tips for introducing veggies into diet

jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
First of all, the need for this post is coming from a VERY emotional place for me, so I'll probably do a lot more reading/listening than posting/responding... simply to keep the thread from getting bogged down (or shut down if I get angry/emotional). So if I'm not replying to your posts... I am still here, reading, trying to absorb things.

As such, I know some of you will want to say something along the lines of, "dude, grow up and try some different foods." While the merit of that is not lost on me, it's just not helpful right now, and I'd appreciate it if we could be a bit more constructive with the advice. Thanks.

With that out of the way...
My family is being forced to move away from a carb/fat centered diet to VERY low carb (low glycemic index, specifically) with emphasis on increased protein. For some of us, that won't be a big deal, but for others, it's a HUGE shift. No one in my family really cooks, but that's less of a hurdle than the fact that some of us have significant issues/gag reflexes when it comes to texture.

So my primary question is... any tips or suggestions on how to start introducing veggies into diets? At this point, I'm leaning towards a lot of take-out meals with veggies for sides. My thinking is that the veggies will likely be better prepared (and taste better) than whatever I could cook at home, but eating in the comfort/privacy of home will take some of the stress away. Any suggestions on good "starter" veggies, both the actual vegetable but also how it's prepared?

I'm also thinking that raw veggies is probably a good option because of the texture thing I mentioned before. What veggies are good raw? I've seen people eating peppers like apples... sugar snap pees maybe.

Thanks everyone.

MODS - if this is better in Recipes, feel free to move it.


  • kd_mazur
    kd_mazur Posts: 569 Member
    Steamer packs of frozen veggies have become a staple in my house. I like broccoli, cauliflower, & carrots. They take a few minutes in the microwave. Next, I empty the bag onto a cookie sheet and bake for a few more minutes. This gets rid of the additional moisture that sometimes occurs in frozen veggies. I can often eat a whole bag with few calories.
    As for raw veggies, I enjoy cucumbers, bell peppers, celery and carrots. I enjoy eating bell peppers or celery with guacamole (taking the place of the chips).
  • Tacklewasher
    Tacklewasher Posts: 7,122 Member
    I don't like veggies. Never have. I like them even less cooked. So I do what I like. Raw baby carrots, snap peas, some salads but about the only veggies I like cooked are peppers.

    At 53, I'm not going to try to change my ways. I do not concern myself with what others think I need to eat, I don't eat the same as my wife (who loves cooked veggies) and I'm good with that.

    So, as a suggestion, go to the grocery store and buy a little bit of everything that looks appealing and try it. Throw away what you don't like and focus simply on what you like. If you want to try cooking them, then roast or grill them. It sounds like you won't like boiled veggies anyway (I don't) so I probably wouldn't try those.

    Having said that, I don't think the idea of take out for veggies will work very well. Restaurants tend to make the veggies mushy and it sounds like you would like crispy ones better.

    Anyway, it's how I'm dealing with getting more veggies in my diet.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,013 Member
    edited October 2018
    I buy a bag of baby carrots every week to snack on, great to dip. Other raw veggies I like raw and crunchy are cucumber, celery, sweet peppers cut into strips, tomatoes.

    I think the best option for texture might be stirfry. Just put some oil in a fry pan, chop pretty much any veggie into bite size pieces, throw it in the hot pan with some sauce or spices, and toss and stir it around. You control the texture by how long you cook it, lots of veggies can get heated through but still crisp.

    Roasting will make veggies soft, but most get caramelized and sweet. What about cooked onions, not sure if that will hit on the texture issue, but you can top just about any protein with cooked onions.

    Perhaps you can make sauces for your proteins out of veggies? My friend makes chicken cutlets and smothers them in tomato sauce with finely chopped spinach in it. Actually, if you like tomato sauce, my friend does this for her fussy son - microwave pretty much any bagged frozen veggie, chop it into small pieces if necessary, and then "sauce" it in tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
  • lucys1225
    lucys1225 Posts: 597 Member
    What is the texture you're trying to avoid? I'm guessing its soft since you're asking about raw vegetables. If you want to try making some at home, you can try roasting cauliflower and broccoli. If you cook them at a high temperature (425-450) they take on an almost nutty flavor and you can adjust the time depending on the texture you want. Also, cauliflower rice is another good one to try. It will take on any flavor you put with it and, again, you can adjust the cooking time for desired texture. Good luck!
  • MonkeyMel21
    MonkeyMel21 Posts: 2,395 Member
    I suggest fresh or frozen, never canned (well, I think canned corn isn't too bad). I really like raw veggies like, red/orange/yellow bell peppers, sugar snap peas, carrots, and celery either alone or dipped in hummus (I love hummus). I roast things like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts with a touch of olive oil and season salt/pepper/garlic/etc.
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,464 Member
    Keep a diary and note your successes. Those will be repeats.

    Introduce one veggie a week. Google recipes.

    Buy very small quantities and eat it quickly. Old veggies are a waste and will leave you with bad memories.

    Nice dips can help like sriracha, cheese whiz and ranch dressing.

    I can’t think of any decent takeout veggies that hold up other than the veggies in War Wonton soup.

    Corn is a big child friendly favourite. It’s starchier and it’s mild.

    If you think crisp and crunchy might be tolerated better yes try the baby carrots, a cucumber, snap peas. Also along this line you can peel and cut in to fingers turnip, kohlrabi or rutabaga.

    Try bag salads that are already made up for you.

    As a replacement for pasta try baking a spaghetti squash and season with a little olive oil and pepper.

    Try grape tomatoes straight from the package.
  • TavistockToad
    TavistockToad Posts: 35,719 Member
    dip raw stuff in hummus or sour cream - peppers, celery, cucumber, babycorn

    roast and blend peppers/tomatoes/onion/courgette into sauce for spaghetti bolognese?

    most veg is tasty if you smother it in cheese.... (broccoli and cauliflower especially)
  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,342 Member
    Roasted veg have more flavour, especially if you add spices or balsamic vinegar - you still get that firm/crunchy texture.

    All of these roast really well - I do par boil potatoes/sweet potato/cauliflower for a few mins/drain and then roast in a little oil/with spices/balsamic vinegar:-

    Sweet potato/
    sweet peppers/
    corn on the cob
    parsnip/ (stronger in flavour but so sweet when roasted)

    Roasting veg takes anywhere from 20-30 min- depending on size you have cut veg.
  • Tacklewasher
    Tacklewasher Posts: 7,122 Member
    Grape tomatoes, cucumber pieces and balsamic vinegar makes a nice salady thing.

    I do like the bagged kale salad you can buy almost anywhere (including Costco). It's the one touting 7 superfoods or some such marketing gimmick, but it is good. I also like the Mexican'ish salad with the tortilla pieces and a spicy dressing.

    Stirfy's can be good. But I don't like them reheated so I'd only make enough for one meal.
  • pinuplove
    pinuplove Posts: 12,874 Member
    edited October 2018
    Personally I do NOT think takeout or restaurant veggies taste better than my own cooked at home. The texture and flavor suffers from holding and transport. Plus, they never get the seasoning right.
  • khoipondd
    khoipondd Posts: 5 Member
    I would look at your frequently eaten meals and find recipes with vegetable alternatives or subsitutions. I believe that this is a great way to begin branching out and finding what may or may not work for your tastes without going too far outside of your comfort zone.

    Start small like subbing half the pasta in a mac and cheese recipe for roasted broccoli. If you like it, make a conscious effort to do it more often. If you don't, then try mushrooms, cauliflower, etc. I would eventually look into other carb subsititions like riced cauliflower, zoodles, carrot spirals, thin sweet potato cuts, etc. This method also works for focusing on any other macro.

    There are so many ways to cook veggies that I think you will be much more satisfied in the long term if you try it for yourself at home. Look at pictures. Don't be intimidated by possible textures and experiment. Seasonings!! Sauces!! Some veggies might be better roasted and others stirfried. Luckily veggies are relatively inexpensive to try this with. Frozen veggies can be thrown in the microwave or on a sheet pan and a good way to cut down on prep time.

    I know you won't like them all but, after you tried it and understand the cooking process, it'll hopefully no longer be a foreign element on menus or recipes and more of an "ah hah I can sub X for Y".

    Good luck on your vegetables journey!! :smiley:
  • stewarm01
    stewarm01 Posts: 331 Member
    This is just a dumb comment I'm going to make, but I love vegatables because for one they are low in calories. Which I count heavily.
  • TavistockToad
    TavistockToad Posts: 35,719 Member
    Also, my husband follows a low carb and gluten free diet, so our evening meal is usually quite veg heavy if you wanna look in my diary for some ideas?
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,763 Member
    I think some takeout vegetables do taste really good. I particularly like them in Thai, Chinese, and Indian food. Trying some of these may give you a better idea of which vegetables you enjoy and how to prepare them.

    For eating at home, I've found that roasting is one of the best ways to make vegetables more appealing. My husband is very particular about vegetables, but he's more likely to try one that is roasted than, say, steamed. when roasted.

    Sauces do a lot for vegetables. If your diet is lower carbohydrate, then you'll have some latitude for fattier sauces or to use oil when roasting your vegetables. Whatever sauces you know you like, serve those with the vegetables. And don't be afraid of seasoning either -- you can buy pre-made seasoning mixes or just add your favorite spices. Think unusual combinations: ranch or taco seasoning or whatever you like.

    If texture is an issue, pureed soups are a great way to get lots of vegetables at once. I don't know if you have a wand mixer, but they're amazing for pureeing soups right in the pan. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower are great for soups and you can also puree lots of greens into a soup. This is also a place where fat can help the flavor -- I would use things like nut butters or coconut milk, obviously there is a whole world of dairy fats out there too.

    Raw vegetables I really like: cabbage (shredded, with either a spicy or Asian-style dressing), carrots, red bell peppers, and cucumber (you can slice this thin and quick pickle it with some apple cider or rice vinegar or use thicker slices with a dip).

    When I met my husband, his vegetable intake was pretty much limited to potatoes, canned green beans, tomato sauce, and iceberg lettuce. He wanted that to change and over the years has experimented with a lot of different vegetables. I would say that most of his issues are textural, but he has some strong taste aversions too. Here are some of the things he'll eat now: steamed fresh asparagus topped with shredded parmesan cheese, frozen corn and peas topped with butter, steamed or roasted broccoli topped with lemon juice or soy sauce, vegetable tempura (broccoli, carrots, and onion), red cabbage (chopped into a salad of iceberg or romaine lettuce), red bell pepper (in curries or Mexican food), fresh green beans (steamed or in a curry), and sliced tomatoes on a sandwich. It's not a lot, but he's still experimenting and he's eating some kind of fresh vegetable almost every day. I don't think he'll ever be enthusiastically eating mushrooms or beets, but ten years ago I don't think he could have possibly guessed that he would be eating the way he does today. The trick was that he kept trying. He keeps trying new stuff, even if he has to spit it out before he swallows it.

  • Safari_Gal
    Safari_Gal Posts: 888 Member
    edited October 2018
    @jjpptt2 - kudos for switching things up and focusing on health for your family!

    I know changing up the way we eat can be a challenge. I went from a high carb diet to a low carb, low glycemic diet for health reasons.
    So - you’re speaking my language when it comes to adding in veggies! (I love the little buggers tho. ☺️) It could be an adventure trying new foods!

    I second the idea about finding a few vegetable substitutes to ease the transition. I save the exotic vegetables for another time! Lol

    Some ideas:

    Cauliflower rice can be seasoned and fried up to be similar to Chinese fried rice. Comes already riced and/or frozen in most supermarkets.

    Tried zoodles? (Also can come pre sliced) Zucchini noodles? Watch the serving size as it’s a bit more starchy - could be a nice dish with a little tomato sauce ( watch the sugars in the sauce)

    Roasted broccoli - with garlic and Parmesan- or a little butter.

    Does your family like soup? You can purée steamed broccoli or cauliflower into a soup - lots of recipes for that.

    Roasted portobello mushroom - use instead of a bun for burgers!

    I find peppers to be very versatile/ either in a stir fry like our friends said above or in a soup or stuffed pepper recipe. Fill with chopped meat and seasoning and voila! Savory goodness. :)

    Kale is low glycemic and has protein — kale shakes or steamed as a side dish.

    Hope some of these may sound tantalizing.

    Bon appétit!

  • bpotts44
    bpotts44 Posts: 1,066 Member
    We oven roast our veggies alot with a little olive oil and salt. We use broccoli, califlower, onions, peppers carrots, potatoes, etc.

    One thought is a green smoothie. I put a whole heart of romaine in my smoothies. Simple formula 1. Greens 2. Liquid (I use water but alot of people use different kinds of milk) 3. Fruit (low glycemic berries should work under low carb 4. Others (whey, greek yogurt, flax seed whatever you want). This gets you a tons of greens and berries with a pure drink like consistency.
  • puffbrat
    puffbrat Posts: 2,806 Member
    I'm extremely picky eater and my vegetable repertoire is fairly limited. One thing I would say is to just remember that there is huge variation in veggies and work to identify the ones that your family likes or finds tolerable versus those that are completely intolerable no matter the preparation.

    Not knowing the specific dislikes, I personally think roasted and grilled veggies taste the BEST. Lightly brush (or drench as one desires) in olive oil, add some salt, pepper, maybe chile powder, garlic powder or cayenne and stick those things in a hot oven or on a grill.

    If cooking something else with lots of components (pasta, meatballs, etc.), dice the veggies really fine and lightly sautee in a pan if not otherwise indicated in the recipe. This can help mask both the texture and flavor of veggies while still incorporating potentially large quantities.

    Eggplant can be delicious when properly roasted or sauteed but absolutely disgusting if undercooked.

    Steamed and raw veggies go great with things like ranch dressing, cheese sauces, etc. Basically high fat content dips and sauces.

    I also like to sneak spinach into the occasional fruit smoothie. I add a whole grated zucchini to my black bean recipe which find doesn't change the flavor at all but adds more total volume giving me more servings while also reducing the number of calories per serving.

    I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I know there are books for how to sneak veggies into food for kids. Something like that might also be able to provide some helpful tips and tricks.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
    Thank you everyone. So far it seems like raw is a good starting point, especially because that makes for very easy on-the-go options (kids' lunches and the like).

    Roasting also seems to be a popular option... and adding a little oil/garlic/cheese never hurts anything, so at the very least, that's worth trying.

    Keep the suggestions coming...
  • megbeveridge93
    megbeveridge93 Posts: 238 Member
    Put some greens or bland veggies into smoothies for a snack. If you make pancakes or waffles ever, you can put pureed carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, etc. in the mix. You can roast sliced up sweet potatoes into fries or chips. However, if you're not cooking, raw is good and so is finding veggie chips at the store. Not the puffy, vaguely vegetable colored ones, but the real sliced vegetable ones. You can order the kids veggie burgers or buy the cauliflower mac & cheese that I've seen around now. Some applesauces now come with veggies mixed in too!
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 34,080 Member
    I didn't read all the comments because ...I just didn't.

    I do have friend with texture issues and she bought a good juicer. She replaced one meal completely with juicing. That way she can eat what she wants and likes at the other meal.

    If whatever is going on requires fiber, I don't know if that will be very helpful, but you could add more nuts and fruits (whole) to get fiber - plus there are lots of palatable fiber supplements, and besides juicing there is always smoothies. A lot of raw vegetables work in smoothies.