13 Veggies You Only Think You Don't Like
Learn to love your veggies
Yuck-factor: An organic compound can cause Brussels sprouts to give off a stinky, sulfurous smell. "Boiling can make them seem slimy and even leach some of the nutrients into the water," says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health's contributing nutrition editor.
Make them delicious: Roast Brussels sprouts to seal in nutrients and flavor. "Just slice in half, mist with a garlic and herb infused olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees," Sass says.
Try this recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Capers and Carrots
Why you should eat it: Broccoli, another cruciferous veggie, is high in vitamin C and fiber and racks up just 33 calories per cup.
Yuck-factor: Broccoli can taste quite dry when eaten raw, and watch out if it's overcooked—you'll end up with some very mushy florets.
Make it delicious: Broccoli tastes best blanched—a cooking technique where you dunk veggies into icewater after boiling them for two to three minutes. "This helps broccoli retain its crunchiness," says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, wellness manager for Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute. It also ensures the nutrients won't get zapped from the food. After you've blanched the broccoli, you can pair it with an edamame dip for some extra fiber or top with lemon juice for an added kick, Kirkpatrick says.
Try this recipe: Broccoli Salad with Sesame Dressing and Cashews
Yuck-factor: "If you've only ever had the canned peas, then you are probably used to them being mushy," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD.
Make them delicious: Peas are another food you will love after blanching. "Peas boiled very fast are going to have a nice snap to them," says Zuckerbrot. Just make sure to follow the blanching times suggested by the National Center for Home and Food Preservation. The heat makes it easy for chlorophyll in the peas (or really any vegetable) to lose magnesium, leading to a chemical change that will leave them a yucky olive green if overcooked, Zuckerbrot says. When done just right, blanching will help your peas maintain ultimate freshness.
Try this recipe: Orzo with Shrimp and Tiny Peas
Yuck-factor: Some people find raw spinach too bitter, while overcooking the leafy green leaves a soggy, mushy mess.
Make it delicious: Adding fruit to your spinach salad cuts the bitter flavor, Sass says. With a drizzle of olive oil for seasoning, it will taste even better. "When I cook it, I often lightly sauté in a little bit of hot chili oil, along with minced garlic and chopped sweet bell pepper."
Watch this video: Spinach, Orzo, and Chickpea Soup
Why you should eat it: Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, with more than a day's worth of your daily intake, and has lots of water for extra hydration. Beyond that, it has phytonutrients that have been shown to lower cholesterol and fight your risk of cancer.
Yuck-factor: Boiling cauliflower can leave it soggy, bland, and smelly.
Make it delicious: Roasting cauliflower gives it a nutty, sweet flavor and creamy texture. Or, try Kirkpatrick's favorite recipe: "Sauté them in olive oil then add in some walnuts, turmeric, and tomato sauce."
Try this recipe: Roasted Cauliflower with Mornay Sauce
Yuck-factor: Beets contain the compound geosmin, also found in carp and catfish, which gives them an earthy flavor. Unfortunately it can also make beets taste like dirt. "That compound is most concentrated in the skin of fresh beets," Zuckerbrot says. "That's why you have to peel them first."
Make them delicious: After peeling, drizzle the beets with a bit of olive oil and roast them like a potato. Or you could try pickled beets, which have a crispy texture. "When they are pickled with a combination of vinegar, sugar, and spices, it gives them a similar taste to sweet pickles," Zuckerbrot says.
Try this recipe: Greek Salad with Roasted Beets, Olives and Feta
Yuck-factor: "Many people have been turned off by okra because their only experience has been a boiled, slimy version," Sass says. When overcooked, okra gets goopy because mucilage, a thick substance found in the veggie's seed pods, increases in thickness.
Make it delicious: Oven-roast, sauté, or even grill okra for optimal flavor. Sass herself is a big fan of grilling. "Just toss them in a little olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper and grill for about five minutes," she says.
Watch this video: 5 Healthy Grilling Strategies
Yuck-factor: Everyone knows that raw onions come with a sharp taste and smell. And although some people love the tangy crunch they add to a salad or sandwich, others are totally turned off by their smell and taste.
Make them delicious: "If you cook them using low-moderate heat, onions will start to caramelize after 10 minutes and take on a sweet taste," Kirkpatrick says.
Try this recipe: Tagine of Lamb With Caramelized Onions
Yuck-factor: "Some people don't like how it can get slimy if it's overcooked," Zuckerbrot says. It also has a naturally intense, bitter flavor.
Make it delicious: "Oven-roasted and grilled are my favorite ways to enjoy eggplant," says Sass. Slice, brush with olive oil, and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or skewer them for the grill. "Slices of grilled eggplant are terrific topped with a little olive tapenade," Sass says. You could also try one of these 11 eggplant recipes.
Yuck-factor: It can be hard to get over the bitter taste, which you can blame on a compound called cyanoglucosides. In fact, some people can inherit a gene that's more sensitive to this chemical, so they may find turnips too strong to tolerate.
Make them delicious: Sass's go-to method for preparing turnips: mashed. Boil until soft, then transfer to a food processor. Add yellow onions that have been sautéed in a bit of low-sodium veggie broth with garlic, olive oil, and black pepper. Puree until smooth.
Try this recipe: Creamy Turnip-Potato Purée
Yuck-factor: "Asparagus has a unique flavor some describe as woody," Sass says. "Proper seasoning can balance that out." But if not cooked properly, things can get a lot worse. Say hello to mushy spears and an ugly, dull-green veggie.
Make it delicious: Sass swears by oven roasting and sautéing the plant. "Oven roast them as you would Brussels sprouts or sauté in olive oil with lots of minced garlic," Sass says. "The olive oil and garlic can completely change the experience."
Watch the video: How to Trim Asparagus
Yuck-factor: Raw kale is tough to chew and has a strong taste. Plus, raw kale can be hard to digest, causing bloating and gas.
Make it delicious: "If you rub kale together for a few minutes, that breaks down the cellulose in the plant," Zuckerbrot says. "The leaves that were course get silky, darker, and shrink to half their volume." Another plus: the bitter taste mellows out and becomes sweeter. And when you massage kale, you won't need to use as much salad dressing to add flavor. A bit of olive oil or squeeze of lemon juice will balance it out, Zuckerbrot says. You could also try one of these 13 kale recipes.
Yuck-factor: Watch out if you boil cabbage too long. It's another veggie that will get smelly and slimy. Another mistake: forgetting to season the heads for an extra boost of flavor.
Make it delicious: For one, stay away from boiling it. Cabbage is better off sautéed with a mix of sweet additions. "I love to sautée cabbage with apple slices in olive oil, with a little chopped yellow onion, apple cider, salt, and pepper," Sass says. "The apples and onion really complement cabbage's natural flavor."
Try this recipe: Sweet Cabbage Salad