that we think we hate even though we may never even tasted them. Or maybe we tried them once or twice but it wasn’t a good experience. Some foods look strange, smell weird, or have odd textures that turn us off. Sadly, some foods have bad reputations that color our judgment before we even get close to them. Aren’t we taught from childhood that we are supposed to hate Brussels sprouts and try to hide them under our napkins or pass them under the table to the dog who doesn’t want them either? There used to be a lot of foods I swore I hated when I had never really tried them. When I became vegan, I started trying a lot of new foods and to my surprise, I found I was wrong about so many of the ones I had rejected. Now I have a personal rule that before I can say I hate a food, I have to try it several times cooked in different ways. Even my husband now loves a bunch of foods he swore he hated. Here are seven foods that are commonly misjudged and if you think you hate them, I’ve got the recipes to change your mind. All you need is an open mind and an empty stomach!
When I was a kid, my mother would open a can of baby beets and serve them cold. I used to love trying to harpoon those little red balls which would often fly across the table, spreading red beet juice in its tracks. But that’s the only way I would eat beets. It wasn’t until I was an adult, that I bought fresh beets with roots and leaves hanging off them and cooked them myself. They tasted so fresh and delicious with real beet flavor rather than the canned taste. My husband swore he hated beets too until I made him my Roasted Beet Burgers and my Borscht soup. It’s easy to make: Boil 6 red beets that have been peeled and chopped in 3 cups of salted water for 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Strain the beets and reserve the liquid. Let the beets cool and then cut them into chunks. In the same pot, heat 1 Tbs. oil and saute 1 minced red onion, 1 finely diced stalk of celery, 1 finely diced carrot and 1 minced garlic clove until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the beet cooking liquid, 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth and 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Add 1 Tbs. fresh dill and kosher salt and black pepper to taste. For a smooth soup, strain the veggies out or keep them in for a chunkier soup. Serve hot or cold with a dollop of vegan sour cream. Use the beet greens to make a salad to go on the side of your borscht.
Other beet recipes that will change your mind include Grilled Beet Salad with Almonds and Dried Cranberries, Sesame Roasted Beets and Greens, Carrot Beet Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Pine Nut and Pistachio Pesto, Fudgy Beetroot Chocolate Cake with Pink Frosting, and Chocolate Beet Cupcakes. For even more ideas, see 10 Ways to Cook with Beets.
2. Brussels Sprouts
I feel so bad for Brussels sprouts because they get such a bad rap. These little tiny cabbages are so cute and so delicious, especially baby sprouts. It’s not their fault that so many people cook them wrong and they end up gray, mushy and smelly. Get my cooking tips for Brussels in 5 Ways to Get Anyone to Love Brussels Sprouts and then give them a fair chance by using a great recipe. The best ways to cook them is roasting and sautéing (don’t even think about boiling them). Try these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Glaze, Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Sherry-Maple Vinaigrette, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Chestnuts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Rosemary Soup, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lime and Chili, Sesame Brussels Sprout Curry, Crispy Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Brussels Sprouts and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Artichoke Hearts and Sundried Tomatoes.
Eggplant is another food people either love or hate. If they hate it, it’s probably because it was mushy and/or bitter when they tried it. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be either of these things if cooked properly. I make eggplant dishes all the time from my Eggplant Bisque to my Indian-Spiced Eggplant Slices to my Vegan Mozzarella-Stuffed Eggplant Meatballs and Eggplant Fries. Oh, and let’s not forget the incredible Eggplant Crunchburger! If those recipes don’t change your mind, try this Spicy Eggplant Caponata, Vegan Eggplant Noodles, and these Roasted Eggplant Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions. See 10 Ways to Cook with Eggplant and 10 Ways to Cook Eggplant with Global Flavors for even more recipes.
It may not be that people really dislike the taste of artichokes so much as they look intimidating and very strange. It’s easier to cook artichokes than you might think and you can readily buy already-prepped artichoke hearts to make it even easier. Check out 10 Tips for Cooking with Artichokes and then try my Overstuffed Artichokes: trim 2 large artichokes. First cut the stem so that the artichoke can sit upright. Then, starting at the base, bend the tough outer leaves back until they break off. With kitchen scissors, trim the tops of the remaining leaves. Fill a pot half-way with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the artichokes and some lemon peel. Cover and simmer until the bottoms of the artichokes are fork-tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add 4 crushed garlic cloves and cook until the garlic is golden brown and crispy. Do not let it burn. Remove the garlic from the oil. Add 1 cup bread crumbs and toast until browned and crispy, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in 3 Tbs. grated parmesan or nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and ½ cup fresh chopped parsley. Let cool. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With a small spoon, fill the leaves with the bread crumb mixture. Be generous and let it overflow. When you have filled all the leaves, place the stuffed artichokes in a small baking dish. Drizzle them with a bit more oil. Bake for about 15 minutes until they are browned and crispy. Serve while hot.
For more artichoke recipes, try Fried Artichokes over Lemon Butter Pasta, Seasonal Quinoa Pilaf with Ramps, Artichokes and Peas, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Artichoke Paella, and Walnut Crusted Artichoke Hearts.
Okra is very healthy, but sadly, it has a bad reputation for tasting slimy. There are ways to cook it, however, so that it doesn’t end up slimy. Okra can be sliced and sauteed, roasted whole or put into soups, stews and gumbos. I make an Indian dish called Bhindi Masala, which has okra cooked with onions, chili peppers and tons of warm, fragrant Indian spices. It’s amazingly delicious and full of flavor. To make it: heat 2 Tbs. coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large pan that has a lid. Add 1 large chopped onion and let cook for 4 minutes until browned. Add 1 tsp. each ground cumin, turmeric, and ground coriander, ½ tsp. ground cardamom, ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp. ground cloves and mix so that the onions are coated with the spices. Add the 4 minced garlic cloves and 1-inch of grated ginger, mix and cook for about 1 minute. The mixture should be very fragrant. Add 3 cups of sliced okra and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 seeded and chopped chile pepper, 1 tsp.garam masala, 1 tsp. kosher salt and ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 6 minutes. Add 1 tsp. agave nectar, stir and partially cover the pan. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, cover the pan completely and let the okra sit for 5 minutes. This allows the flavors to get absorbed. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve over rice. Other dishes that can change your mind about okra include this Creole Okra Corn Soup.
Since I could eat tofu for every meal every single day, it’s funny that I remember how I used to order Chinese food and beg, threaten and implore them to not put any bean curd in my dishes. I hated tofu. It was mushy and tasteless. Now I know it doesn’t have to be that way and I will spend the rest of my life trying to teach people how to properly prepare and cook tofu. For all my tips, check out 6 Tips that will Make You Love Tofu, 7 Steps to Make the Perfect Tofu Dish, and Tofu: How to Avoid 5 Common Cooking Mistakes. Learn How to Make the Perfect Baked Tofu and How to Make Epic BBQ Tofu Wings.
Recipes that will have you loving tofu as much as I do include General Tso’s Tofu, Jamaican Curried Tofu with Chickpeas, Crispy Tofu Nuggets, Grilled Buffalo Tofu Po’ Boy with Apple Slaw, Tandoori Tofu, Vegan Tofu Scallops, Vegan “Shrimp” Scampi, and Shepherd’s Pot Pie with Tofu. For even more, see 10 Ways to Cook Tofu with Global Flavors.
Avocado toast is all the rage and it may seem unbelievable that anyone could not like this glorious green fruit but it’s true. Some people don’t like the taste and/or texture of avocado. Sometimes if you don’t like the taste of a food on its own, it’s good to add other flavors, not to cover it but to enhance it. The mild flavor of avocado makes it a blank canvas that welcomes spices and cooking methods that intensify the flavor. Everything tastes good when it’s breaded and fried so the true test may be trying these Avocado Jalapeno Poppers.
Other avocado recipes to try include Sauteed Avocados, Easy Avocado Salad, Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad, Raw Peas, Mint and Avocado Soup, Grilled Avocado with Roasted Tomatoes, Avocado, Kale and Chile Salad, Avocado and Black Bean Tortas, and Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado-Mint Icing.
Before you swear you hate any food, please give it a try or two. Read my 5 Rules to Start Enjoying New and Unfamiliar Foods and then try something new this week. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Lead Image Source: Overstuffed Artichokes by Rhea Parsons