7 tasty ways to trick yourself into eating more vegetables and fruits
Roughage doesn't have to be rough on your tastebuds
A big heaping pile of lettuce isn’t exactly winning awards for anyone’s go-to meal anytime soon. And if your kid is sneaking broccoli off his plate into the dog’s bowl, you’ve got a problem. If you, like most people, aren’t a fan of the fibre life, we get it. But let’s be honest, the nutritional value, benefits and necessity of including greens in your diet are undisputed. And since there’s no replacement, Antonia Achache Head Chef and Co-Owner of Kitchen Garden advised ELLE on ways to trick yourself and your kids into eating more vegetables and just being overall healthier.
“Kids will naturally prefer sweet dishes or anything greasy, salty…and refuse vegetables. Their taste has to be trained,” says the F&B expert. “It’s by repeatedly trying different preparations, different vegetables, different flavours that they will eventually start liking them.”
This may sound near impossible, but start small. Get rid of those carton juices and instead, try new juice recipes at home balancing fruits and vegetables. Get rid of that ketchup bottle, mayonnaise and other industrialised condiments. Antonia advises hung curd with spices as a substitute for mayonnaise. Her recipes for a homemade tomato sauce, which can be used as a substitute for store-bought ketchup, have you consuming fresher ingredients.
If you’re already open to the idea of more veggies, maybe just seeing them in a different form is the trick. Forget salads as a staple form; try blending veggies into soups. Cutting them up and serving them in stick form as a snack, trick yourself by covering them in cheese or a white sauce. Antonia suggests letting your child be part of the preparation process.
If you’re completely averse to the idea of more roughage, you may want to try hiding them in your favourite foods. Grate zucchini into your mince for meatballs. Instead of pasta sheets in lasagna, use thinly cut zucchini. Blend vegetables into your sauces, like mushroom sauce, spinach and squash.
While you can’t change the taste of the veggie itself, you can mask it. Replace potatoes with sweet potatoes in your vegetable soup to give a slightly sweeter taste. Grate cheese on top of the veggies or soup. Even adding in croutons can help change the experience.
Combining your food groups in one dish has more benefits than you think. Carbs and grains, which are also necessary for a well-rounded diet, can be paired with vegetables to provide a more colourful eating experience. Fried rice with peas, carrots, onions and other vegetables are one example. Vegetables can add flavours to risottos, pastas and lasagnas. Or you could try baking all the vegetable ingredients into a quiche.
While you can never substitute in terms of flavor for the real thing, nutritionally, you couldn’t do a better job. Replacing pizza crust for a cauliflower base, or using cauliflower as rice tossed with veggies is also an option. Zucchini noodles and squash have long been a carb replacement for those doing keto diets. Sweet potato over baked fries are a healthier option to fast food. And even avocado can be used as a replacement for butter in many recipes.
Blending fruits to sweeten your veggie smoothie is one healthy option. But fruits and their natural sweetening properties make them great for dessert time. Antonia suggest a fruit compote to accompany your dessert rather than store-bought bottled sauces. Steaming fruits, then blending them or mushing them into a puree should do the trick. Even an oven-baked apple makes a great desert substitute. Clean an apple and keep the skin on -- use organic fruits so that there aren’t any pesticides on the skin -- remove the core of an apple and put a little piece of butter inside, a teaspoon of jaggery, jam or honey and bake in the oven until the apple is soft.
Antonia shares three recipes from the Kitchen Garden with us:
2 garlic cloves very finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh oregano
1 pinch paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
About 200 mL cooking water from roasted mushrooms + vegetable stock (or plain water if you don’t have stock)
90 ml milk (use milk instead of fresh cream to make your soup lighter)
Clean the mushrooms. Cut them in medium slices.
In a pan, heat olive oil and add chopped garlic and onions. Cook until golden brown.
Add mushrooms, chopped fresh herbs, paprika, salt and pepper.
Grill the mushrooms, removing cooking water regularly (keep the water aside)
When the mushrooms are golden, add the milk, cooking water and stock and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
Blend to very smooth consistency.
Add more water or milk if you want your soup more liquid.
1 kg tomatoes blanched, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove the skin. Cut in dices.
In a saucepan, add butter and olive oil on medium heat. When foamy, add the garlic and fresh herbs.
Add the diced tomatoes, olives, sugar and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes are melted.
Blend if you want a more homogenous sauce.
For the pastry
200g all-purpose flour (maida)
90g diced butter
For the mixture
125 ml milk
125 ml fresh cream
Salt, pepper, nutmeg to season
- ham & cheese
- olive, feta & tomatoes
- grilled mushrooms & cheese
- salmon & spinach
For the pastry:
- Combine the flour and salt. Add the butter. Mix with the tip of the fingers.
- Once the mix is homogeneous, add the water and the eggs. Make sure all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Shape into a ball, cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, remove from the fridge, spread the dough with a rolling pin (around 2mm thick) and place the pastry in the buttered moulds.
For the mixture:
Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl. Mix till homogeneous.
Put your fillings on the pastry and pour the mixture on top until the edge.
Bake at 185°C for about 25 minutes.
Image credit: Flickr