Take the Hated Veggie Challenge

This year at Inspired RD, I want to throw out challenges for you.  I want to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone both in food and fitness.  I hope you will participate because it is only when we step out our ordinary routine that we can do something extraordinary.

Challenge number one starts on day number one of 2011.  I call it the “Hated Veggie Challenge.”

I have met so many people who are convinced that they don’t like a certain vegetable (or in some cases, ALL vegetables).  Many times it turns out that they have never had a properly cooked vegetable in their life!  They either grew up on no veggies, canned veggies or overly cooked veggies.

I mean, if you had only had store-bought, mealy, no-taste tomatoes and never tried one off the vine, you wouldn’t like tomatoes would you?  And if you have only experienced canned, mushy, brownish peas and never tasted one fresh from the pod, how could you ever think you could like peas?

So here’s the challenge: Choose one vegetable that you are convinced is disgusting and learn how to prepare it in a fresh and new way.  For this to work, you have to start with a fresh vegetable.  So make sure to choose something that is currently in season.  If you can buy something locally, that would be even better.

To find out what is in season near you, check out this handy tool from Sustainable Table.

And how to prepare your vegetable?  My favorite way to get someone to like a hated veggie is to roast it at a high temperature with olive oil and a little bit of kosher salt.  The result is beautiful caramelization with a satisfying salty crunch.  You can find a couple examples here and here.  You can also browse through my recipe page for inspiration or some of the many food blogs out there.

So what if you go through all of this and still don’t like that vegetable?  I say try again!  It took me 30 years to like sweet potatoes, and now I can’t get enough of them.

Challenge #1 is officially on.  Let’s go!

Make your pledge below!  Tell us the veggie you hate, then come back to tell us the results of your challenge.  If you take photos of your veggie, post it to my Flickr Group for all of us to see!

  • Vicarious Chelsea January 2, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I truly can't think of a veggie that I hate. However, I might get a little lazy at times with what we eat. So I'm going to take this challenge this direction –
    1. I'll double to veggie intake of myself and my children.
    2. I'll take a "fresh" look at the produce section and choose veggies that aren't my normal "go to" veggies.

    Thanks for this great challenge!

  • Tracie and Jessica January 3, 2011 at 4:40 am

    Alright Alysa, I cannot stand SQUASH! Any kind of squash..well except pumpkin and only in sweet pumpkin dishes not savory. I am also not a big fan of sweet potatoes unless they are fries or maybe sweet potato pie with lots of brown sugar, butter, and pecans. I think by that time all of the junk cancels out any goodness the sweet potatoes had in them?! I think with the squash it is more of a texture thing. I dont mind the flavor but it gets kind of stringy and grosses me out. I will keep trying it because I already payed for it (in my basket) so hopefully this year I will be able to find a yummy way to use squash without ruining it with a bunch of gunk?!

  • Carrie @ FamilyFitnessFood.com January 3, 2011 at 5:14 am

    I'm with you that I hated sweet potatoes for 38 years and now I love them. We get a CSA delivery weekly and it's helped my family try all kinds of new things – kale, chard, kohlrabi. So fun. I can't think of anything I hate, but I'm excited to hear some new recipes. Fun. Happy New Year!

  • Apitmomma2 January 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    we grow most of the veggies that we eat hubby doesn't like alot of them so i find ways to sneak them into food and then he finds he likes them!

  • Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD January 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    LOVE THIS! I feel sort of ashamed that as an RD, I still have hang-ups about certain veggies. So I pledge to try peas and Brussels sprouts this month.

  • Andrea@WellnessNotes January 4, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Great challenge!

    I honestly can't think of a veggie I hate, BUT I could of course eat a wider variety of veggies. Since we joined a CSA, I have been eating a greater variety, but I could always be more conscious of choosing different veggies each week at the farmers' market and store. Also, I really want to find more ways to eat/prepare greens.

  • Jeanne @JollyTomato January 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Great challenge! I had to think for a while on this one… Like most of the commenters I love just about every vegetable. The only one I can think of that I don't like much is radishes. I guess they are OK shredded in small pieces, but I really don't like the sensation of biting into a whole spicy radish. I'll have to see if I can work on that!

  • Angela @ Nine More Months January 5, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I can't think of a veggie I hate, but I'm sure there's a few out there I haven't tried yet. I'll have to hit the farmer's market and see what I can come up with!

  • Kasey January 5, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Great challenge! I'm not the biggest fan of brussel sprouts. I plan to roast them this month! I haven't eaten a roasted veggie that I did not like 🙂

  • Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD January 5, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Ate my hated veggie last night–peas. (I know peas don't seem very offensive, but I had always been served over-cooked peas in that grayish-greenish hue and had grown to be repulsed by them). I bought a simple carrots-peas mix and lightly cooked them. I was surprised to find that they weren't mushy and that I actually liked the flavor of them plain. Have to say, I felt very empowered by trying them again and changing my mind about them. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD @tspbasil January 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    OK – the veggies on my dislike list: Brussels sprouts and califlower but your challenge has inspired (see – you live up to your name!) me. I actually bought Brussels sprouts at Trader Joes today! Am going to try a recipe from the New York Times Cookbook that has a little bit of bacon in it (got to give me some slack here 🙂 I'm actually looking forward to trying out!

    P.S. I'm with Sally – cooked peas are another one but if she can do it, I will try too 🙂

  • Alysa January 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    For those who like all veggies, I think your goals of increasing veggie intake and trying some new ones are great! Let me know how it goes.

  • Alysa January 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Jess, have you tried cutting squash into cubes or crescents and roasting? Seems to not get stringy that way.

  • Alysa January 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Jeanne, radishes might be a tough one since there isn't too much you can do to change the flavor. Maybe try doing radish quick pickles?

  • Alysa January 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Sally, I am so glad you liked the peas! In the spring, you should really try to find some fresh ones in the pod at a farmers market. They are SO good when you shell them yourself. So crisp and fresh!

  • Alysa January 5, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Deanna, let me know how the brussels sprouts turn out. And don't worry, I have nothing against a little bacon 🙂

  • Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD @tspbasil January 5, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    OK – I actually prioritized making Brussels sprouts tonight on my to-do list (it's definitely a new era.) I have to give credit to @Jen_Lee who encouraged me to try a recipe in the Essential New York Times Cookbook. I met her and her hubby (@bestfoodblogevr) at a potluck last month with Ms. Amanda Hesser herself! Any way, I digress…

    I was convinced the only way I'd like the sprouts was with bacon or roasted but the recipe that seriously won me over was Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Mustard Butter. Softened butter (I cut the amonut from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup) is mixed with scallions, parsley, Dijon mustard, S&P) then melted in large pan to saute 1 pound sprouts that have been shredded. They are done in 5 minutes and had NONE of the bitterness I anticipated – soft, tender, creamy with hint of tang from mustard. WOW – really, I just kept eating them – Wow – I now like Brussels sprouts?!?

  • Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD @tspbasil January 5, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    PS – I clearly can't spell…

  • elaine January 7, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    I love all veggies but I hate mushrooms. Totally a texture thing. But how much am I missing out on nutritionally (I hope it is not a lot!)?

  • Amelia (Eating Made Easy) January 8, 2011 at 4:31 am

    I like every veggie I've ever met, but I am so with you on roasting being the best way to prepare a veggie you feel so-so about! Roasting makes veggies taste like a treat rather than a chore. Yum!

  • Jenn January 10, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Challenge accepted! :). My mom and I are going to do this together, exchanging tips along the way.

    Me = mushrooms! I love raw mushrooms, but haven't quite been able to get the taste for them cooked. I'm going to try mushroom soup.

    My mom = squash! She doesn't like them cooked or raw. She's going to try grilling them!

    We're excited to try these ideas out. We'll keep you posted 🙂 Thanks for this fun food adventure!

  • Alysa January 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Deanna, I can't wait to try those brussels sprouts, they sound so good!

  • Alysa January 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Elaine, mushrooms definitely have some health benefits, but if you absolutely hate them I am sure you will be ok 🙂 Here is a link for you http://health.learninginfo.org/nutrition-facts/mushrooms.htm

  • Alysa January 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Jenn, I am so excited that you are taking on this challenge with your mom. I can't wait to hear how it turns out!

  • Deanna Segrave-Daly January 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Today I took on the other hated veggie on my list: cauliflower. I used a recipe from Jessica Theroux's Cooking with Italian Grandmothers for Cauliflower and Ricotta- kind of a like a gratin. After boiling cauliflower, you mix it with ricotta, a little bit of cream & butter, S&P and nutmeg. Top with grated Pecorino cheese and broil. Divine!! (The nutmeg takes it to the next level.)
    So thanks again for the challenge, Alysa. Without it, I doubt I'd have 2 new veggies on my "I'll eat them now" list.

  • Jenn February 21, 2011 at 3:30 am

    My mom and I have been waiting to do the Hated Veggie Challenge since early January and were finally together and able to do it tonight!

    My hated veggie was mushrooms! I love them raw in salads or roasted. I just don't like that slimey mouthfeel when they're sauteed or put into soups. Originally, we were going to make a mushroom soup – but my mom had a better idea! Instead of sauteeing them in butter, we'd try her favorite method: olive oil and high heat! It was delicious! Some of them were still a little slimey, but I didn't mind with the amazing nutty flavor. The thinnest ones were a bit crispy and were truly incredible. I never thought about caramelizing mushrooms. Thanks, Momm!

    My mom's hated veggie: yellow squash. We grilled them, diced them, and marinated them in an olive oil/lemon juice/basil marinade for 30 minutes after grilling. They were the best yellow squash she ever tasted! Even though this method was the best she's had so far, the aftertaste of yellow squash was still there. My dad suggested a casserole where you can't even tell they're there. While she would rather just switch them out for zucchini in a recipe, we had a great time with this experiment.

    I posted one picture of each on the Inspired Photos Flickr group!

    Thanks for such a fun idea!!! We loved it 🙂 – Jenn

  • McNee February 21, 2011 at 3:48 am

    I finally found a way to "enjoy" Brussels sprouts.

    I shred a few up to use in pot stickers instead of buying a whole head of cabbage or Napa that I have trouble using up before it goes bad.

  • annieology February 21, 2011 at 4:48 am

    I was convinced that I too, did not like sweet potatoes. Apparently I had only had canned ones with marshmallows on them or something. Now I have 3 or 4 a week. Love. Them. Also, sugar snap peas, I could eat those forever. I have recently started eating whole raw food before every meal, and am loving it. I will look for a veggie I haven't tried for the challenge.

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