Intuitive Eating, Videos

How to Get Yourself to Crave Vegetables (and how I went from hating veggies to loving them)

For most of my life, I HATED vegetables. But over the last few years, I’ve turned into a vegetable enthusiast. I often even enjoy them raw with nothing on them. (I can be seen biting into a plain beet or cauliflower, and even having plain arugula, on a regular basis…)

In today’s video, I go over how I went from hating to loving vegetables, and how you can too! Featuring the results of scientific studies (citations below).

Here’s a link to the video page, or you can watch it below:

Subscribe to my Youtube channel to stay updated on future videos 🙂

Links mentioned in the video:

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,033 other followers

As a kid, I HATED vegetables. My parents wouldn’t let me leave the dinner table until I finished my meals, and I often opted to sit for hours rather than eat my salad.

I only started eating vegetables in my undergrad years out of desperate attempts to lose weight, and even then I still didn’t actually like them. They felt more like a punishment.

I started to somewhat enjoy them about 6 years ago when I started eating a high carb low fat diet, and noticed that some foods (like sushi bowls) just happened to taste better with vegetables. And then ~5 years ago I magically started to find salads somewhat enjoyable rather than boring torture. (It also helped that I learned how to make vegetables more exciting with better recipes!)

And then, about 2 years ago, I started completely focusing on intuitive eating instead of following any diet. I stopped caring about weight loss, and started caring about having a healthy relationship with food. I just ate whatever I craved, whenever I wanted to.

And inexplicably, a huge chunk of the time, what I naturally craved was (and is)… VEGETABLES!

Now that I was fully eating according to my cravings, I could see just how much I craved healthy food. And I noticed I naturally stopped liking sugary or hyperpalatable things as much.

Now I can down this entire jar of my pickled veggies in a couple of days…

So how did I have such a dramatic shift in tastes?

Based on all the studies I’ve read on diet science, I have a feeling that it was because of gut bacteria.

First, we know that what we eat changes our gut microbiome, by changing the types and relative quantities of different types of bacteria. And those bacteria do a lot of our digesting for us. For example, studies show that eating more plants changes our gut microbiome to have more plant-digesting bacteria, which then makes us more efficient at digesting plants1.

Second, there is evidence that our gut microbiome can actually influence what we crave2, and even how much we eat3.

So what we end up with is a feedback loop where eating more vegetables changes your gut microbiome to have more veggie-loving bacteria, and those bacteria then make you crave more vegetables.

On the flip side, it can also be a vicious cycle, depending on the food: if you eat a lot of processed food, you get a gut full of processed-food-loving bacteria, which then makes you crave more of it.

The key is to get yourself into the cycle you WANT to be in. And to get into a vegetable-craving cycle, the first step is to just eat more vegetables. (A mix of both raw and cooked, ideally!)

I suggest doing this in the most palatable ways you can manage so that you’re not having to force yourself to eat them. You don’t want to associate vegetables with torture. For example, you can try hiding vegetables in other foods: add spinach to your smoothies, riced cauliflower to your normal rice, and greens in your chili. (If you want to get extra creative, you can add pureed mushrooms to soups, chilis, pasta, etc… that’s how I get my husband to eat them, since he hates their texture!) I have more suggestions in the video too.

And at some point, I bet you’ll naturally find yourself naturally liking vegetables even without having to hide or disguise them.

(Another tip: if you fall in love with vegetable gardening as much as I have, you’ll discover that vegetables are actually pretty magical 😛 )

Recipes

Easy Thai Red Curry Lentils (Vegan, WFPB)

In my neverending quest to find recipes that are quick & easy to make, super healthy, AND also budget-friendly, I’ve found that lentil-based recipes often check all those boxes. Especially for bulk cooking, which really cuts down on the time needed per meal.

These lentils may be one of my easiest recipes yet… especially considering how flavorful they are. I know it sounds unusual to use Thai curry paste with lentils, but they taste really good together. These lentils work well on their own as a stew, or paired with rice to make them last even longer.

(I will admit, I have made even faster meals on occasion: when I needed a 5-minute lunch to bring to work on especially busy weeks, I used to just toss lentils and rice in my rice cooker, and add frozen spinach and seasoning salt. But that’s not delicious enough to write a whole post about 😉 )

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry brown or red lentils, washed
  • 5 cups water
  • 15oz can coconut milk
  • 10oz bag frozen spinach
  • 10oz sliced mushrooms; I used frozen
  • 4 tbsp red curry paste (make sure it’s vegan–I use this kind)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the lentils and water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer until the lentils are soft and most of the water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
  2. Optional: sauté mushrooms in a separate pan with a splash of soy sauce (or water + salt) until they start to get tender. (If you don’t feel like sautéing them, you can just add the mushrooms raw in the next step)
  3. Stir in the coconut milk, frozen spinach, mushrooms, curry paste, and tomato paste to the pot with the lentils. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and it’s a curry-like texture, for about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve on its own or with rice, and enjoy!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,033 other followers

Recipes

Baked Bean Mac n Cheese Bowls (Vegan)

I’m working on building a repertoire of recipes that my more junk-food-vegan leaning husband loves and that fit in with my unprocessed preferences. They tend to take a little more effort, but are as delicious as junk food while also being healthy.

This recipe is our favorite hybrid so far. (In case you can’t tell, I generally only share my favorite recipes with y’all!)

It’s a southern-inspired feast that has 3 parts, and they go SO well together. It takes me about two hours to make, which isn’t bad given it results in 5 nights’ worth of dinner for two–and given it tastes as good as our favorite restaurant food and is packed full of veggies & beans. It also happens to be low fat, with the only overt fat being some cashews in the sauce.

Want to make it fat-free, and skip the macaroni? Try the baked beans + kale over a baked potato. That was actually the original version of this recipe for us!

(This recipe is for a bulk amount because feeding my 6’6″ bodybuilding husband with low-calorie-density food requires a LOT of food.)

Serves 8-12

Baked beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 4 cans navy beans, rinsed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add onion to a pot over medium-high heat, and saute for a few minutes until they start to get translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat, and add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into a 13×9″ pan, cover with tinfoil, and bake for 45 minutes.

Cheese sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I use soy)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Dash of cayenne (optional)

Directions:

  1. Boil the potatoes, carrots, and onion until tender.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add more salt and lemon to taste.

Pasta & Kale

Ingredients:

  • 24oz dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions
  • 32oz frozen kale (or use raw kale that is about 32oz when cooked)
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the kale and garlic to a pot over medium heat. Saute, stirring regularly, until the kale is tender. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
  2. Make the final bowl: put the macaroni in a bowl, top with cheese sauce, then baked beans, then kale, and enjoy! (And, possibly, become as addicted to it as we are)

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,033 other followers

Recipes

Vegan Black Bean Plantain Burger Recipe (WFPB)

Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of veggie burgers. Especially grain or bean-based burgers.

When I first went vegetarian 15 years ago, vegetarian burgers weren’t anything like they are today. Having to eat them at every school function or barbecue got a bit tiring, and I never found a very satisfying recipe for veggie burgers. Then the Beyond and Impossible burgers came on the scene, and since then I’ve pretty much just eaten those whenever I have a burger craving.

But, I love to eat whole food plant based (aka unprocessed food) most of the time. So I decided to try coming up with my own recipe that would be good and unique enough that it could have its own role at the table, besides just trying to replace a burger.

I went with a Caribbean vibe, and was inspired by empanadas since black bean & plantain are a match made in heaven when used in empanadas… so why not burgers? I also made an avocado lime spread for it, and the combo is so good that I actually enjoy just having the patty + spread at times, without a bun or anything.

Makes 4-6 patties

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 ripe plantain, sliced
  • 6 tbsp corn grits (or cornmeal)
  • 6 heaping tbsp whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Directions:

  1. Sauté plantain and red onion together over medium-low heat until plantain turns golden brown and onion begins to turn translucent.
  2. In a food processor, add all the ingredients and process until the mixture still has some small pieces remaining, but holds together well. If it is too dry to stick together easily (if you’re using more absorbent cornmeal, for instance), add a tbsp of water at a time until it sticks together.
  3. Form mixture into 4-6 patties about 1” thick. Sauté over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes per side, until they are lightly browned. Alternatively, you can put them in the oven at 375 degrees: bake 10 mins, then flip, then bake another 10 minutes, or until both sides are crispy.
  4. Top with avocado lime spread and your favorite burger toppings, and enjoy!

Avocado lime spread:

  • 1 avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp dried chipotle powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Mash together all the ingredients until it has a guacamole-like texture.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,033 other followers

Recipes

Vegan BBQ Chickpea Salad with Avocado Ranch Recipe (WFPB)

Something about planting seeds for my vegetable garden (which I’m starting this week!) puts me in a salad mood. Just imagining all the organic greens and veggies I’ll be harvesting in a few months makes me start craving fresh veggies right away!

My favorite salad ever is still my addictive Mexican-style salad, but this BBQ ranch one is a very close second. It’s easy, super healthy, totally versatile with any extra veggies you might want to include, and goes well with every type of green I’ve tried so far! (Especially mixed greens or romaine.)

Serves 2-3 as a full meal

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6-8 cups mixed greens (or romaine, or spinach)
  • 6 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2c finely diced red onion 
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1/2c barbecue sauce 
  • 1/2c halved cherry tomatoes (optional)

Avocado Ranch:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened non dairy milk (cashew milk preferable)
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Toss chickpeas with salt and paprika. Optional: air fry chickpeas for 10-15 mins at 350 degrees until crunchy, or bake in a single layer in the oven for 20-30 mins at 350 until crunchy, shaking occasionally. 
  2. Make the avocado ranch: mash the avocado together with all the other ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add more liquid as desired if you’d like a thinner texture.
  3. Rinse and drain greens, and add them to your salad bowl. Top with celery, red onion, corn, chickpeas, and any other veggies you’re using. 
  4. Then top with the barbecue sauce and avocado ranch, toss, and enjoy!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,033 other followers

Recipes

Quick Pickled Carrots and Red Onions Recipe

One of the biggest silver linings of quarantine for me has been discovering the wonder of making your own quick-pickled veggies. I am officially a pickle addict!

My new pickling habit has led to a massive, accidental increase in my veggie consumption. I find myself craving them all the time because they make a perfect snack or side for lunch, and the onions make a perfect topping for avocado toast.

Unlike canned pickles which require a canner and exact proportions, making quick pickles is super easy and flexible–you just stick them in your fridge and wait a few hours. I have been making these almost every week, and I usually eat half of them within the first day. They’re just too good!

You can also sub out pretty much any veggie you want, because the pickling broth is really versatile. I’ve tried adding cauliflower and red cabbage and loved it. You could also do cucumbers, jalapeños, green beans–just about anything!

Ingredients:

  • 5 large carrots, chopped into discs*
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 4 cloves sliced garlic
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)

* You can, of course, use any shape you want for the veggies!

Directions:

  1. Combine the vinegar, water, garlic and spices (so, everything but the veggies) in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, then remove it from heat. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Layer your chopped veggies into a jar. I suggest using a jar with a plastic lid, because the vinegar makes metal lids rust quickly. (You could also put clingwrap over the jar before putting the metal lid on)
  3. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the veggies. The liquid should be able to cover all the veggies–if there isn’t enough to submerge all of the veggies, remove some of them. Put the lid on, turn it over a few times to distribute the spices, and then store in the fridge.
  4. Wait 8+ hours, then enjoy! Keep them stored in the fridge and use them up within a few weeks–it shouldn’t be difficult to 🙂

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,033 other followers