Don’t overthink this or panic: you’re more likely than not going to pick out good veggies (provided you’re going to a reputable grocery store), but having a bit of confidence in what you’re doing can help too.
Here are a few examples of what to look for:
Asparagus: Choose firm, smooth, and brightly-colored stalks with compact tips. Avoid limp stalks. Choose stalks of equal thickness to ensure even cooking times.
Broccoli: Choose broccoli with firm stalks, tight florets, and crisp green leaves. Avoid yellowed or flowering florets.
Brussels Sprouts: Choose firm, compact, bright green heads. Avoid sprouts with wilted or loose outer leaves.
Noticing a trend? You want FIRM vegetables, not soggy or squishy ones. Just start there, and look for the veggies that seem healthy to you. You can always get better at judging vegetable quality later.
2) CONSIDER PRE-CUT VEGGIES:If you’re worried about picking out fresh vegetables – I know this can be intimidating – look into buying pre-cut bags of vegetables! I personally love buying pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower, and bags of Brussels sprouts.
These are generally on the wall next to the fresh veggies, and might cost slightly more than the produce you bag up yourself.
That’s because a lot of the work is DONE FOR YOU!
I’m all for anything that reduces the number of steps between you and “veggies in your tummy:”
3) LEARN HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO EAT THE VEGGIE:
Once you’ve bought your veggies, use StillTasty.com, to figure out how long you can leave them in your fridge:
Generally speaking, you’ll be good if you cook a vegetable within 3 days of bringing it home: you can batch cook large quantities and then you’ll have MANY more days before the food goes bad.
If you’re NOT sure if you can still cook a veggie, or if it’s gone bad…give it a smell. If it smells funky, or you’re not quite sure…
Here’s a sentence my mom taught me when I started cooking for myself: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Next time, just cook it sooner!
I can tell you eating rotten vegetables is NOT the path to liking them more.
4) CONSIDER FROZEN VEGETABLES: I always have multiple bags of frozen spinach on hand in my freezer, but it’s not because I prepare spinach regularly – I hide frozen spinach in my daily smoothies and I can’t even taste it!
In addition to frozen spinach, I also keep a few bags of microwaveable frozen veggies on hand too in case I need to quickly add a veggie to my healthy plate but don’t want to actually cook a vegetable.
I’m a huge fan of “steamfresh” bags or similar because preparing them is easy as hell:
Most of these only require you throwing the bag into the microwave, opening it, and putting it on your plate.
5) Check out canned vegetables!
They might not be as fresh as regular veggies, and there might be preservatives added to keep them from going bad, but I’d prefer you trying out canned vegetables to no vegetables at all!
Popeye eats canned spinach and he turned out okay.
Honestly, I don’t care WHICH path you pick, or which vegetable you pick…as long you commit to picking one and bringing it home with you from the grocery store.
10 Ways to Make Vegetables Taste Good
Even if you’re committed to trying more veggies (and I’m proud of you for that), it still might not solve the problem that you dislike the taste or texture.
This is the problem we encounter with many of our Online Coaching Clients: they are committed to eating vegetables, but they’re struggling with taste and texture.
Fortunately, we have a TEAM of Coaches with dozens of success stories from their clients who have learned to like vegetables with some clever tactics:
Essentially, it comes down to “hide them, blend them, pair them, or cover them!”
Here are our Coaching Staff’s 8 Favorite Ways to Make Vegetables Taste Good:
1) Change their state! I don’t enjoy raw broccoli nearly as much as I do steamed broccoli.
And that’s not even it’s final form! Give me a plate full of roasted broccoli covered in “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning from Trader Joes, and it’s Veggie Valhalla.
If you don’t like a particular vegetable yet, try preparing it a different way! From raw to steamed to baked to grilled to sautéed in bacon grease (see #4) to blended, you have so many options!
2) Blend them up! Add frozen spinach or kale to your protein shake smoothies. This is my personal favorite, and is part of the reason I get so many servings of vegetables every day.
Here’s my post-strength training workout smoothie:
12 oz of water.
2 scoops of whey protein.
1/2 cup of Quaker Oats.
1 cup of frozen mixed berries.
1 cup of frozen spinach.
Believe it or not, adding frozen spinach (or kale) doesn’t really change the taste AND you can get an extra serving of vegetables without trying.
That’s one extra daily serving of a super veggie!
3) Make a combo bite with a food you like: If you can learn to cook something like chicken stir fry, you can make sure that every vegetable bite also has plenty of rice and chicken.
You can do the same if you make mini potatoes, chicken, and broccoli. Get some of each on the fork with each bite for a really healthy plate!
Then, over time you can reduce the amounts of the other foods and increase the amount of the vegetable until you actually enjoy the taste of JUST the vegetable!
Here are some ideas to try to squeeze in some extra veggies with every mouthful of food:
a single broccoli crown and a big chunk of chicken.
Make carrot “fries.”Cut some carrots into fry shapes, toss them in olive oil, put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Tada!
Buy “cauliflower rice” or “mashed cauliflower.” With butter and salt, and on a plate with the right foods, cauliflower can taste like rice or mashed potatoes.
8) Dunk them! Who needs chips? Pssh. You can dunk broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, or carrot sticks in hummus or guacamole.
Think of the vegetable as the delivery vehicle for your favorite dunking food!
9) Add small amounts of spinach, chard, or kale to your homemade chili or guacamole. You won’t notice the difference in the taste, and you’re sneaking extra vegetables into your meals.
I know a coaching client who got started with vegetables by adding them to low carb soups and his homemade chili.
10) Douse them in something you do love. Whether it’s ranch dressing, blue cheese, buffalo sauce, or any other sauce or condiment you enjoy, dunk those veggies and get those greens in your system!
Sure, If the sauce you’re using is really high calorie then this isn’t a long-term strategy, but we can work on that.
For now, we’re building the habit of eating vegetables. Use less sauce each week moving forward.
You can also consider lower-calorie dressings, sauces, and dips to spice things up. And you can never go wrong with hot sauce.
All of the above examples accomplish the same goal:
Getting more vegetables into your system.
This makes your stomach happy, your mother happy, and Popeye happy.
Want to work hand-in-hand (virtually) with a coach that will actually get you to eat your vegetables?
Need a brainstorm partner to find clever ways to “Trojan Horse” some veggies into your stomach?
How to Start Liking Vegetables (It’s All in the Preparation)
“Okay Steve, just give me some options and tell me what to do!”
Here are some easy and delicious options for getting started with your first vegetable:
#1) Steamed broccoli
Level 1: Steamfresh bag in the microwave: Steamfresh veggies come in a package that you can throw in the microwave for five minutes, add seasoning, and that’s it.
Add butter or any seasoning like salt and pepper, and eat it with a protein for a healthy meal!
Level 2: Steam broccoli yourself in the microwave:
Plop those florets (the “tree” minus the “trunk”) in a microwave-safe bowl with a few tablespoons of water
Cover with a microwave-safe lid or dish
Cook for 3-4 minutes. If the broccoli isn’t soft and warm, put it back in for a minute or two
Level 3: Steam broccoli on the stove:
Plop about a 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of a pot
Separating the broccoli florets from the stem
Plop them in the water and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes
2) Roasted vegetables. Works with bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, etc:
Roasted veggies can taste very different from steamed and raw veggies (they get crispier and a little sweeter because they caramelize in the oven).
Take your pick of vegetable:
And make roasted veggies:
Cut them up literally however you want (bite-sized pieces work best).
Drizzle/toss them toss in olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper.
Put them on a foil-lined pan in the oven at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 20-30 minutes.
Once they look like they’re cooked (a deeper color and slightly brownish edges), take them out of the oven.
Write down how long they were in for, and eat them!
Don’t overthink this: You can use more olive oil or use less. You can use more salt or use less. You can leave them in there a few minutes longer. Just cut them up, drizzle, and plop them in!
Here’s my recipe for stupidly simple roasted asparagus:
Put them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.
Drizzle each asparagus stalk in olive oil.
Sprinkle salt and pepper on them.
Stick them in the oven at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes.
DONE. Crunchy, delicious, and nutritious.
Plus, I felt like a 5-star chef!
#3) Sautéed Vegetables: Cooked on the stovetop! Simple, delicious.
Zucchini and squash both taste great with just a little oil and salt, and are super easy to prepare.
You can choose to:
Throw the slices into a pan with some olive oil on medium-high heat for about five minutes until they become soft and lighter in color.
All of these options can be paired with basically any protein for a delicious and healthy meal (or eaten as a healthy, stand-alone snack!).
If you attempt to cook a vegetable and burn them to a crisp and “fail,” I’ll still be proud of you. We all suck at stuff the first time, so the sooner we get those first few attempts out the way, we can get to “not sucky,” and then…
We’ll actually get pretty good at preparing vegetables!
What are the Best Tasting Vegetables? (The NF Veggie Challenge)
“Steve! What are the best-tasting vegetables!?”
You’re a unique snowflake, and so are your tastebuds.
They will evolve and change as you evolve and change.
So the best advice I can give you is to try lots of veggies, prepared lots of different ways.
Microwaved Brussels sprouts might be soggy and unappetizing, but take the same veggie, cooked in bacon fat and roasted in the oven?
So try multiple veggies, in multiple ways, as part of multiple meals. Keep trying until you find a variation you like!
A final note: the point of eating more vegetables is to fill your plate with low-calorie but nutrient-dense food.
If you’re still overwhelmed at the thought of eating veggies, or you’ve always struggled to stick to a diet for any meaningful amount of time, you are NOT alone.
It’s why we’ve created three key services that help people lose weight, get stronger, and live better:
#1) Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program: Get personalized nutrition advice that won’t scare you and handcrafted workouts from a coach that gets to know you. We’ve heard “this program is the first time I’ve ever been 100% honest with another human being about my struggles with food.”
#2) Nerd Fitness Prime: Need lots of recipes to choose from? Want someone to walk you through cooking them? Join Nerd Fitness Prime!
Nerd Fitness Prime is our premium membership program that contains workouts and cooking classes with NF Coaches, lessons on how to cook, tons of healthy recipes, a supportive online community, group challenges, and much more!
#3) Join the Nerd Fitness Rebellion!
We have a free email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so.
I’ll also send you tons of free guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:
Download our free weight loss guide
THE NERD FITNESS DIET: 10 Levels to Change Your Life
Follow our 10-level nutrition system at your own pace
What you need to know about weight loss and healthy eating
3 Simple rules we follow every day to stay on target
NOW, Are you up for the Nerd Fitness Veggie Challenge?
For the next four weeks, I want you to try ONE new vegetable each week: