Five Ways to Spice up Boring Vegetables

“Oh, YUCK… not VEGETABLES again!“

How many times have we heard this or a variation of this from our kids over the years? (Or our spouse, for that matter) If we’ve heard it once, that is one too many. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about it.

Assortment of fresh vegetables

Or is there?

We all want our families to eat healthier. Healthy foods equal a healthy immune system, fewer health issues, (Like obesity and diabetes) and a great start to what will hopefully be long and happy lives. Sometimes, this means serving the kinds of foods that are less than popular at our family dining tables.

When it comes to getting our families to eat right, we are not completely helpless. There are ways to spice up even the most boring of vegetables. All you need is the desire and a little bit of creativity to turn a boring plate of healthy food into a dining event that the entire family looks forward to sharing. Here are five ideas to get you started. Once you see how easy it is, every meal will become an adventure in cooking… and cleaning up those empty plates.

  1. Make your Rice Twice as Nice

When it comes to bland food, rice is just about as plain and boring as you can get. Grown under water, this Asian favorite staple starts life as a plant known as swamp grass. The seeds or grains of the plant are cultivated and boiled. Even the description is enough to make us nod off to sleep. So how do you make something so boring that is grown in water and needs to be soaked in water to make it edible?

  • Forgo the water
  • New meaning for Fried Rice

The traditional way to cook rice is to boil it in water. The next time you are serving rice, boil it in chicken or beef stock instead. As rice absorbs the liquid in which it is boiled, it puffs up and takes on that flavor. Infuse your rice with awesome flavor by substituting the water with a delicious broth.

Another trick with rice that is less well –known is the frying effect. Before you cook your rice to its tender best, add a little olive oil to a skillet and fry your pre-cooked, dry rice. Frying releases the true flavor of the grain, which is surprisingly nutty in taste. Add lemon pepper seasoning to the oil while frying for an extra tasty vegetable that will rock your family’s taste buds. Now boil the rice normally and watch their eyebrows raise in delighted surprise when they taste it.

  1. No More Crying over the Onion

The onion has been a bitter pill to swallow for many people. The sharp taste has up turned many a noses and caused many a shed tears by the cooks who slice and dice them. There is a way; however, to cook an onion so that the sharp taste abates while the sweetness comes to life. Peel your onions and wrap them in foil the next time you cook out on the grill.

Toss the entire onion in foil on the grill and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Grilling in foil causes the heat within the onion to intensify to the point that it releases the sweetest flavors. The bitter flavor never has a change to develop. If you want your family to enjoy the cancer fighting benefits of the incredibly healthy onion, grill it up and watch them enjoy!

  1. The Ugliest Vegetable Tastes (And Smells) the Best

Next to Cauliflower, Asparagus is just about the ugliest vegetable on the planet. What it lacks in looks it more than makes up for in healthy potassium and a certain bacteria that it leaves in the digestive systems that aids in your digestion of other foods long after it is gone. Try telling your family all of that and see if it makes a dent.

Instead, lay your Asparagus’ on a cookie sheet that has been wiped down with olive oil. Sprinkle lemon pepper, a little bit of garlic powder, and bake until tender. Drizzle the vegetable with sharp cheddar and turn the broil selection of your oven on for a few minutes to melt the cheese. It might be best not to stand too close to the tray lest you be trampled by hungry family members once they get a whiff of the magnificent scent this tasty yet healthy treat emits.

  1. Beat you to the Table for Beets

I decided to sit down and make a list of all the people I know who like beets. An hour later, my name was still the only name on the list. In my lifetime, I have met at least two people who told me that they thought beets tasted like dirt. This always baffled me. It never occurred to me before but now I believe I know why. I realize now that I have never met anyone who tasted fresh beets from a garden.

All of the people in my life tried beets from a can or jar and could never tolerate them. Being an avid gardener from childhood, I have eaten many beets and they always tasted sweet to me. Serving fresh garden beets is enough to swing anyone towards the beet train, however, just in case, here is a fantastic recipe that is sure to have everyone you know coming back for more beets.

French Peasant Beets

  • Eight Beets w/greens attached
  • One hearty bunch of Swiss chard
  • Three tbs butter (Real Butter, not marjoram)
  • One shallot
  • Sea Salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Two tbs white wine (Muscadet works wonders with this recipe)
  • Two tbs water (Bottled is best but tap will do west of the Rockies)
  • 1/5th lbs bucheron cheese (Bring to room temperature)
  • Crusty French or peasant style bread (Warm it up in the oven before serving)

Scrub your beets well, chopping off the greens and then slice beets ¼ rounds. Chop the greens well. After cutting ribs from the Swiss chard, chop it up well as well and toss with greens in large bowl. Melt butter in sauté pan and sauté the shallots. Add the beets, turning to brown evenly and crack pepper into pan with a pinch of sea salt.

Lower heat and sauté’ beets and company for about 15 minutes, stirring as needed. Beets will glaze and soften up. Add the wine, greens and chard, sauté for 5 more minutes and then cover and simmer until the greens wilt. Add the water at that point and allow to absorb while you re-season. Serve with bucheron garnish and warm bread.

  1. Egg-citing Bell Pepper Breakfast

Do not let them fool you. Anyone in your family who tells you they do not like bell peppers is pulling your leg. You can put that theory to the test with this delicious and unusual bell pepper breakfast idea.

Slice bell pepper into ¼-inch rings and place in frying pan with butter. Fry, turn until cooked, and then crack a large egg into the pepper ring. Season the egg with lemon pepper, making sure to spill enough lemon pepper into the pan so that the aroma wafts through the house like a hypnotic spell, luring the family from hibernation. Serve your fried egg in pepper ring with hash browns and linked sausage for a breakfast about which they will brag to their friends.