If you’re a health nut or a dieter wishing you liked vegetables more, or a mom who would like her children to eat more vegetables, I can help. I understand why you want to like vegetables. They’re so beneficial. They can prevent disease, restore health, and produce beauty. I also understand why you might not be in love with them yet, and there are three main reasons that that occurs: you’ve always had them prepared in boring ways, you have a corrupt palate, or you think they’re too much trouble to prepare.
Just to give you a little perspective, boring vegetables did not used to be a problem in America. Vegetables in the mid-20th century were basically boiled or steamed and seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper. Just plain vegetables. No dynamic “Bam!” combinations of spices. Even the cookbooks of the day mostly told you how to boil, steam, and bake your vegetables with few variations beyond that. Some people drowned all their vegetables in cream sauce or poured canned soup over them, but in large part America just ate its vegetables plain. Sure, there were kids (and adults) that did not like vegetables, or at least certain vegetables, but for the most part vegetables were considered an essential part of every meal but breakfast, and people ate them.
Fast forward to the late 20th and early 21st centuries and you can see that this vegetable-eating habit is largely gone. The old rules have been broken, and people eat whatever they want, with most of them skipping vegetables a lot of the time. They do eat McDonald’s French fries, their Aunt Hattie’s candied yams, and buttered popcorn at the movies, but when it comes to vegetables that can actually keep them healthy, like squash, leafy greens, or purple cabbage, they’re just not interested.
One reason is that their palates have been corrupted. These people are accustomed to eating foods laden with sugar, salt, fat, and all kinds of artificial flavorings and flavor enhancers. A corrupt palate is an addicted palate. The growing list of additives to processed food is like an addict’s drug supply inventory. Most of the things that manufacturers add to processed food will get you addicted to it—so much so that you can’t stand to eat it any other way. Oatmeal made with nothing but water tastes nothing at all like oatmeal loaded with sugar, flavor buds, and a host of other addictive chemicals and flavorings. Once you like the addictive version, the real oatmeal tastes flavorless and boring. However, once you're no longer addicted to the pumped-up kind, real oatmeal has that authentic oatmeal taste, with its nuttiness, chewiness, and calming effect. Hyped-up oatmeal just tastes like the flavorings, with no resemblance to real oatmeal. After you’re unaddicted, hyped-up oatmeal just tastes fake, and the real stuff tastes rich and satisfying.
I remember reading about a young boy one time whose parents were distraught because he simply would not eat. Every day at the dinner table, he sat quietly while they devoured their meat and vegetables. They tried everything to get him to eat, but to no avail. Finally they discovered that he had been secretly eating candy every day instead of food. Once they took away the candy, he was once again interested in real food. This incident could be a parable for modern eaters.
I know you think you don’t have time to make real food; you’re sure you have to buy the processed kind. That’s not really true, though. You can steam a vegetable in the microwave in a few minutes. You can make even the more interesting vegetable dishes in just a little more time if you make them raw. With all of the modern conveniences in today’s kitchens, eating vegetables is no longer a chore; it’s quick and easy.
Do you really want to love vegetables? Stop eating the candy that corrupts your palate. Get back to enjoying the real taste and texture of authentic food. You don’t have to eat it plain like mid-century Americans did. You can add spices and herbs, juices, and other ingredients. Just don’t add addictive, hyped-up chemical ingredients like MSG, yeast extract, brown rice syrup, or any other form of processed sugar and you should be fine.
One of my favorite winter treats is butternut squash with fresh orange added. In fact, I’m making it again today because I’m in the mood. This is a transitional recipe that lets you eat the squash cooked but add raw orange for some raw food benefits, and you can tweak it further by including other raw ingredients that you like. A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds or chopped nuts would be nice, for example.
However, an even tastier butternut squash recipe is Sergei’s Butternut Squash Cookies; check out page 242. These cookies use raw squash and include raisins as well as orange juice, plus some spices. Yum! Sergei makes his in the dehydrator, which makes them more like real cookies, but hey—if you don’t want to wait 12 to 15 hours to dehydrate them, you could just eat the mixture with a spoon. It would still be terrific.
Here’s my advice. Wean yourself off the chemicalized food and start trying quick, easy vegetable recipes that have the natural flavors you enjoy. Use organic vegetables. They’re usually not more than a few cents more expensive than the kind with toxic pesticides that are genetically modified, and they often have better flavor. There are plenty of great spices to keep your unaddicted palate happy. How about cinnamon, red pepper, garlic powder, and fresh chives or basil? And then there are fresh lemon, lime, and orange juices. These are some of my faves. If there’s a processed food you like, find a recipe for a natural version and add some extra natural seasoning to give it a little extra punch. While you’re transitioning away from hyper-flavored food, you can try some of the more seasoned raw recipes, like Carrot Cake Salad.
Someday, your newly refreshed palate may even surprise you by demanding a plain vegetable. Maybe you’ll discover a new side of yourself.