The Daily Beet

28 Jan Getting Ready for the Challenge: I Don’t Like Vegetables!!

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You’d really like to start the Engine 2 National Challenge next week, but one big problem, you HATE vegetables. This past week we got several e-mails from E2-ers telling us just that. So what do you do? And what do you do when you don’t like other plant-strong foods?

We get it, some of you don’t like certain foods. You don’t like kale or collard greens, you hate carrots, you don’t like tofu, you hate the site of lima beans, cilantro makes you run for the hills, you can’t even stand the site of a mango, you HATE oatmeal!

Not everyone LOVES every food. And more so, if you have children, you probably have encountered at least one tantrum over anything green on the plate. (because we all know that anything green will surely jump up and BITE them!).

But fear not. We are here to help, and we’re even here to help your kids out.

First, we’ll start by saying MOST people who start out NOT enjoying a certain food when they go plant-strong end up liking it by the end of their 28 days. You would be surprised, how often this happens. We even see this at our immersion programs, the first day some people report that they are not a huge fan of the food, and by the second day they are RAVING about the food. Sometimes it just takes a clear palate to encourage those taste buds to start working in your favor.

Second, it is good to know there are NO super foods. NONE. You will not suffer because you hate kale but love spinach. All plant-strong foods are healthy for you, so you can relax, even if for right now you really only love potatoes and green beans, you are going to be okay.

Let’s talk about kids for a moment. A lot of parents tell us that their children will NOT eat any greens! Well that is completely normal. For many children, greens have a very bitter taste, and often that doesn’t go away until they mature a little more. Children tend to like mild tasting vegetables like, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and, as for a green, we’ve found that spinach tends to be on the more mild side. It is also a good idea to introduce foods so they are eating them in a way that introduces them to the taste. While sneaking them in might sound like a good idea, it might not do anything to help them to change their palet. (This is also true for Adults).

Stick to the foods that they do enjoy and then if you want to try new things, do so little bits at a time. They don’t need a huge variety in their diet in order for them to get what they need. Like adults, they need to be eating enough calories (plant-strong calories). So, try and add slowly, but don’t worry that they are not getting enough of something simply because they hate kale right now. ALL vegetables, whole grains, beans, some nuts and fruit are all great sources of nutrients, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Now let’s get down to how you get past your dislike of certain foods. First, it is important to remember that there are a lot of foods!

Here are some of the vegetables/beans/and grains that we enjoy:

Chives
Garlic
Leek
Onion Shallots
Scallions
Avocado
Peppers (green, red, yellow)
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Pepper
Cucumber

Eggplant
Okra
Olives
Pumpkin
Sweet Corn
Tomatillo
Tomato
(Acorn Squash)
Zucchini
Artichoke
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Squash Blossoms
Arugula
Beet Greens
Brussels Sprout
Cabbage
Celery
Spinach Chard
Chinese Cabbage
Collard Greens
Endive
Kale
Lettuce
Purslane
Radicchio
Water Cress
Poricini Mushrooms
Oyster Mushroom
Portobello Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms
Truffle Mushrooms
Azuki Bean
Black-eyed Pea
Chickpea
Fava Bean
Green Bean (French beans)
Lentil
Lima Bean
Mung Bean
Peas
Soybean (edamame)
Jicama
Lotus Roots
Parsley
Parsnip
Potato (all varieties)
Prairie Turnip
Radish Rutabaga
Sweet Potato
Yacon
Yam
Asparagus
Beets
Celery
Fennel
Fiddlehead Leek
Asparagus
Rhubarb
Swiss Chard
Quinoa
Brown Rice
Barley
Millet
Bulgar
Oats
Rye
Wheat Berries
Wild Rice
Whole Grain pasta

We’d list the fruits, but there is just not enough room :) You can check out this wikipedia article though.

So sit down, and go through and make a big list of all of the foods you DO enjoy. Don’t worry if you only like a few, you can start with a small variety.

The good news is, that you can make great tasting dishes with just a few ingredients. First of all, stir fry is always a great, fast meal option. Just throw some of the vegetables you do like into a pan with a little water or low sodium vegetable broth and cook them all the way through. Next, throw in some kind of bean or lentil, or some cubed tofu if you like, and then throw in some cooked brown rice. Don’t like brown rice? Try it with quinoa. Don’t like quinoa? Try it with barley. Don’t like greens? Add sweet potato, peas and onions. As you can see, the possibilities start to become endless.

Now, before you say it, or maybe you have already thought it – what about carbs?! What about all of those starches?!

Good news! Whole grains and healthy starches are good for you! They also have protein and the good stuff you need. We need carbohydrates, they are important for things like brain function. So if you like starchy vegetables or whole grains, stop worrying and enjoy them. Over time, maybe you will start to like a wider variety of vegetables, but right now, relax and enjoy the plant-strong food you DO enjoy.

The bottom line is that we all have to start somewhere, but the key is to START. Find the foods you do like and get rid of all of the bad junk that will only impede your progress AND stop you from really enjoying the new foods. The longer you eat the junk, the more you will crave it and the less appealing plant-strong food will be.

Check our Pinterest board for some great recipe inspiration!

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Natala Constantine
  • Leah

    Exactly! :)

  • justme

    If you don’t like veg, hide the taste with onions, garlic, lemon, red and black pepper, tomatoes, etc. I make the best kale with lots of onions, lemon, peppers, and tomatoes. Even my kale avoiding husband at 1/2 a pound of kale cooked this way the other night mixed into a small serving of brown rice pasta.

  • Jean Hayes

    Great article! My daughter hated veggies but we kept putting them on her plate but not forcing them. She kept tasting and eventually starting asking for 2nds and 3rds. Now she is a college junior and eats a plant based diet!

  • juliagreen

    Your brain needs GLUCOSE not carbohydrates. Glucose can come from carbohydrates, but it also comes from fat and protein. You do not need carbohydrates for brain function.