5 Tricks to Eat More Vegetables

Nikki Dinki joins the Clever Cookstr to talk about her new book Meat On The Side: Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day. She's on a mission to show omnivores new and exciting ways to eat their vegetables.

Kara Rota
2-minute read
Episode #105

Here are some of Nikki's tips for adding more vegetables into your omnivorous diet, from her new book Meat On The Side: Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day.

1) Make vegetables exciting! If you steam broccoli and that's your side dish, it's not surprising if you aren't that excited about eating broccoli. Try roasting it and dipping it in chipotle cheese sauce, or put it in a taco—now we're talking!

2) Look at familiar vegetables with new eyes. Nikki loves to look at a vegetable that she's only ever cooked one way and think about what else she can do with it. For example, red cabbage (which is super healthy and full of nutrition) too often gets relegated to coleslaw. Nikki sautees red cabbage with a little raspberry jam and layers it in a grilled cheese. Or, she'll saute green cabbage with a little tomatillo salsa and layer it onto nachos, where it creates fantastic flavor. 

3) A little meat goes a long way. Nikki's approach is a great way to stretch smaller amounts of meat over more portions and meals, for cost savings and health benefits. You don't have to forgo meat entirely to reap the benefits of a vegetable-focused diet. 

4) Expand your palate! Nikki says she didn't eat a single vegetable or protein until she was 20 years old, so she definitely sympathizes with picky eaters of all ages! One of her strategies is to add less-loved veggies into already familiar and beloved dishes. She wasn't a huge carrot fan, so now she roasts them until they're deeply caramelized and layers them on a sandwich with fresh veggies and white bean spread. If you keep eating a food you don't care for, you'll become more acclimated to it and often eventually come to like it. 

5) Veggies are great for entertaining. Start with appetizers, like zucchini crostini with slices of zucchini that replace the bread—just add a cheese or spread. Dips, like broccoli-feta dip made with roasted broccoli, are perfect for serving with crackers, chips, and crudites. If you want to include some meat in the main course without making it the center of the plate, try spaghetti squash with tiny chicken meatballs that can be distributed throughout, so guests feel totally satisfied. Or make steak tacos, but replace half the steak with portobello mushrooms, which add even more juiciness and flavor than a lean cut of steak alone. 

For more tips from Nikki Dinki, listen to the full interview in the top right hand player, or on iTunesStitcher, and Spotify (simply search the mobile app!). Don't forget to sign up for the forthcoming Clever Cookstr newsletter, full of tips and tricks from the kitchens of the world's best chefs.

About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.