The time of harvest is here. Roadside kiosks and farmers’ markets offer a cornucopia of vegetables. But not everyone is exulting in this time of plenty. There are those among us who consider veggies “meh” at best, “yucky” at worst. Is that you?

Good news. Research shows that you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of mac and cheese. You can learn to love — or at the very least like — veggies. Dietary likes and dislikes aren’t ingrained in our DNA. Over time you can retrain your palate.

Here are the steps:

Start small. Pick one or two vegetables that you are not particularly fond of. The typical ones that cause many to turn up their nose are broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, radishes, spinach and arugula. 

Eat a little bit with each meal for three to four meals. Repeated exposure has been shown to actually change the proteins in saliva, calming the initial distaste. 

Learn some cooking tips.

Blanch them: Blanching root vegetables and brussels sprouts gets rid of the bitter edge. Just boil water. Put your veggies in for two minutes. Drain and then immediately cover them with cold water. Drain again.

Massage them: This works great for raw greens, like kale or arugula. Just drizzle them with some oil and a little salt. Use your hands to literally massage it into the leaves. This will make them less bitter, and easier to digest.

Roast, grill or sauté them: These cooking methods create interesting textures and give veggies a sweet, toasty goodness.

Don’t overcook them: Mushy veggies are good for toothless babies, but not so palatable to grownups. Google cooking times and suggestions.

Complement them with some flavors.

Add flavored oils: You need a little oil over your produce whether you're roasting, frying, sautéing or grilling. Flavored oils are an excellent way to add a ton of flavor in one little pour. Try oils infused with lemon, garlic or basil to make things super tasty.

Season with herbs and spices: Butter, salt and pepper are quintessential favorites, but don’t be afraid to experiment with a bouquet of flavors. Sprinkle some garlic, cilantro, cumin, basic, dill or mint to add a burst of flavor.

Serve them with a sauce, dressing or dip: Combining a taste you don’t like, with one you do will help you grow fond of your veggies. If you love ranch dressing or salsa, top your veggies with those and focus on this new taste combination. Try drizzling cooked brussels sprouts or root vegetables with a balsamic glaze, maple syrup or honey to add a touch of sweetness. Spritz your veggies with lemon. It neutralizes the bitter taste. 

When all else fails: OK. If you're really struggling with the taste of veggies, there is always a little cheese and a few bacon crumbles.

Eating veggies pays a lifetime of dividends. They are the centerpiece of a healthy lifestyle. According to Harvard School of Public Health, a diet rich in veggies and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of digestive problems and have a positive effect upon blood sugar. All good reasons to hold your nose and take a bite. 

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Certified Life and Wellness Coach Author/columnist, motivational speaker Certified Trainer for TLS Weight Loss Solution

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