It’s no surprise that in order to lose weight and to achieve health we need to eat our vegetables.
Veggies are full of antioxidants, which are natural substances that are protective against oxidative stress and inflammation in the body that cause cellular damage. In many disease states our bodies are subjected to chronic inflammation. Having a diet full of vegetables gives your body a strong defense system against disease and inflammation.
In the case of obesity and excessive overweight, it’s known that the body undergoes what is called systemic inflammation. This type of inflammation occurs when there is a continuous immune response against the body. The exact way obesity triggers this response is currently unknown. In a state of this chronic, continuous inflammatory reaction our bodies are very vulnerable to nutrient depletion. This ongoing state of inflammation can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, as well as metabolic syndromes.
There are hundreds and thousands of antioxidants, but the ones that are most familiar to you may be: carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin A, C and E, zeaxanthin, selenium, flavonoids and polyphenols. It’s important to note that the protective effect of antioxidants in veggies are seen when they are consumed as whole foods in the context of a person’s entire diet, meaning you cannot get the same benefits from supplemental forms.
Additionally, incorporating veggies in your diet helps to give volume-bulk to your meals and allows you to feel more satisfied while eating on a caloric deficit for weight loss. Volumetric eating is one of the keys to successful fat loss and long-term weight management.
So, great we know that veggies are important to eat for health and weight loss, but how do we get ourselves to eat them?
First, I’d like you to understand that, our taste buds evolve, so whatever you give it the most, it will crave. In order to start liking and enjoying more vegetables, you have to start eating them more. There’s no way around it. This is how you train your palette.
FLAVORPOPS: TECHNIQUES, HERBS/SPICES & HEALTHY FATS
Essentially we want our veggies to taste goooood, this is how we will be able to eat them more. Below are three strategies to use to do just that!
Texture is a large part of why many people dislike veggies. Most of us don’t typically enjoy mushy green beans, and sometimes this can remind us of a time when we were younger and maybe were forced to eat something when we didn’t like to. This can cause us to associate that feeling with thinking all veggies will be like that.
The art of cooking can transform an everyday vegetable into something magical. Of course raw versions of most veggies are totally delicious and can be enjoyed endlessly, it’s OK if you may not be quite there yet. Seriously! And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Grilling involves a method of dry, direct heat by placing the food on a rack over a heat source. The direct heat quickly sears the outside of food, producing distinctive robust, roasted and sometimes pleasantly charred - flavors and a nice crust. Vegetables are cooked quickly, preserving much of their nutritional value. Win!
Honestly, you could place any veggie on a grill and it would taste amazing. I personally use this method of cooking when I am testing out a new veggie for the first time, because guess what? That charr taste is a very familiar taste for most of us, so it’s an easy way to introduce something to your palate.
Roasting uses indirect heat to cook food. Hot air covers the food and the dry heat cooks it. It is most often used to slow cook vegetables and can enhance the flavor and cause caramelization (DELISH!). This has got to be the best tasting flavor in the entire world.
When you are roasting you are using a technique called searing. And you might be saying at this point in the article… “I’m not into all of that…” But listen, as a person with an ADHD brain, I will tell you first hand - we are interested in things we understand. So, this aspect of having an open mind when thinking about your cooking and having an average understanding (average = passing grade remember) gets you interested in what you are doing. So keep reading.
This is definitely the most convenient source of cooking, especially for week nights. Place a bunch of veggies on a baking sheet and you have a quick and easy oven roast. Try this Sheet Pan Baked Feta Greek Veggies recipe.
You probably know someone who is obsessed with their air fryer. And it’s with good reason. This is a NON-NEGOTIABLE kitchen item for veggies (in my opinion). Essentially an air fryer is a countertop convection oven - it’s not actually frying your food. When you place the food in the basket and turn it on, the hot air rushes down and around the food. This rapid circulation makes the food crisp, and gives you a similar result to deep-frying, just without the oil.
This makes the veggies nice and crunchy, which can help to make them more enjoyable. You can also use this method to make healthy veggie chips, like this Carrot Chips recipe.
These cooking techniques are how you can modify the texture of veggies to enhance their flavor and make them even more palatable.
Seasonings bring veggies to life! Spices and herbs are the key to unlocking a whole veggie loving world. I always say start with ones you already KNOW you love. Fan of ranch? Add it to cauliflower! Love you some Italian spices? Perfect for spaghetti squash or eggplant. This, again allows you to slowly drip into the familiarity with ‘new to you veggies!’
These are some common flavors that are good to have on hand, in order to whip up creative, flavorful dishes. It’s good to have universal go-to seasoning blends, such as Everything But The Bagel, Pizza Seasoning, Lemon Pepper, etc. But, don’t be afraid to take a slow walk down the spice aisle and explore what your local grocery store has to offer and see what you gravitate towards! This is where the fun begins, of starting to explore your own unique palette preferences and taking back control of your health.
Bland-ness is outdated! Many of us have this idea that we shouldn’t add healthy fats to our veggies because of the “calories.” But in reality, if a little sauce or marinade helps you to eat MORE vegetables… It’s a good thing for weight loss overall! Of course, we must be mindful of the amount we add, which is true of anything for managing our weight, and it’s best to pick things that give a big kick for a smaller amount.
Condiments are great “companions” for veggies, but it’s best to be cautious while applying and a good guideline is to look for ones that are 0-40 calories per Tablespoon. Look for simple ingredients and try to stay away from artificial sweeteners like aspartame, Ace K and sucralose (if possible).
Nut or Seed Butter
Full fat cheeses
Alfredo or marinara
Seeds or Nuts (crushed as toppings)
Your goal is to pick 1-2 per meal that you enjoy the most. I always caution to start with a smaller amount and you always add more if you need to. As a means to quantify them I recommend using a tablespoon, bottle cap, or 1 oz shot glass (party trick), because the important piece is to be able to track how much you are consuming later.
Try any of these FlavorPop ways to switch up your view of veggies because the BEST veggies are the ones you enjoy eating MORE of.