I'd call myself a foodie. I take full advantage of the many splendid restaurants that surround me here in New York City; I enjoy seeking out new ingredients and sharing favorite recipes with family and friends. But there's one big obstacle that's always complicated my relationship with food: I really just don't like vegetables.
This bothers me because 1) I know my diet can and should be healthier (I am certainly not eating the 2.5 cups of vegetables per day recommended by MyPlate) and 2) it's simply embarrassing to me that, at age 26, I regularly push things around my plate like a restless kid waiting for dessert.
I don't blame my parents for this -- far from it. My mom, who worked in a New York City restaurant kitchen before I was born and is a skilled, enthusiastic cook, made balanced and imaginative meals for us nightly throughout my childhood. (I know -- lucky us!) She and my dad are both adventurous eaters, and my sister isn't afraid of vegetables. But alas, here I stand. I hated broccoli as a 10-year-old, and I still hate it today.
Do some people genuinely LIKE these foods? I wonder. Or are they just more disciplined when it comes to making choices? Could someone really crave kale the way I crave a chocolate-chip cookie?
In the spirit of honesty, I'll pause and admit that I do not truly hate all vegetables. There are some I tolerate, or even like, and I try to incorporate them into my cooking as much as I can. It's partly down to texture -- the sliminess of cooked spinach and scratchiness of broccoli florets make me gag, while sweet potatoes, beans and carrots have firmer, more familiar consistencies. The "subgroup" of vegetables I most despise is "dark green." But even a vegetable I "like" would rarely be my first choice for a meal, snack or side dish.
Here's a general rundown. And yes, some of these are technically fruits -- I'm going with a casual definition here:
Vegetables I Find Deeply Disgusting
Vegetables I Hate
Corn, in any form other than by itself (corn should never, ever go on pizza)
Vegetables I Tolerate
Celery (NOT in mayonnaise-based salads)
Vegetables I Like
Corn on the cob
Onions (OK, who doesn't like onions?)
Are there worse problems in the world than my not liking vegetables? Yes. Obviously. Too many to count. But I know for a fact that many of my peers share these sentiments, and as I was food shopping one night last week, I decided it was about time to start being more intentional in my cooking and eating choices. It's still January, so I'll call it a resolution. Starting right now, I'm looking for simple, tasty, inexpensive recipes to help me appreciate these ingredients for what they are (I'm not interested in "hiding" them in dishes I already like) -- and maybe change my habits. Or not. I'll share the results of my cooking experiments on HuffPost Taste, and I'll be honest if I still hate some of these ingredients after giving them a real try.
I'll be asking for lots of help -- from family, friends, chefs I admire, and you in the comments. If following along with my experiments is helpful to you, I hope you will! To start, if you have a recipe you think I should try, please share it below. I'll be tackling broccoli first, in my next installment.