Have you ever heard the saying “you eat with your eyes first”? Think about how true this. You may not have food on your mind at all and then all of the sudden as you are minding your own business you scroll past an ad on Facebook of some delicious, gooey, chocolatey, fresh out of the oven brownies. (Sorry, now I’ve made you want brownies.) Now that you’ve seen that brownie, you’ve got brownies on the brain!
A thought crossed my mind the other day. Why is it that we spend so much time making a dessert look beautiful or adding all the right touches to a main dish, but we treat a healthy veggie side dish so plainly? No wonder veggies seem boring and unappealing! Veggies need all the tender love and care we give our other foods plus some extra for all the care they give back to us! When you dress up your side salad to be more than just lettuce with light dressing it can become a delicious player in the meal instead of a side lined after thought.
Now I know, sometimes you don’t have time or energy to put more thought into your meal planning and your veggie side dish will be plain steamed broccoli, but it doesn’t have to be all of the time! Making veggies more extravagant doesn’t have to be well… extravagant either. I’ll give you a few simple tips of how to dress up your healthy sides and make them more appealing. Wouldn’t it be nice if you craved healthy foods as much as you did junk food?!
1. Plate pretty- sometimes when you’re hungry you don’t care at all, but if you can spare an extra minute, plate your food with a little flare. Have fun with it! I have realized that when I take pride in the meal I make and put my food on my plate with thought and care I really enjoy my meal more. I take more time to enjoy my meal and end up feeling more satisfied with it.
2. Spice it up- herbs and spices are a veggie’s best friend. Experiment with different combinations if you feel comfortable. If you need some spice and herb creativity help, search online. There are a ton of recipes floating out there. Ex.- search: “how to season steamed broccoli” or “healthy broccoli side dishes.”
3. Texturize- tempt your tongue with varying textures. Close your eyes and picture this. A bed of lettuce topped with dressing. Blah blah blah boring. Now close your eyes and picture this. A bed of lettuce mixed with soft baby spinach greens, crisp and thinly sliced cucumbers, and sweet, ruby red sliced strawberries. Sprinkled with sweet toasted chopped pecans and lightly dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette. Mmmmm! That sounds like a salad I would eat any day! Think of all the varying textures that play a part in the second salad. The combination of opposite flavors and textures come together to make what my family would call a “mouth party.”
4. Marry your veggies to your main dish- “and the two shall become one…” Veggies can make really great partners. They’re very versatile and can be used so many ways. One of my favorite ways to make a meal more filling and flavorful is to add some vegetables to the actual main dish plus a veggie side dish. I love a super filling meal that doesn’t affect the scale negatively.
5. Vary your cooking methods- roast, grill, sauté, steam… It’s easy to get hung up on one cooking method. I love how changing how it’s cooked impacts the flavor and texture. Try grilling thin strips of zucchini, or roasting asparagus on a baking sheet tossed in olive oil. Mm, those are some of my favorites.
Honestly, I have always loved vegetables. It’s never been hard for me to eat them and to eat a lot of them. I joke that I am a rabbit when I start counting how many whole vegetables I eat by myself in a week. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone. This is why I have provided you with these tips. Try them out and keep incorporating vegetables daily. I promise you can learn to love and appreciate the foods that will love you back!