Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: I Hate Veggies!

Q&A Wednesday: I Hate Veggies!

by Erika Nicole Kendall

How can you not like veggies?!

A half-done stir-fry... broccoli, yellow beans, carrots, pineapple... I like a little rice with my veggies, too!

Q: Do you have any suggestions for me and my STRONG dislike of veggies? The only cooked vegetables I like are greens and green beans….PERIOD! I like them with all the nutrients boiled out. There’s no way possible I can stomach eating other cooked veggies. I do like salads but, after a while it gets a little old. Sometimes I snack on celery sticks. Other than that, I have a hard time eating the recommended servings for veggies. I absolutely love fruit but, I try to keep it limited.

I’m always a little concerned when I hear that people are seriously pulling that elementary school game at the dinner table.. “I don’t like veggies! I don’t wannit!” complete with the poking out of the lip and folded arms. I mean, yeah, I might giggle at the image (especially if I know you personally) but the question is this:

If you aren’t eating vegetables, then what are you eating?!

Seriously! I’ve got to know.. if you’re not eating a vegetable at each meal, what are you eating for dinner? What are you having as a side for lunch? Since this is Q&A Wednesday and all I can do is make assumptions on the details surrounding your question… if you’re eating anything like I was, you’re probably eating pre-made processed foods and putting them together to make dinner. Lemme tell ya… that doesn’t count.

Veggies are probably the best and fastest way to fill yourself up. If I make a stir fry, yeah there’s rice in there… but its mostly vegetables… probably 3/4ths vegetables. (No, your nearest chinese food joint may not be able to say the same… rice is cheaper for them to get a hold of than vegetables.) The average serving of vegetables is well under a hundred calories, and paired with a few other awesome vegetables and maybe some rice and a little protein? You’re in there like swimwear… usually for under 400 calories.

What are your weight loss goals? Your current diet of not eating veggies, is that diet helping you to accomplish your goals? If not, I’d suggest… getting over it. No jokes, I promise.

If you’re someone who’s used to the taste of vegetables in an already-processed dish, and you suspect that this is why you don’t like veggies (because “they don’t taste that way when they’re in my soup/tv dinner/[insert other processed food item]”), then you have to really let it go. Our processed foods are chemically altered (think “monosodium glutamate” and “natural flavors”) so that our brains find the taste more appealing. What happens is that we start to develop unreasonable expectations for the food that comes straight up out of the ground, thus causing us to dislike the clean vegetables and crave the processed foods again. No good.

Treat vegetables as individual items with individual tastes that can serve individual purposes. I dispiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiised brussel sprouts until I just sucked it up and bought a bag of them frozen one day. I microwaved one little brussel sprout and bit into it expecting fire and brimstone to shoot out into my mouth, expecting to pass out and fall to my death through the ground and out to China… but I got nothing. I got a small, salty little cabbage-esque taste. That’s it. I even… liked it. Gross, right?

So now, I’ve got a bag of these little salty balls, and nothing to use them for. Never one to waste money, I started thinking long and hard about where I could stick ’em. One night, as I was making my rice for dinner, I decided to throw some chicken in a skillet, chop it up, throw some red peppers, pineapple, ginger, garlic and… chopped brussel sprouts. It was so yummy! I was proud of myself – not only did I learn to appreciate a vegetable I originally disliked, but I found a great recipe to use it in.

In all seriousness, this is another big reason why I keep shouting that you have to let go of processed foods… especially when they alter your perception of how a vegetable is supposed to taste. Stop coming to vegetables and having expectations of them. Treat veggies like bricks. By themselves you might not be able to do too much with them, but when used creatively can make beautiful houses. So try a new veggie today, and think of all the different random places you could sneak it in!

What veggie fears have you overcome? What veggies are you afraid of? Let’s hear it!

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Norn August 11, 2010 - 11:28 AM

roast brussell sprouts with some sea salt, garlic & a li’l olive oil, so they get crispy around the edges….THEY ARE GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!

Serenity23 August 11, 2010 - 12:06 PM

I was afraid of asparagus at one time, but once I had a friend come over and cook it, I trie it and loved it. Now I cook it all the time! I’m still afraid of eggplant, but I may try it soon.

Vee February 2, 2012 - 12:50 PM

I used to be the same way about asparagus now I love them. As a matter of fact I bought a fresh bunch from the grocery store this past Saturday and I will finish eating them tonight for dinner:)

I must admit eating fresh vegetables was not my ideal either but let’s face it as Erika stated it is essential. If we are not eating vegetables what are we eating.

Sarah August 11, 2010 - 12:23 PM

@ Original Letter Writer: You mentioned that you can’t stomach eating cooked veggies, but did some raw veggies. There are a lot of nice raw veggie-laden dishes that are out there. Try Googling for some of the raw food or general vegan/vegetarian recipe websites.

And, there are many ways to cook veggies: boil, fry, saute, roast, steam, etc. In many ways, the flavors of a single veggie can change radically depending upon how you cook it (example: a potato: boiled vs. roasted vs. steamed vs. fried).

As for salad boredom, I understand that! I have to have my salad every day, or else I just don’t feel right. But I also try to mix it up with toppings to make it fresh. One day it’s corn, peas, chickpeas, and cucumbers. The next day it’s radishes, carrots, tomatoes, and edamame. Sometimes there’s lettuce, sometimes spinach, sometimes cabbage, sometimes just plain brown rice or quinoa. There’s a great link over here re: expanding ideas of salads: http://www.salon.com/food/francis_lam/2010/07/23/creative_salad/index.html

Erika August 11, 2010 - 1:00 PM

Yes! I’ve got a post coming up on salads next week (whoops! That’s just between me and you LOL) to try to spice ’em up and keep ’em from feeling like you’re “eating like a rabbit.” LOL

J August 11, 2010 - 12:49 PM

For some reason I never liked sweet potatoes. After hearing all the hype about sweet potato fries I decided to try some in a kids meal at a restaurant. With some ketchup they weren’t bad at all. The next day I went out and bought a frozen bag of them and had that as part of my dinner.

I also didn’t like spinach. But I starting replacing lettuce with it in salads and on sandwiches. Now I’m at the point where I actually have wilted spinach on the side of my protein for lunch/dinner and I’m throwing it in my omelets/frittatas for breakfast.

A trick I sometimes use to sneak in my spinach is to top it with a few crumbles of a strong flavored cheese. The taste of the gorgonzola or blue cheese distracts my mind from thinking about the green leaves I’m chewing on.

Ella February 13, 2013 - 3:08 AM

Try throwing a handful or two of baby spinach in your smoothies. I PROMISE you don’t taste it. Great way to sneak in extra greens for yourself and family. 🙂

Cryssy August 11, 2010 - 2:08 PM

Since having my daughter I have increased my veggie intake, because she…..LOVES them! I know I still am like you really want peas with your dinner? They only veggie she doesn’t like is carrots and I think that is because of the texture.

The only “lettuce’ I like to wat are spinach leaves. They taste yummerific with everything I say all that to say… I had no idea what I was missing. There is so much you can do with a veggie…

I have yet to venture into eggplant but I am sure I will try it and I don’t like brussell sprouts

aisha August 11, 2010 - 2:42 PM

If that’s the case then the person shouldn’t force themsleves to eat them. Maybe they like fruits and can eat a lot of those. I think people have to make it work for them. I will never make myself eat anything that doesn’t taste good. Everyone has to find those healthy things that taste good and make themself feel good.

Erika August 11, 2010 - 4:22 PM

I simply don’t agree. People who don’t like “any” vegetables need to learn how to use them in ways that taste good. As many ways as there are to cook them, dress them or treat them… it makes no sense to cut off ALL kinds of veggies. That’s wild to me.

Linda August 11, 2010 - 3:34 PM

I am so glad I found your blog,such a cute and informative blog, I found this blog by voting for someone elses blog. Because of this blog I have slowly been making changes to my food habits, which means smaller portions and more veggies. I have the exercising down pack, the food has been a struggle. I’ve also made changes to what goes in my mouth, selecting less simple carbohydrates and eating more fruits and vegetables.With these changes I have lost 4 1/2 pounds.

Darlicia August 11, 2010 - 6:06 PM

I used to only eat a few, like broccoli, and it had to be covered in cheese “sauce.” But now, I realized eating many veggies al dente (with a little crunch) preserves the nutrients as well as the flavor. I like to roast my veggies (broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts) with the meat I’m cooking to add flavor. I never used to eat cooked spinach until I began to sautee it in chicken broth for added flavor. Just adding seasonings makes them taste better. Also combining with a fruit in a salad is delicious such as spinach, apple,red onion, tomatoes, with 1 oz of fresh goat cheese. I went from 1 veggie (corn) which doesn’t really count as a veggie to 6+ servings a day. My proudest moment was at a restaurant with my family, and the server asked my 10 and 14 y/o boys would they like fries or steamed broccoli with their meals, and they both responded, “broccoli!”

Liyah August 11, 2010 - 6:07 PM

I do not like peas, water chestnuts (it’s a texture thing) or asparagus(cooked or raw); cooked cauliflower and cooked carrots but I can and always eat the latter two raw or in stir fry (because they aren’t fully cooked). The ultimate veggie I dislike is a tomato. I have not liked this veggie since I was a child, I’m 32 now and even though I’ve tried repeatedly through the years to just take a little bite, I have not been able to do it. There is however a twist to this dislike. People always ask me, how do you eat salsa if you don’t like raw tomatoes? The twist is it doesn’t taste like the raw tomato you’d place on a sandwich because it’s blended w/ other items and it has to be homemade for me to eat it. I do not eat store bought salsa (that goes for restaurants that serve it as well). I can make pasta with pesto and chicken and add tomatoes as long as they’re cooked down and blended in with the other ingredients. Folks have “suggested” I try eating them with salt n pepper, vinegar, italian dressing, even fresh basil, olive oil and mozzarella but it’s a no go everytime. I cannot get around the taste of that particular veggie/fruit when it’s raw.

soleilchocolat August 12, 2010 - 12:04 AM

“People who don’t like “any” vegetables need to learn how to use them in ways that taste good.”

So true! The reason why I don’t like some veggies is because I was a picky eater as a child and didn’t give them much of a chance. As an adult, I’m learning to play with different spices to make them taste good. For instance, when I was little (actually, up until a few months ago), you couldn’t get me to eat black beans. Now, with some paprika, red pepper, garlic, and vinegar, I can’t eat chicken without them!

Btw Erika, I am loving your blog! I stumbled across it in perfect timing because I am starting my weight loss journey. It keeps me inspired to keep going even on those days that I mess up and eat sweets with every meal. My favorite part of the blog are your recipes. (I actually tried the Lazy Girl’s Pizza and my brother and I devoured it.) Thank you so much for sharing your knowlegde and experience with us!

Amber August 12, 2010 - 9:01 AM

I realize that alot of people do not like certain or all veggies because they were not introduced to certain veggies early on. Growing up, my mom was a vegetarian. I was introduced to lots of vegetables that I perhaps would not know about now if she was not a vegetarian. I recall sometime ago making an eggplant parmesan for my family’s dinner and my husband immediately said that he did not like eggplant, but really he had never had it. When he tasted it, he actually liked it said that it was not too far off from lasagna. EXACTLY! I say all of this to say, try various veggies. Like another commenter said, you can bring alot of flavor out of a veggie depending on how it is cooked, seasoned and prepared. Just have some fun and experiment with it.

Ladi Ohm August 12, 2010 - 2:45 PM

I’m still and will always be afraid of carrots and sweet potatoes… no matter how I try them, I just can’t stomach them. It’s weird to me because I can eat my weight in other veggies… ah well.

BlackBerry Molasses August 13, 2010 - 12:30 PM

There’s another way to sneak veggies in on yourself. Combine them with fruit. My husband and I were gifted an amazing industrial strength blender when we got married and that was it for us. All SMOOTHIE ERRYTHANG!
We have been known to throw carrots, cucumbers, broccoli and even raw spinach in with strawberries, mangoes, bananas, etc. Its often that one of our smoothies gives us about 2 full servings EACH of fruits and veggies.

And as a rule we never add any artificial sweetener other than honey, if we must. I often throw plain yogurt with live cultures in because… well, its every woman’s duty. And it lends creaminess.

I generally like vegetables and always have… They’re so much fun to play with in recipes. I recently added raw baby spinach to my pesto blend– it was SPECTACULAR! I’m now looking for more exotic ones at Asian and Farmer’s markets

Zee June 1, 2011 - 10:35 PM

I stated doing the same thing when I realized I wasn’t getting enough raw fruits and veggies. Making a smoothie somehow makes it easier.

Randi August 16, 2010 - 10:40 AM

Oh man I love veggies. All types!

Only ones I can’t get with are beets & cooked kale. I have tried beets so many different ways and I just cannot get into them at all. Someone recently suggested I try kale raw since I didn’t like it cooked. I am willing to give it another chance.

Erika August 16, 2010 - 10:47 AM

I have to tell you, I am a lover of raw kale. I use it as my leaves in my salad frequently.

I really do think you just have to realize that certain veggies only serve you a proper purpose in certain contexts. For me, I use beets when I’m baking with chocolate. I use kale in my salads and occasionally as kale chips. It took me a while to figure out a good use for zucchini, and now I’m experimenting with squash. It’s all about context. If my only experience with green beans was casserole, I might not like them… but they work wonders in my stir fry, ya know?

Just gotta get a little adventurous! 🙂

milaxx April 27, 2011 - 10:45 AM

If you want to try beets try buying golden beets and roasting them with yukon gold potatoes. The golden beets taste less like dirt, which is what beets taste like to me and mixed with the potatoes are actually a pretty good side dish.

Gail August 27, 2010 - 10:22 AM

It’s not just vegetables for me. It’s nuts, most fruits, different milks, cottage cheese, whole grain rice, u name the healthy food and I can’t stand it seriously. This is not my inner child talking either. When the aforementioned food goes into my mouth I start to salivate or I chew it for 15 minutes because I can’t stand the smell, texture or taste! For awhile I took vegetable and fruit supplements from a health food store and literally that was the best feeling my body had in a long time. But it didn’t last because those pills were expensive. At any rate, the healthy parts of my day is the load of water I drink and the hair vitamins I take. There must be some way to get my eating healthy….right??

Erika August 27, 2010 - 12:38 PM

It sounds exactly like your inner child talking. The very things on which your body is meant to thrive.. you reject. Why? Because it’s so easy to get something in a box that’s engineered to your liking, with nothing to actually help you live and survive within?

You’re going to have to bite the bullet, boo. Find ways to cook veggies that you actually enjoy, stop expecting them to taste like the engineered crap and find ways to use different tastes to compliment other tastes. Learn to appreciate the different textures as opposed to the crap that all congeals into one big mass in your mouth. *shrug* Just do it.

Adalia March 18, 2011 - 3:26 PM

I will be 36 next week and I have never eaten fruits or vegetables. I do not like the taste. I’ve tried lots of fruits and vegetables and have not found any that don’t taste bad.

A typical day looks like this:
Breakfast – oatmeal w/ peanut butter
Lunch – peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread
Dinner – whole wheat pasta, marinara and grilled chicken
Snacks – raw almonds

Erika Nicole Kendall March 18, 2011 - 5:52 PM

Do you really think you can live – forever – like that?

Do you admit that you’ve been spoiled by processed foods to think that things should taste a certain way, even though they don’t ever taste that way in real life?

Or should you simply accept that the way you’ve been conditioned to appreciate taste isn’t appropriate at ALL, and you need to just let go of this silly “I don’t like vegetables or fruits” mentality and start figuring out how to make things taste better as you cook them?

Because I’m sorry… but there’s no way in the WORLD I could EVER live off of grains and nuts, which is pretty much ALL you’ve shown me here.

milaxx April 27, 2011 - 10:41 AM

Forgive me for asking, but how do you poop? That seems like a pretty binding diet.

milaxx April 27, 2011 - 10:40 AM

Once I decided to become a true vegetarian as opposed to a semi vegetarian/semi junk atarian, I decided to expand my vegetable repertoire. I would go to Whole Foods or the local Asian market and buy a small portion of a vegetable I had never tried before. Then I would bring it home and play; boil a bit, roast a bit and taste. Next step was finding recipes for them. Pleasant surprises were celeriac aka celery root and brussel spouts. Celery root taste like Thanksgiving to me. Th
at’s the best way to describe it because it taste best (for me) with nutmeg and five spice as seasonings. Brussel sprouts was another childhood food that I realized I disliked only because of how my mother cooked or overcooked. I realized I love roasted brussel sprouts or even how they taste still green and crunchy in a stir fry.

Bottom line is you have to experiment and allow yourself to truly taste the veg in order to learn to love them.

Denise April 27, 2011 - 10:55 AM

Seriously, Erika…

Are you over there pulling your hair out because I am! NO VEGGIES AT 36??? Is she fahreal?

I SO wanted to comment but I have no idea how to do it without sounding like I’m being judgmental or sounding preachy. Because I am. With something as simple as this. I have to be. Does she (and your other non-veggie eating readers) ever plan on having kids? How…better yet Will they make their kids eat vegetables? How does that work because ‘do as I say, not as I do’ can only go but so far…? What does her skin look like? What does her body look like? Does her breath smell? Never eating veggies can JAM YOU UP! I know I’m preaching to the preacher…forget the choir…but I’m the only one in my office & I can’t vent to my stupid boss. I’m so blown by the original letter & the ones who don’t eat veggies.

My thing is: if I know it’s good for me, I’ll fake it til I make it. I’ll find ways to stomach it somehow (heck yeah, the pun was intended). I’m not a fan of bananas but I eat them anyway because of P & P (potassium & portability!) I can’t say that I’ll ever love them but I know that I’m healthier for it. I’ll be 39 soon, I’m too young to die because of something that I have total control over.

And yes, I’m a vegetarian. Well…a pescetarian.

Zee June 1, 2011 - 10:32 PM

I wanna mention that, in some cases, not liking vegetables is something that can be outgrown with some effort and, in other cases, it reflects some kind of intolerance or maybe even an allergy. So folks are best advised to pay attention to how their body responds when they eat a particular vegetable. Some folks do not have the capacity to digest particular foods, and, if that’s the situation, then they will react negatively to those foods.

While we’re on the subject, I have heard people speak of reacting to eggplant and other foods from the nightshade family.

Erika Nicole Kendall June 2, 2011 - 7:06 AM

An allergic reaction to ALL vegetables?

Tonya January 25, 2013 - 5:00 AM

Zee made a comment that apllies to me with certain foods, since my childhood I’ve had violent reactions to certain foods, eggs, most beans, and a long list of cooked veggies. These foods would have me vomitting when my mom tried to feed them to me starting at age 1,( couldn’t take the jarred veggies either) so long before I’d ever had processed foods introduced into my diet I couldnt eat these foods. We did find later on around age 4 or 5 I’m allergic to certains beans,(pinto, black eye peas, and red beans) but what gives with the other foods? I’m 34, I’ve never been able to eat eggs since the age of 1 and most cooked veggies (gag reflex works over time) any Ideas on how to get past a life long issue? Mind you this isn’t a habbit, this is how it’s ALWAYS been for me. It’s my bodys natural reaction…

Milaxx June 1, 2011 - 10:46 PM

I guess it helps to be a vegetarian, but I love veggies. My latest new veg was fiddlehead ferns. i saw them on a few cooking shows and wanted to try them. SO I bought a pint, googled how to cook them and tried it. They are funny looking, but tasted pretty good. I would love to buy more, but these bad boys ain’t cheap and I am on a budget. Still it’s another new food I know I like.

Stacy June 22, 2011 - 7:49 PM

I really needed this article. I just so happen to be one of those ones that even in my late 20s don’t like cooked veggies. I even heard stories from my mom about how I never ate them as a child. I would eat raw baby carrots here and there but that’s about it.Cooked greens of any kind scares me just because of how it looks and smells. But you are right, I do need to get over that fear of eating them. Thanks for the tips!

Lisa June 22, 2011 - 9:56 PM

When I met my husband he made it clear to me that he did not like spinach. That is until one day I decided to make it for him and I did not tell him it was spinach until after he ate the first bite. He could not believe that he had just eaten a vegetable that despised. Come to find out, he didn’t like spinach because his mother would overcook it. I don’t know if anyone else said this but sometimes you have to try it different ways. When it comes to vegetables I say unless you are allergic you should never say never…

icwatudid June 29, 2011 - 7:46 AM

I don’t think this is that far-fetched since MOTHER always overcooked her veggies and didn’t season them with much… greens were cooked in unmentionable pig parts…. broccoli was slathered in cheese…

I didn’t realize this until my adult years: I thought I always hated carrots until I had a FRESH one. The crap you have in processed pot pies and cup noodles is just that… crap. My hypothetical kids won’t be experiencing this.

Vee February 2, 2012 - 12:53 PM

Another thing I have tried is cooking my collards and green beans in with smoke turkey meat (turkey necks and or turkey wings) in my vegetables. It is way better than beef and pork.

Gail August 29, 2012 - 9:14 PM

I don’t think she should eat them if she doesn’t want to eat them. Part of us being big girls means we make decisions and we live or die with the consequences.

I can’t think of any veggies I won’t/don’t eat. I couldn’t live without eating them…but that’s me.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 29, 2012 - 10:20 PM

Sure. Emphasis on “or die.”

RK MacBride September 17, 2012 - 12:59 AM

Regarding the people who say they don’t eat ANY vegetables, or the one who doesn’t eat anything but grains and nuts — don’t take this as a flame, but…

1) How do you avoid having scurvy?

2) How can ANYBODY on God’s green earth think that ripe juicy August peaches, or June strawberries, taste bad? I can’t get my head around that. Humans have been eating fruit for millennia…

lunanoire November 22, 2012 - 2:38 AM

@ RK MacBride

1) There is a lot of processed food with citric acid in it because it’s a preservative. It’s even in juice these days with so 120% vitamin C-per-serving beverages.

2) Ripe fruit in season is a gift from God. Orange is a flavor, not a color. It’s easy to get used to processed food

Shira December 29, 2012 - 9:43 PM

The list of raw vegetables that I like are limited to peas and spinach. Also, I only really like the following fruit – grapes, green apples, pineapples (I love pineapples), oranges, starfruit, pomegranates and raisins. However, over the last 2 years I’ve learned to eat other fruits and vegetables by combining them with other foods. Berries are too tart for me but I am them to iced teas, oatmeal and yogurt which allows me to get the health benefits and tone down the overpowering tastes. I add peppers, spinach, onions and mushrooms to eggs. I’ll never be a vegetarian but my body is certainly happy with the additions.

Bebe June 21, 2013 - 7:53 PM

I used to think I was a hardcore veggie hater. Then I realized that it was mostly things like raw carrots and broccoli that I really hated. So I learned to get creative. My weekly vegetables include grilled eggplant with cheese and marinara sauce, garlic mashed cauliflower, stove top fried sweet potatoes, and scrambled eggs with mushrooms and pepper. Also, since you like fruit, try an arugula/spinach salad with blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries topped with a honey champagne dressing.

Charey July 3, 2013 - 12:31 PM

I love veggies and I cook them at home with no help from anyone else. Meaning I can’t call home and ask my mom to start steaming the broccoli because she will steam them until they are mush. Or she will boil green beans to death. I’ve become known as the veggie nazi! Border line flipping out when things are about to be overcooked. lol One trick I learned though: I’m usually grossed out by overcooked veggies so when it does happen I take the water (which is where all the nutrients go when you over cook veggies) from the steamer or pot and save it and make my own stocks for flavoring other foods. Usually a little old bay and or olive oil will make those reductions taste great.

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