It’s Not Just Bacon and Steak

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Recently by Mark Sisson: Gateway Foods: The Slippery Slope of ‘JustaBite’

     

It’s been my experience that people rarely have trouble eating more meat when going Primal. Sure, former vegetarians may struggle with the transition, but the average omnivore usually welcomes the opportunity to indulge more often. Vegetables, on the other hand, seem to present more of an issue. We don’t live in a very veggie friendly culture. Vegetables get a bad name from the overcooked, colorless portions served in schools to the tiresome model of bland “house salads” across America. (Can we all just agree that iceberg lettuce is just a handy wrapping agent – for real food?) I get emails and comment board questions from time to time asking how to incorporate more vegetables into a Primal Blueprint diet. Sometimes they’re from self-professed vegetable haters. Other times, folks are just looking for tips to expand their limited horizons in the produce section or in the cooking realm. Fall might not be the height of farmers’ market season, but it’s a good time to up your antioxidant intake. Why put off making a positive change? Let’s dig in.

Train Your Palate

I always tell people you can train your taste. Sure, chocolate will probably always taste better than broccoli, but as you distance yourself from a daily onslaught of sugar, salt, and processed additives, you’ll begin to appreciate the taste of freshness in all your food – vegetables included. Be patient with the process (and yourself). Take it as slow as you need to.

Start with the veggies you already like or sort of like. Work more of them into the meal rotation more often. Use them raw in one dish and cooked in another. Chop them finely in one meal and use large chunks for dipping at snack time. Start your own list or cookbook to record your favorites.

Add One Quality Vegetable At a Time

Go to the best farmers’ market or produce department you can. Buy the best quality you can afford. Start with just a little of each new thing. Get plenty of inspiration from your favorite cookbooks and online recipes (like here of course).

Have Fun With It

Host a potluck, have each family member make a dish, or go out to dinner with the weekly veggie theme in mind. That way you’ll get to try a vegetable prepared differently in several dishes. You’re bound to like at least one.

Learn to Cook Each Vegetable

Guess what – no one likes green beans when they’re cooked to an olive-colored mush. The same goes for limp asparagus or soggy eggplant. Here’s where I think cooking shows can come in handy – when they aren’t just carb orgies. (Anyone out there want to bring the Primal Blueprint to the “Next Food Network Star”? I take an oath to actually watch the show from start to finish and post updates on your progress here.) Good cooking magazines and cookbooks often give more detailed recipe instructions or ingredient guides, which can be handy. That said, many vegetables are better raw. Stay open-minded.

Don’t Underestimate Good Seasoning and Accompaniments

Cut yourself some slack early on, and use dips, sauces, and dressings as you need them. As your taste adjusts, you’ll depend on them less. If you’ve been Primal for a while now, use your favorite recipes to your advantage. Dip vegetable sticks into meat juices or mushroom sauces (works great with cauliflower, BTW). Whip up a jar of Primal ranch dressing or tzatziki for some some raw veggies.

Look beyond the typical dip ideas, however. Try the veggies at hand as a hot side dish with an Asian (stir fry!) or Mediterranean sauce. Add some umami with some good quality cheese if you do any dairy. (Gratins aren’t just for potatoes.) Or mix your veggies with some fruit while you get used to the new tastes.

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