Monday, November 1, 2010

Making veggies more appealing

Jane Brody writes a widely-read column about practical health matters for the NY Times. Recently she asked readers to send in their ideas for how to get people to eat more veggies.
She wrote in a follow-up column that she received more than 600 emails on the topic.

Here is an excerpt from the column that summarized the responses.

Focus on Flavor

Never boil them,” Walter Jacobsen wrote. “Even if they’re frozen, I think they taste much better, are much crunchier, if sautéed in a flavored oil.” A popular refrain: “What’s wrong with a little fat — olive oil or butter — to make vegetables more palatable?” As some noted, if you reduce the meat portion and buttered bread, there’s ample caloric room for some oil or butter — even pancetta or bacon bits — to season the vegetables.

A very popular idea was a vegetable-rich soup (I used to purée the vegetables my boys rejected on sight), perhaps with tiny meatballs, chicken cubes or seasoned tofu. Consider making a big batch to eat for a few days, perhaps freezing some (labeled and dated) for another day. My lunch the other day was split pea soup that I’d made and frozen in 2008. Beneath it I found turkey and cabbage soup I cooked last year.

Many readers suggested my own favorite: stir-frying vegetables in a little olive oil seasoned with garlic, onion, shallots or balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Another of my favorites: grilling vegetables, which can be done on the stovetop in a ridged grill pan as well as on a barbecue grill.

Roasting vegetables, either individually or mixed, in the oven or toaster oven was another popular suggestion. Cut the vegetables into approximately equal sizes, toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper or herbs, and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they reach the desired texture.

Roasted kale crisps for snacks were mentioned often. Margaret P. Mason suggests spreading a single layer of kale pieces on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 375 to 400 degrees. Turn them after about five minutes, making sure they don’t burn.

Juiced vegetables were frequently mentioned, too. Chester Chanin thinks restaurants should offer “appealing fresh vegetable juices as a complimentary side drink before the meal arrives.” I’ll drink to that!

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