7 ways to trick your taste buds into loving vegetables

Chefs are masters at trickery. They know a splash of olive oil or sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds does wonders for vegetables. So, follow their lead! Let’s make our veggies lively and great tasting so you – and the kids – will WANT to wolf them down. These seven ideas start simple then progress in complexity.

1. Splash on some extra-virgin olive oil

Somehow, everything tastes better with olive oil. This is the easiest way to add flavour. Once your veggies are cooked, simply drain well, drizzle over ½–1 tablespoon olive oil, toss to coat and serve.

2. Squeeze over lemon or lime juice

If you don’t like olive oil, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to broccoli, green beans, asparagus or any other vegetable. Bonus: extra vitamin C. The vitamin C also helps improve the bioavailability of the mineral iron.

3. Drizzle with vinegar

Whether balsamic, wine or apple cider, vinegar is marvellous with veg. Drizzle it over sweet gold potatoes, carrots, pumpkin or other naturally sweet vegetables to enhance their natural sweetness.

4. Toss in fresh herbs

Chop fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, chives or basil, then sprinkle them over beans, carrots, peas and other vegetables just before serving. Don’t forget woody herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme really lift roasted root veg such as kumara, celeriac, parsnip and potato. Add them to the baking dish before cooking.

5. Boost aroma and flavour with garlic or onion

Add 1–2 cloves or a few slivers of sliced garlic or chopped onion to your vegetables. Leafy greens such as silverbeet, kale and spinach really benefit from this treatment. I like to sauté 2 cloves of sliced garlic in olive oil for a minute and mix through before serving. This simple addition makes the veg more enticing, plus it increases your protection from bowel cancer. 

6. Scatter with toasted seeds or nuts

You can toast flaked almonds, chopped pecans or hazelnuts, or any seeds such as sesame, sunflower or pepitas. They add crunch, texture and flavour – not forgetting their valuable vitamin E and unsaturated fats.

To toast, lightly brown the nuts or seeds in a hot dry pan for 2–3 minutes, taking care not to burn. Store in a jar to use later. Toasted sesame seeds are delicious over cooked Asian greens, such as bok choy or choy sum. Brussels sprouts love them, too.

7. Crumble over feta cheese

A few crumbles of feta cheese improve just about everything – you don’t have to use a lot. 

The bottom line

I’ll wager that ONE of these ideas rings a bell for you and of course, you’ll want to experiment with flavour pairings yourself, which is great. Go for it!

Related links / External websites

This post was first published in my book: The Super Powers of Veg out in October 2021. You can access it here.

The Super Powers of Veg

7 ways to trick your taste buds into loving vegetables

Salad story by

Catherine Saxelby

Catherine Saxelby

Health professional / educator

I love salads and eat one in some form every day, either as a main meal OR as a side to a grill or burger. Some of my favourite accompaniments are a Greek salad, coleslaw, fragrant Vietnamese... Read more

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