Okay, I get it: You want to eat healthy, but you just don’t like the taste, consistency or really anything else about those foods considered “healthy.” You’ve tried again and again, and you manage to swallow down an occasional salad, but you just don’t know how you’re going to replace some the foods you love when the alternatives are so…well, unappealing. Research has already shown us that the foods we tend to love are those high in sugar, fat and salt. The taste, consistency and combination of flavors and textures are irresistible to most of us. Unfortunately, these are also the foods responsible for most Americans being overweight. And, as many of us know first-hand, when we’re overweight, the last thing we want to do is exercise, so we comfort ourselves with the foods we love. It’s a vicious cycle, particularly when healthy foods are so boring and “uncomforting.”I get all of this - I really do - and I’ve been through it myself. This week’s blog is dedicated to all of you who don’t like to eat your vegetables, fruit or fish. Below are my top tips for actually enjoying some of these foods instead of choking them down. I have been where you are, and this is what I do on a regular basis to make sure I am including the right foods along with my occasional cheat treats.1. Disguise it with other foods. Everybody gets excited at the mention of dessert, even if they don’t know whether it will be cookies, cake, pie, etc. But very few people get excited when they hear vegetables mentioned. The trick is not to focus on the fact that you are about to eat vegetables; instead, focus on what you’ll be eating them with.Try disguising your vegetables among other foods. Pasta, for example, is a great food to mix with vegetables. And pasta is not bad for you, as long as you eat it in moderation and not every day. Stir-frying your vegetables with your protein (chicken, steak, pork, tofu) also helps the vegetables take on the flavor of the other food and makes it much easier to eat. 2. Use your blender. Nothing disguises what you’re eating more than a blender. You’d be amazed at what I’ve eaten and not minded it, all because I blended it in with other things. Most of the time you hear of fruit smoothies, but did you know you can also throw in vegetables? Absolutely. One of the complaints that a lot of people have about certain vegetables is that they taste bland. This actually works in your favor in a blender since the other ingredients will most likely dominate the overall taste. Try blending spinach, kale or other leafy greens in with yogurt, blueberries and a banana. Sounds gross, but it’s actually very good and you will have just covered 3-4 servings of fruit in one surprisingly delicious drink. And don’t forget about V-8 juice, which offers a full serving of fruits and vegetables in each 8 oz. glass.3. Try different ways to cook the same food. Several years ago a friend of mine introduced me to kale, one of the world’s healthiest foods. When she saw that I didn’t like it in my salad, she made me “kale chips”: pieces of kale spread out on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil and a little salt, and baked at 200 degrees until crisp. When I tell you that kale chips taste very much like potato chips, you wouldn’t believe me, but I swear it's true. They are absolutely delicious. Today, kale is my friend, and can be yours too, with a little creativity.You can bake other vegetables as well, and you can also grill, boil, steam, sautee, broil and fry your vegetables. Like butter? Sautee some broccoli or green beans in butter and almond slivers. Like salt and spices? Try some Mrs. Dash or Grill Mates spices on your vegetables. You can find these in the spice aisle at the supermarket, and they come in a variety of flavors. My favorite is Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple - yum! Like sugar? Add a maple or honey glaze to your carrots or sweet potato. Don’t worry about adding a little fat, salt or sugar to your vegetables if that will get you to eat them. Trust me; the benefit far outweighs a handful of extra calories.4. Don’t be afraid of sauce! One of the tricks I often use is adding a low-fat sauce on my vegetables and fish. I’m not a big fish fan, but wild Alaskan salmon is one of the best sources of protein and omega-3 out there. I also eat a lot of tuna fish (packed in water, not oil) by mixing it with guacamole. For vegetables, I keep plenty of packets of hollandaise and béarnaise sauce available, both of which are delicious on both vegetables and fish.Keep in mind that you can also marinate vegetables just as you would meat or poultry. I keep several packets of Grill Mates marinade (my favorite is garlic and herb) in my cupboard and I substitute vegetable oil with olive oil. My vegetables have no lack of flavor whatsoever, and I often crave them over more unhealthy options.5. Don’t forget to reward yourself. Finally and as always, reward yourself for your effort to eat more healthily. Effort matters - it really does. The more you try, the better you will do and if you’re like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good healthy food can be. Don’t worry if you salt it up or always have to eat it with a sauce. The point is that you’re actually eating your fruits and vegetables! That’s more than a lot of folks can say. So do your best and reward yourself somehow for your progress.One last note about fruits and vegetables: fresh is always best, frozen is next best and canned is a last resort. Canned fruit and vegetables have lost the most nutrients, while fresh, raw fruit and vegetables have not been processed at all (just be sure to wash them well). Frozen varieties maintain the majority of their nutrients and taste quite good as well. And they obviously last a lot longer, so stock up your freezer with the best foods out there: broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, green beans, blueberries, strawberries, and mixed berries.While you’re at it, stock some fish in there as well: salmon (wild Alaskan or Atlantic —stay away from farm-raised, which is chock full of toxins), trout, cod and other kinds of fish. Tuna is also an excellent protein to have on hand in your cupboard.And then try out some of the tips I mentioned. You just might surprise yourself (and your mother, because chances are she had the same issue getting you to eat your veggies!). Happy eating!
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