Covert cooking: how do I sneak healthy food into my family’s diet?

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Diet Statue

Dakoma asks:

I have been trying to get back into good shape and am reading lots of health articles. My husband is a police officer and spends most of his time eating fast food and sitting in a car all day — it’s not the most active lifestyle. And while the Offbeat Empire promotes beauty in all its forms, I am concerned for our health.

I recently watched a really informative documentary called Forks Over Knives, which promotes whole food diets with little to no dairy or meats to avert and even in some cases reverse heart disease and some cancers.

My question is: how can I stealthily convert my husband’s diet and my teenaged picky sister’s diet to get them to eat healthy without knowing. You know… baby steps. AND! what are some good whole food protein substitutes aside from tofu?

Normally I’m not about tricking people into things, but in this case I think it is a valid, non-manipulative answer. I’m going to assume you’ve had some discussion with Mr. Dakoma about your concerns and he’s just not down with an improvement plan, for whatever reason.

My advice is: go ahead and start making changes for yourself if you haven’t already. Going from crap food to healthier food is hard, but make it easier by allowing yourself patience in changing your habits. Set a single goal at a time — “I’ll have an apple instead of candy for one snack today” or “I’ll take a walk at lunch time” and then, once you get those changes cemented you can add in harder ones like “I’mma cut out high fructose corn syrup in my non-snack foods.” And then “I’m going to focus on eating whole foods instead of processed foods as much as is humanely possible.”

I know; you didn’t ask about how to change your diet! The truth is this: If you change your diet, your family likely will, too. In the years since I moved in with my husband, we’ve leap-frogged each other over and over in diet adjustments — and we eat a loooooooot more healthfully than we did in the beginning of our relationship. When you live together, you’ve got to adapt to your partner’s diet. It’s so much easier.

If you can be successful in improving your habits for yourself, your family will come along somehow. Whether it’s because you are the main grocery shopper, or the main cook, or because you get pulled into research on nutrition and share what you find because you feel it’s interesting — people who are close to you will be influenced, and may decide to make their own changes as well.

If nothing else, frame it for yourself like this: you are absolutely a role model for your sister. Eat more better for her.

Oh, and non-tofu proteins? EGGS, baby. Vegan? Beans. Make it a treat with edemame. It’s like popcorn, but nicer to you!

Comments on Covert cooking: how do I sneak healthy food into my family’s diet?

  1. in the vein of baby steps – look at what you currently cook and how it can be adjusted. that is, instead of looking to completely new recipes (which may trigger alarms), look at new ingredients for old recipes, or different proportions for meals.

    maybe that means a legume-based pasta (has actual nutritional value) in plain old spaghetti. or maybe it is cooking steak and potatoes with increasingly smaller portions of steak.

    another non-sneaky thing is making food that tastes awesome. that takes some hit-and-miss, and will require that people at least try it, but i’ve introduced a lot of new foods to both kids and adults under the “you must try one bite, but you don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it” rule. the second half is important to reduce “i hate everything” backlash that comes from being forced to eat something. and some healthy food is freaking awesome (sweet potatoes, for example).

    • GOOD advice. Scott’s eyes narrow when I say I’m making something totally new. But if it’s just “mac and cheese but without gluten”, it’s a different story.

    • I agree completely! I’ll substitute ingredients, or at the very least add a side of veggies or a side salad. My husband is, thankfully, mostly open to my cooking experiments, but he doesn’t usually notice if I use, say, lower fat cheese for grilled cheese sammiches, and he was happy when pasta nights became pasta primavera nights. It still leaves room for lazy meals after a long day of work, but we eat a lot better than we used to.

      • Dressing up “healthier” as “jazzier” works in this camp, too.
        “Oh-my-gosh, honey, I made low-fat”…. “I am just gonna go to Wendy’s”.
        “Hey, I made a delish gouda grilled cheese on artisan bread and a creamy tomato soup!” ..”YUM!”
        He doesn’t need to hear all of the gory details about the preservative-free whole-grain gluten-free bread, the locally sourced gouda with a lower fat ratio than our favorite mozzarella, or (heavens, no!) the “creamy” tomato soup with no milk or cream. HE gets his old favorites dressed up for adults, and I get the satisfaction of knowing that ’til death do us part is getting a little further by the dinner.

      • Yes! Exactly what I was going to say– as a 20 year vegetarian I’ve developed a true love for lentils! Pretty much anything that calls for ground beef can be substituted, in both a texture and protein way (eg: chili, my mom’s version of beef stroganoff, vegi lasagna)! The key is to not overcook ’em.
        ps: in all that time I’ve yet to figure out how to love tofu 😉

  2. Here’s some random suggestions- pick one habit that seems easy to and work at it for the first month, rather than implement a ton of changes all at once.

    First of all, cook most of your meals, mostly from scratch if possible. You know exactly what is going in, and can add stuff to the cooking process. Try switching to healthier items that you use regularly (e.g., whole wheat pasta). I swear by white whole wheat flour for baking! Freeze extras for days you don’t want to cook.

    If you have the family’s buy in on eating more vegetables, but they think they don’t like the taste, I’d recommend substituting/adding vegetables into your standard dishes. I regularly add carrots or shredded zucchini to regular pasta sauce, with no change in taste. I put turnips in mashed potatoes, and you couldn’t tell the difference. With husband’s permission, I also periodically use the morningstar crumbles as a replacement for meat in a “meat sauce”, but don’t tell him. It’s only after the second helping that he asks if it’s real meat. Now that it’s cool, make soups, stews and pot roasts! It’s always a great way to add beans and other random vegetables into a meal.

    A more advanced method is to grow your own or get into a CSA- we finally joined one in our neighborhood, and my husband is more receptive (resigned?) to tasting the random greens I saute, because we’ve already paid for it and he doesn’t want to waste food. In fact, I’m making a new lentil and escarole (and sausage) soup tonight to get rid of the big bunch of greens in the fridge, and I’m sure he’ll eat it, even if he wouldn’t have chosen to order it in a restaurant.

    Also, pack lunches! We do a lot of leftovers in our house, and husband takes packets of organic instant oatmeal + raisins for breakfast at work.

    Put out something green/leafy before dinner each night. In the summer I buy a cantaloupe and watermelon each week, and cut it into individual containers, and we eat it exclusively for snacks every day.

    Edit: and now that I’m buying local meats which are much more expensive, I tend to buy less- less than 1 pound for the two of us (with several leftovers). I’ll reserve some of the meat + meal for lunch the next day so it’s not visually tempting us for seconds. I think I’ve cut down our meat consumption a lot this way. Chopping up meat in a dish also makes it seem like there is more than it actually is.

  3. I totally agree with all the suggestions so far. I have one thing that we tried recently that worked for me. I was starting to worry about our dessert consumption. Lots of ice cream, brownies, and coffee cake. I decided that for the month of October, I wouldn’t eat any desserts. This included candy, mints, and all the things I mentioned earlier. I stuck with it, and now I don’t need a dessert after every meal. It’s a small step, but I already feel better in my body. It’s the little things that make a big difference.

    • I did the same thing during October (my sweets consumption was over the top)! I’m going to try to keep it up and go one step further in November by eliminating sources of high fructose corn syrup. Not sure how I’ll do, but it’ll be interesting reading food labels.

    • Or, when you crave dessert, try some of these:

      I’ve done the low-fat cupcakes and black bean brownies, and NO ONE can tell they’re “healthy.” Seriously. My husband has his buddies over once a month for a Magic the Gathering geekathon, and I’ve made both. The boys won’t eat something they don’t enjoy, and the cupcakes especially always go (I made the brownies after they’d eaten a lot, but the few who did partake told me they were tasty).

      And I tried the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies recently-very good as well. Really, everything on this site is very good!

      • I am so guilty of dessert overload during the holidays, which my taste buds define as “any day with a temp of 0-55 degrees”. I am personally a pie maven, so I purchased exactly 6 crusts last month. Those are the only crusts to use for dessert purposes for the fall and winter, including the pies I make for family get-togethers. So far, I seem to have avoided the combined 15 pounds we put on by Halloween last year.

  4. Another way to get in healthy fruits & veggies is by juicing them. My husband and I bought a juicer this summer after watching the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. You don’t have to do something dramatic like a juice fast (though we did and were surprised by how much we liked it), but adding one or more cups of the juice a day in addition to your normal foods will really boost your nutrient intake. Plus, it tastes good – you should have seen the shock on my mother-in-law’s face when she tried broccoli, pear, and celery juice and actually liked it!

    • yes, but be careful buying juice at the store. processed juice, or even too much juice freshly made, can not take the place of actually eating fruits and veg. Our bodies process juice, especially non-pulpy ones, as sugar water. the beauty of fresh fruits and vegetables, chunky juices, and smoothies is that they have fiber and other goodies besides sugar.

      that said, i would MUCH rather see people getting too much fresh juice than all that damn soda!

    • I tried the juicing thing for a while and it was okay, but I personally couldn’t get over the mental thing of needing to bite into something. It just drove me nuts, it didn’t taste bad, and I wasn’t still hungry I just craved being able to bite into something, I couldn’t even do it for breakfast and lunch for a week. I stopped after five days. FAIL. on the plus side a couple of my friends with some health issues have recently taken it up. And are doing wonderfully on it.

  5. Fruit smoothies! They’re irresistible. Use fresh or frozen fruit (I like to keep a couple bags of frozen strawberries or blueberries or mango puree on hand), soy milk (or any other type of milk), yogurt (I like low-fat French vanilla, but you could also use plain) or fruit juice and toss it in a blender with some ice. If it’s not naturally sweet enough, you can add some honey or low-fat sweetener (although I usually just cave and use a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar).

    For some added health, you can even toss in some whey protein or wheatgrass or what have you. In my experience, when you hand someone a freshly made fruit smoothie, their reaction is more “YUM!” and less “What’s in this thing?”

  6. My first recommendation is quinoa. Its the only grain that’s a complete protein, it comes in a number of varieties, and its pretty easy to hide/incorporate into other dishes. My mother sneaks it into all sorts of foods. The restaurant I used to work at even put it in their grits.

    For your husband I would recommend making him sandwiches. The truth is, a homemade sandwich on whole grain bread with fresh veggies always tastes better than fast food. And if you’re using lean meats, its gonna be healthier, too.

    As for sneaking in veggies, start with the ones that taste like candy. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrot souffle. Also, they make pastas now that are fortified with protein (Barilla Plus) and veggies (Veggie Delight). I usually make my pasta dishes with a handful of each. Though I also second the above recommendation of finely dicing zucchini or eggplant to add to your pasta (or pizza!) sauce.

    How does your family feel about fish? If you can reduce the amount of red meat you eat but start by substituting with chicken and fish, they might not feel the impact so much.

    Your question was about diet, but you also mentioned that your husband is pretty sedentary. Any chance you could convince him to take a walk around the neighborhood with you in the evenings as couple time?

    • i <3 carrot souffle, but be careful with the recipe; mine calls for 3 CUPS of sugar and two sticks of butter! Not exactly a health food…. (but delish).

      • Yeah, mine uses honey and a lot of oil. I guess it depends on your goals when it comes to healthy heating. Is your primary goal to reduce calories or to increase nutrition (or, usually, both). Because it still has all the nutrition of carrots and if you’re feeding it to a skinny chick like me, those nutrients are a bigger deal than the calories. So it’s more of a possible recommendation for the picky teenager than the sedentary husband.

  7. These are all great suggestions! And kudos to you, Dakoma, for wanting to change your habits!

    If you are looking at adding veggies to meals without changing the taste you should look at the cookbook Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld. I received a copy as a wedding gift (I collect cookbooks). I haven’t made any of the recipes yet, but several have made it onto my list of recipes to try including chocolate chip cookies with chick peas. She has a newer cookbook as well.

    As for changing eating habits it helped me to find ethnic food that I liked and branch out from there. My husband is mainly a vegetarian (he eats fish) and I changed my eating habits to match his when we got married. I love Mexican food so instead of making the meals with beef I use black beans with lots of cumin powder and garlic. We have also started cooking curry dishes. There are several non-spicy curry powders available (my husband likes it hot and I don’t so he adds pickled mango to make his meal hotter). We shop at Penzeys Spices and I really liked their Maharajah Style Curry Powder (not spicy just flavorful).

    I would say that my main healthy eating plan is to be choosy about what comes home with me from the store. We can’t afford a lot of organic foods, but I can find food that doesn’t have a lot of chemicals added and is not very processed.

  8. Yes to all of the above as easy diet changes. Like others alluded to, you can start by blending the healthy and unhealthy stuff. For instance, I don’t make plain white rice any more. It takes no more effort to cook with with brown rice, quinoa, etc. in with the white and it tastes nearly the same as plain white. Mix meat with soy crumbles, use half margarine and half tasty real butter, mix your low-sugar/cal beverage with the real stuff. Make popcorn in an air popper instead of the microwave, switch to diet pop, put your chips in a small bowl instead of eating from the bag, and do what you can to cut down on the damage from snacktime.

    I was just reading yesterday that soups/stews are great places to sneak in new veggies. Try casseroles, chili, etc. for the same reason. A vegetable that we might not try if it’s hanging out on the side of our plate is much more palatable when blended into something we like.

    I have also tried to get my husband to eat better since I am more concerned with that than he is. It was tough when he had a driving-based job with no time to eat, though, so I can sympathize with your partner. One thing that has helped is that I pack his lunches. My husband doesn’t like cooking and will always opt for fast food or frozen lunches (which are not all terrible) if it’s up to him. If I cook and pack the meals, though, he will eat them. One thing that helped my husband was to make it a budget goal, not just a health goal. He was more interested in saving money by not hitting the drive-though every day than saving calories.

    I’ve also found that we both eat better when the food is easy to grab. If I leave a head of lettuce sitting in the fridge, it might go bad before we prepare and eat it. But if I keep it cut up and stored in portion-size containers, we’ll grab it. So try to get in the habit of washing and slicing your produce right away when you buy it. Same with cooking: when you have healthy leftovers, put them in lunch containers rather than refrigerating in one big pan. Keep fruit on the counter and tuck the pan of brownies out of sight. If the healthy stuff is easy to grab and eat and the junk food is tucked away, you’ll lean more towards the healthy food.

    • Careful with the diet sodas, I read somewhere that the artificial sweeteners, while lower in calories, can reduce your bodys ability to signal to your brain that you’re full, so it’s easier to accidentally over-eat….. Being a diet coke adict, and havingno trouble eating alot more than i know i should, i’m inclined to believe that’s true.

  9. I second Anie on the quinoa–SO many uses! My fave is just the cook it like rice with veggie broth and some soy sauce and eat it with roasted veggies. Yum. Which leads me to… I’ve found that most veggies taste better roasted than prepared any other way. Roasting brings out the sweetness that may tempt your husband and sister. Just toss in the oven at 425 after you spray them with olive oil and shake some salt and garlic powder on top. Bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini–all are excellent roasted.

    Tofu is great, but you mentioned you already know about that one. Have you tried seitan? It’s fairly expensive to buy, but costs only pennies to make. All you need is vital wheat gluten, broth, olive oil and seasonings. Seitan has more of a hearty, chewy taste as opposed to tofu. Much more like actual meat. Also, most grocery stores are now selling imitation beef or chicken bullion, and you can use these to sub in any recipe that calls for real meat stock. They taste the same! Try the Better Than Bullion brand if you can find it, sold in a jar rather than cubes. That is my very favorite vegan blog ever. The writer has young children so he has a lot of recipes that sneak in veggies. He also has a bajillion variations on seitan: hot wings, sausage, lunch meat, holiday roasts. He also makes a lot of indian and ethiopian recipes, which are easy to make once you buy the right spices and usually already vegetarian or vegan. You never notice the meat is missing in indian or ethiopian dishes since the foods are so flavorful!

    One other easy recipe I make ALL the time is banana ice cream. All you do is freeze a few overripe bananas, then pop them in the food processor with some almond milk and cocoa powder. It comes out the consistency of soft-serve and is way healthier (and more compassionate and environmentally friendly) than real ice cream.

    Speaking of almond milk, experiment with a few non-dairy milks to find one you like. Some people choose soy or rice milk, but there’s also hemp milk and all kinds of nut milks. Almond is my favorite. Even if initially you don’t like it to drink straight, see if you like it in your coffee, over your cereal, or in baked goods.

    Sorry my comment is so disorganized, but I was just mentioning things as I thought of them. Anyway, good for you for wanting to get healthier and eat more whole foods. Like one of the commenters above mentioned, your family members will most likely follow your example eventually.

  10. Grated carrot into pasta sauce.
    Looks unsuspicious.
    Tastes unsuspicious.

    But contains masses of sneaky EXTRA vitamins!

    Also, leave skins on things as much as you can (potatoes for example). The skin often contains most of a vegetable’s vitamin C.

    I personally would stay away from meat-imitation products. Everyone knows and can tell that a veggie-burger is lacking in meat. But a sweet-potato curry? Or a quiche lorraine? Exacccctly.

  11. I agree with starting with things that are similar to what they are already eating, just healthier. When you buy a healthier replacement to something, get rid of the original. Nowadays, you can go into a health food store and find healthier versions of many comfort foods, too, such as chips made with veggies and cold pressed oils. They won’t necessarily be the healthiest diet in the world, but it is a small step in the right direction.

    Most importantly, keep trying! Our tastes become super accustomed to what we’ve been eating, and it might take a few times of eating the same thing before you and your family go from eating certain foods because they’re healthy to eating those same foods because you crave them.

  12. After I changed my diet and started exercising, my husband decided to join in. I agree with Cat that if you change they will be more willing to follow.

    I hated veggies for a long time because I was used to having overcooked, bland vegetables, but once I started cooking them correctly it was like a whole new world. I started to love beans, discovered that caramelized onions fix anything, and that salads are exciting. I think it is very obvious when something has been added in or taken out of a dish, so I would recommend being up front about the changes, but you know your family best. I’m in the camp of giving choices, like “this is what I cooked. Would you like some of it or nothing at all?” Or “Would you like green beans or asparagus?” If there are unhealthy options in the house, they will be eaten. Soften the blow with healthy snacks.

    • P.S. I hope I don’t come off as a jerk. I’ve been fighting to keep crappy food out of my kitchen and I’ve become very unforgiving about junk food lately. I wish you all luck!

    • “I hated veggies for a long time because I was used to having overcooked, bland vegetables, but once I started cooking them correctly it was like a whole new world.”

      Dude, that’s me.
      I used to HATE broccoli. People would mention broccoli and my skin would crawl. But then I had it in Chinese food and I was like “wait a minute, this is bright green, slightly crunchy and doesn’t taste bad at all. WHAT GIVES?” Oh, it can be steamed and not boiled to the point of burning, as my mother used to make it? Oh!

      For anyone who thinks they don’t like a food, I suggest taking some time to research how it’s really supposed to be prepared and try it JUST ONCE that way. If you still hate it, you don’t have to eat it again.

    • Dude I had a crazy experience with asparagus once! Before this one time, I HATED the stuff! It always tasted bad and had an awkward texture. But one of my friends is the daughter of a trained-chef-turned-mom who I lost a bet to, so I had to eat her asparagus.

      I went into it all freaked out. I held the veggie, eyes closed, shaking, practically in tears just before it hit my palate… then I relaxed. It wasn’t bad. Not exactly good, but certainly not bad! I’d eat it again.

  13. I’ve got two ways of getting teh BF to eat healthier stuff:

    1. If I cook it, he has got to try it. He is allowed to say if he really hates something (and in those cases I may even heat some frozen leftovers from another meal for him), but he has to try everything. In the beginning it was a fight, but now he mostly just shuts up and eats what I make. (I assume he even likes some of the stuff, he wouldn’t admit it, though. ^^ )

    2. I use spice blends/meals I know he loves, and mix vegetables in there – cut so small he cannot pick them out or eat around them. ^^ Purreed vegetable soups are my favorite.

    • “I worked to make it so you have to try it” is totally part of our dinnertime rule around here. I don’t believe in forcing meals on kids, but I do know that 1. They won’t try new things if they can just have their comfort food instead, and 2. It takes multiple tries for a taste for something to develop, and 3. I HATED cooking when I was cooking meals that were shunned.

  14. I am going to second many things that a lot of people said, but here are what I’ve done:

    – Mix up the mac ‘n cheese. This is a go-to lazy meal for us. Either from a box with added veggies (throw some spinach in with the pasta), stir in shredded carrots, beats, or squash, or add tomatoes and tomato sauce (and throw in some extra cheese and liquid). Also, if I make the cheese sauce myself, then I’ll mix in winter squash.
    – Sub in whole grains. Buy whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, rolled oats, etc
    – In the vain of cutting up lettuce to eat, I find that shredding (a food processor is great for this) carrots, beets, zucchini and other veggies makes it super easy to incorporate them. I add them to salads, stir-fry, mashed potatoes, pasta, whatever …
    – Try adding spinach (or other veggies) to a smoothie
    – Rachel Ray! I know so many people hate her, but I started out with her cookbooks (I like 365 best) and I find her meals to be quick, easy, and use real vegetables … and they are delicious. They also give you ideas for adding veggies — For example, she has a meatball recipe that adds spinach. From that I started adding beets or carrots or other veggies to meatballs if I had them on hand. My husband will actually eat beets this way.
    – Sub in fresh fruit or fruit smoothies or fruit with whipped cream for a heavier dessert occasionally.

      • I do this for my own snacks, but I don’t use tuna. (I can’t eat fish, something about them breathing under water freaks me out…) Instead I use Morning Star Farms Meal Starters– the Grillers Recipe Crumbles are my favorites.

        I use them to sub for beef in Spaghetti sauce, as well. Or I just eat them alone. Yum!

  15. I’m currently doing something similar. My first big change was that I’m moving to cook as much as I can at home for us. I have to go out for business lunches and I travel a lot for work – so it’s not like it’s 100%. But I figure when I’m home – I cook.

    My next change was finding gluten free/dairy free alternatives to what he likes that he is okay with. Last night we went to the store and found some things that he wanted to try that met those criteria. I am involving him in the choices and making it clear to him why I want us to be healthier (for us, it’s because we want to start a family in a year or so and I know I need to lose some weight and clean up our diets before starting to even try to conceive). If you state for yourself why you want to make the changes and it’s clear, that gets support. Obviously my husband supports my desire to have a healthy pregnancy, so he’s behind my changes. Do I want to have a bunch of healthy junk food in the house – not all the time. But it’s a step in the right direction. And that’s all we need – are baby steps that we keep taking.

    Lastly I am focusing on making good stuff like someone said before. I’ve been researching cookbooks and flavors, learning new techniques, and buying better quality ingredients. I’m not perfect and I’ve cooked some major FAILS. But I’m learning and I’m trying and when I do make a winner – I make sure to take good notes on what I did and file it as a keeper.

    Oh and one more thing – I’m also replacing instead of completely purging our cabinets. As we finish items that are not organic or hormone free (meats for this one) I’m replacing them with things that meet those criteria. I think this helps my husband feel like it’s less of a dramatic diet change. I still cook him grains, but I serve them in smaller quantities and some nights I don’t cook them. I didn’t take an all or nothing approach with his diet since he’s not mentally where I am. I’m easing him into it gradually. So it feels more natural.

  16. These are great suggestions!

    When we wanted to start eating healthier I asked for a subscription to Cooking light for Christmas one year. I read the magazine maybe fore three years before I was over it. Did I cook out of it? No, not really. Did it help with inspiration? YES! Even though I would hardly actually make the recipes I would think differently about my own cooking. It would also help figure out how to pair up healthy foods to make better meals. I think this is key. We all know what we should be eating (generally) but how do we prepare and serve this food? And the magazine also has makeovers on desserts sometimes. Which can be fun. A word of caution. Cooking light definitely prefers speedy and low-fat methods. But usually I could figure out what whole food item should replace the processed. And one can always shred their own cheese to save money!

    To kick my dessert habit I switched to popsicles. Whole fruit popsicles. Sometimes homemade! There was always dessert if you wanted it. It was a popsicle. After about a few months we were over it. I think we may even still have a handful in the fridge. Just in case…I might need dessert.

  17. Tread carefully when,substituting peoples food though; my partner is food phobic from years of his mother hiding things in his food wiyhout telling him. Taken me years to teach him carrots cam be good and not everything needs to be in burger form. The mere sight of broccoli can make him throw up. Obviohsly he’s an extreme example, but a good warning to us all.

  18. le sigh. last year, as house cook, I managed to get my boyfriend, my roommate, and my roommate’s boyfriend to eat more veggies and fruit. I introduced my roommate to pomegranates, and she loves them now.
    but cut to today: grad-school, and too poor to buy enough produce to last me the week. nothing makes me sadder than having to parcel out my veggies – “I’ll use the broccoli on Monday, but I’d better save the sweet potatoes for tomorrow…” plus the produce at my mediocre Indiana grocery store kinda sucks.

    so: anybody have recipes for dirt-cheap veggies like kale? typically I throw it in soups or curries, bake it into chips, or saute it with garlic. but that’s gotten boring.

  19. My problem with cooked veggies is the texture–blech! I’ve never been able to eat chunky vegetable soup simply because I can’t stand the texture. So, I’ve started using my immersion blender a lot when I make soup, making things as smooth as possible. Then, at least I’m getting some of the goodness without having to deal with the texture.

  20. In our household (me as the teenage sister, my sister trying to get myself and her husband to eat better), we realized that even if we’d been doing really well, a hectic night would come along and we’d get take-out, and not really get back into the swing of cooking well after that. So we made huge batches of minestrone to freeze. Cheap, easy, delicious, and healthy.

  21. Ah how I love that Netflix Streaming is changing households other than mine….
    We were into Forks over Knives and made the first step by piling up veggies to start, and not a weak salad either, big veggies like bean stuffed squash. Then serving meat as the second course amazingly the meat course just dwindled on its own over time. We still consume, just much smaller portions. We went with a plant-based not plant-exclusive mentality. Never giving up cheese though. Never.

  22. I don’t know what constitutes picky in your house, but my solution is: CURRIES! Throw a whole bunch of veggies in a pan, add chickpeas or lentils for protein, and curry powder for delicious flavor. It makes veggies taste delicious and is flavorful enough that you don’t need to cook with salt. Yay! You can serve it over whole grain rice or even better, quinoa (more protein!). There are endless possibilities. You can play around with it and include everyone’s favorite veggies to make it more enticing. Good luck!

  23. These are such good suggestions, glad I chose today to remake my life!

    There are some good tips on the Australian Government’s “Swap it, don’t stop it” campaign site. Most of them are no-brainers, but sometimes it helps to see it in writing.

  24. (Slightly off-topic – in the interest of making sure people have all the facts, I did want to share this criticism of Forks over Knives: (disclaimer – haven’t seen the film myself))

    As for eating healthy – I go for the “cook meals from real food” approach. Not only is it more delicious, it’s also more fun! Well, I think it is, anyway. 🙂

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