We’ve all heard this around the dinner table, and not always from the children. What is it about vegetables that makes our taste buds rebel and our hands reach for sugary sweets over nutrient filled veggies? It all comes down to taste. There are five flavors that we taste in foods: Salty, savory, sweet, sour, and bitter. Salty and sweet are, by far, the most commons flavors to love with savory a close third. Sour seems to be an acquired taste, loved by some and hated by others, but wonderful when paired with sweetness in drinks like lemonade.
Bitter, though? Most people do not care for the bitter taste. In nature, bitterness is most often associated with substances that are harmful to us. As such, we have a natural aversion to the bitter flavor commonly found in vegetables. While they are not toxic, are generally good for us, and have a lot to offer in the way of vitamins and minerals – vegetables tend to have a bitter taste. This helps them avoid getting eaten in the wild.
Children, in particular, pick up on this taste and have an aversion to vegetables as a result. As we age and our taste buds become less sensitive, vegetables begin to taste better. While some of us may never learn to truly love the roots, legumes, leafy greens, and sprouts of the world at least now we know why. And knowing why means we can tackle the problem and make our vegetables taste better.
Here are some ideas, courtesy of Healthy Options, for improving the taste of your veggies:
- Use salt – Bitter flavors are naturally balanced out by salty flavors and, so long as salt is used in moderation, it can actually be good for you.
- Marinate – Soaking your veggies in flavorful sauces, such as soy sauce, can counter the bitter flavor. This works especially well on softer vegetables.
- Change your cooking style – Ever wonder why Mom’s broccoli tastes better than yours? It is likely how you are cooking it. Steaming, boiling, stir frying, and baking vegetables creates different flavors. Cooking times matter too! Some vegetables taste better when lightly cooked, while others are better after extended baking.
- Dress it up – Yummy sauces and delicious dressings can make even the simplest vegetable taste good. Salad dressings, veggie dips, and balsamic vinegar make veggies taste great!
- Find veggies you love – While this task may seem impossible at first, experimentation is a must. With the wide range of vegetables available, it pays to try different variations and types. Prefer the sweeter taste? Try sweet potatoes and squash. Didn’t like the green peppers? Try yellow or red, they are sweeter. Even different varieties of the same vegetable can have different tastes.
The important part is to keep eating your vegetables. As an important source of vitamins and minerals, vegetables have also been found to reduce the risk of many diseases. Heart disease, high blood pressure – even some cancers. In the end, it’s worth the effort of finding a vegetable you love.
Source: Healthy Options; August 2014