Most people striving for a healthy lifestyle know that they should eat more vegetables. If they're anything like me-- and I would be willing to bet they are (less than 30% of Americans eat the recommended 3 or more servings of vegetables a day) --that can be easier said than done.

Growing up, the only vegetables my mother served on a regular basis were potatoes, corn and peas. I knew other vegetables existed, but I was positive that they tasted horrible; and I had no intention of actually trying them.

It wasn't until I finished college and moved in with my grandparents that I realized not all vegetables tasted like grass. I developed an interest in cooking which led to an interest in food, especially good food.

I tried asparagus drizzled with olive oil and roasted with lemon; steamed spinach and broccoli cooked with pesto and pasta; and even cabbage-- accidentally (it looks a lot like iceberg lettuce!)-- in a raw salad.

I could have done without the cabbage salad, but asparagus, broccoli and spinach quickly became some of my favorite foods.

I won't lie, my affinity towards vegetables didn't happen over-night. Sometimes I had to try things three or four times (I'm lookin' at you, eggplant) before I started finding them enjoyable.

Although you may never develop a love for every vegetable-- I still don't enjoy beets-- learning different methods to prepare them will make them more tolerable. You also have to be willing to try...and try again!

Cooking Methods

These are only a few of the many ways to cook vegetables. Experiment; and you may be surprised to learn you love parsnips, mushrooms, and even the commonly dreaded brussel sprout!

Boiling

Boiling vegetables is super easy! Grab a pot, fill it with water, add a little salt. Let the water come to a rolling boil and toss in your vegetables. Cook them until they're soft, but not mushy.

Boiling does cause vegetables to lose some of their vitamins, nutrients and flavor into the cooking water. Because of this, you want to limit the cooking time to as short as possible.

Once the veggies are cooked, don't throw the water away! Use it, instead of plain water, for cooking rice to accompany your meal.

I suggest boiling carrots with a little salt and a couple chiles. Don't chop the chiles, just make a few slits in them and toss them in the water.

Roasting

Roasting is my absolute favorite way to cook most veggies. Because they cook slower, the natural sugars in the vegetables begin to caramelize; resulting in a more complex flavor.

There isn't much preparation time involved, but the vegetables will need to spend more time cooking than in other methods. To roast vegetables: simply preheat the oven to 400° F, grab a baking sheet, line it with aluminum foil, toss the veggies on and drizzle them with a little olive oil (a little goes a long way).

Add any salt, spices or herbs and toss everything to coat. Cooking times will vary, but you'll notice the veggies beginning to brown. They're done when you can easily poke a fork through them.

Brussel Sprouts, squash, and cauliflower are excellent examples of vegetables that taste great roasted.

Steaming

Steaming vegetables will yield similar results as boiling them; but they will retain more of their flavor, vitamins, and nutrients. There are a few different ways to steam veggies.

You could use a steamer pot, steamer basket, or steamer bags; all will give you great results! How you steam your vegetables will depend on what cookware you decide to use.

Using a steamer pot: put water in the bottom of the pot and set the steamer basket on top. You don't want the water to touch the basket, there should be some space in between.

Put the veggies in the basket and cover the pot. Cook until the vegetables are tender. I love to steam broccoli, seasoned with a little salt and pepper.

Sauteing/Stir-Fry

Sauteing or stir-frying vegetables is a very easy and tasty way to prepare them! They are cooked in a pan or wok over a high heat with a little oil. Cooking takes nearly no time; you want to be sure to stir often so the veggies don't burn.

This method of cooking results in some pretty delicious food. You can easily add seasonings, marinades, or sauces to enhance the vegetables and make them a main course meal.

Cabbage is an example of a vegetable that tastes amazing when stir-fried with a few aromatics such as garlic and ginger.

Grilling

Grilling is a fabulous way to cook vegetables. The flavor of grilled food—veggies or not –is hard to beat. The vegetables can be marinaded well before cooking, sprinkled with herbs or seasonings, skewered, and grilled to perfection in nearly no time.

I love to grill summer squash sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. It's so simple, and so delicious!

Happy Cooking!

About the author: Shari enjoys learning about food, making food, and eating food. She especially has an affinity for unique ingredients and Indian recipes. You can read her blog over at MyFancyPantry.com

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