The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults and kids (ages 8 and up) consume 2½ cups daily of a variety of vegetables. But a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report revealed that fewer than 10 percent of Americans achieve this. According to the CDC, a plant-heavy diet has been shown to reduce the risk of everything from type 2 diabetes and obesity to cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.
So how can you get your family to eat more veggies? Try these ideas to infuse your vegetable offerings with fun, flavor and flair.
When cooking veggies, remember the flavor balance of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami [savory],” says David Fischer, a career sous chef and protégé of James Beard award-winning chef Colby Garrelts. “If you hit three out of the five flavor profiles, your mouth will water.
For full flavor, Fischer recommends cooking brussels sprouts the way his mom did: Roast sprouts until tender; then finish in a pan with butter or olive oil and Parmesan. For more umami, add bacon or crushed, toasted hazelnuts.
Aside from roasting crispy kale chips, Fischer’s favorite cooking method is to sauté the greens with butter, onions and garlic. At the end, add salt and pepper, plus a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to broaden the flavor profile.
Recipe: Spicy Kale Chips.
A tasty, hands-on treat. Steam artichokes for an hour, or until tender. Serve in a bowl, pull off leaves, and dip in melted, salted butter or mayo. Bite down on a leaf, and pull it through your closed teeth to remove the flesh. After you’ve finished the leaves, scrape off the choke, or the fuzzy part, to get to the heart.
Recipe: Artichoke, Leek and Potato Soup.
Polenta fries are a good french-fry alternative, says Fischer. Add milk or stock to finely ground cornmeal in a pot, and stir until thickened. Spread mixture on a sheet pan, and cool in the fridge. Cut into shapes, sprinkle with cornmeal, and fry in avocado oil. Serve with a roasted red pepper aioli, made by blending roasted red pepper, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Swap out noodles for vegetables with spaghetti squash. Roast a spaghetti squash, scoop out the middle, and serve like a taco with beans, sautéed vegetables and cheese, or with a marinara sauce and fresh basil.