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I only like meat and potatoes

Does anyone know how you go about expanding an adult's pallette. This is mostly a psychological issue. I know that hypnotism has worked for some. I'm looking to do some reading before embarking on any sort of psychological experiment. Please help, my wife doesn't like vegetables and the only proteins she eats are chicken, beef, and pork this is troubling for a foodie when cooking and dining.

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  1. I think you have to take something she likes and slowing integrate some vegetables into the recipe. For instance, make a cauliflower puree or mashed carrots/rutabaga instead of potatoes. Make a potato gratin but add artichoke, turnip or mushrooms, etc. Substitute fried green beans for french fries. I think if you find recipes for things she likes to eat but slowly change it to include a vegetable she thought she didn't like then she may become for adventureous in trying new things.

    1. Rather than substituting mashed vegetables for mashed potatoes, why not just mash the cauliflower into the potatoes with lots of butter. That might be a painless way to introduce her to vegetables. Does she take vitamins?

      1. Well, this may not be the healthiest way to make vegetables, but making a creamy soup out of just about any veggie is delicious- start with a creamy carrot soup, then potato and broccoli (maybe throw in some bacon), then move on to cauliflower and broccoli without the potato... you know, she might like a Thai soup or noodle dish with meat (they always sneak things like peppers and eggplant in there). Will she eat pasta with tomato sauce? It's pretty easy to get some mushrooms and eggplant in there, too. Will she eat white pizza? Beg her to try it with spinach on top- if there's enough garlic (I can't even believe I'm writing this- sorry, Mom) she won't even taste the spinach. Or maybe a big baked stuffed potato- with plenty of cheese and bacon, of course, but also some vegetables.

        1. A smattering of random ideas...

          Add them to quesadilla or burrito fillings, esp sweet potato burritos

          Add them to meatloaf

          Add to lasagna

          Butternut squash or spinach or mushroom ravioli

          Make a tapenade out of mushrooms and eggplant and sundried tomatoes for crostini

          spinach-artichoke dip

          Stuffed chicken breasts with spinach and fontina or provolone

          Chicken salad with veggies of your choice mixed in

          Ratatouille... i know, i know, it's pure veggies but maybe if you top with a dollop or two of ricotta cheese?

          Spaghetti squash sauteed w/ garlic, olive oil, and topped w/ parmesan

          Frittatas and quiches

          Zucchini bread/muffins

          Gazpacho or vicchysoisse

          1. lots of luck. my grandmother made the worst vegetables in the world. grandpa grew em in the backyard.... beautiful fresh, perfect. and if dinner was at 6 grandma would have him go pick them at 3:30. At 4 she started boiling them - boiling not simmering. She would throw a ton of salt into the water too.

            as a result my dad won't touch vegetables to this day. he picks them out of his food, and if he can't pick them out, he just doesn't eat. From personal experience of watching this behavior for half a centruy now I can say that trickery is not the key. The few vegetables he would eat my mom could pretty much only get him to eat raw. Now that he is getting older, he is more intractible than ever and even getting him to eat a green salad is nearly impossible. And when my stepmom tries to put too many veggies in meatloaf or lasagne, or tries to make a soup... forget it. He tastes the vegetables and stops eating. Yes, it is a huge ordeal. Yes, he would have skinned my brother and I alive for acting that way. But thats how he is.

            I think you are going to have to have a registered nutritionist talk to her, explain to her why she really can't get everything she needs out of a vitamin pill and some metamucil. If the nutritionist can convince her to try things don't start with broccoli or brussell sprouts.

            You may be able to start with fruits, and you may have to turn them into pie or something with lots of sugar to begin with. Maybe from there you can branch into a sweet potato pie. Once she is used to the flavor of apples and maybe berries (and sweet potato) as part of a differnt kind of dish, she might not object so much to it in a more natural state - eventually. It is going to take time, it is going to take patience, it is going to take trust.

            1. I would agree with folks who say "hiding" them in complex dishes is a bad idea. It's not only likely to make her reject the entire dish but also duplicitous. You simply don't try to trick your spouse. It's the same as a lie and it's very patronizing (like hiding a child's medicine in some food he likes).

              I feel your pain because I have had similar issues with my husband but I have been able to slowly get him to accept more and more vegetables over the last 18 years of marriage. The important thing is to encourage but not push and to cook in such a fashion that the picky eater can easily avoid what she hates. I'd recommend you make vegetable-based sides for your consumption which smell very good. If she wants to sample, she can. If she doesn't, then you eat it yourself. You may want to incorporate irreisistable aromas into the vegetable dishes (like bacon) to entice her but wait for her to ask to sample, don't even offer.

              With my husband, he started off pretty much only allowing for lettuce, bananas and strawberries in addition to meat and potatoes. I started off with onions as they are flavorful and inoffensive (particularly when cooked) and then added in broccoli and asparagus which he initially only ate with cheese or butter but now will eat plain. He also used to refuse any foods cooked with tomato or green pepper and now accepts them. He had to accept these things at his own pace as he got older and had an increased sense that he should improve his diet.

              The bottom line is some people don't like strong or complex flavors and that just isn't going to change. It's troublesome but not impossible to divide your food preparation so you can make one version "plain" and another with more vegetables. If all else fails, make her prepare her own food.

              1. Do you think she'd go for spicy baked sweet potato fries?

                I didn't always like sweet potatoes but wanted to so I began by baking a white potato and a sweet one and mashing about 1/4 of the sweet into the white, right in the jacket on my plate. Added salt & pepper and butter. Over time I increased the sweet potato and reduced the butter. Now I love them and eat baked sweet potatoes with nothing but pepper, or maybe some Smart Balance and pepper.

                Once she's able to accept and enjoy another flavor she'll be on her way to enjoying others.

                What about tempura? will she eat homemade salsa?

                Good luck!

                2 Replies
                1. re: fern

                  Slipping things she doesn't like into food that she DOES like is not really a good way to do this. I'm with the others here who understand that overcooked vegetables and being forced to eat them as children has turned MANY of us off to all things healthy and green, but no adult (or child for that matter) should be forced to eat things they know they don't like. If I found an artichoke in my potato gratin, I would be VERY unhappy with the person who slipped it in there, especially if he/she did so intentionally, knowing I didn't like it. I was not fond of cooked vegetables when I first met my husband (in fact he asked me to give him a list of the things I would not eat!) but eventually I (knowingly) tried several things he cooked and began to enjoy them. He didnt feel compelled to "expand my palate" but wanted to share the delicious dishes he had created. He was also mature enough to accept that some people just dont like the taste of some things, and there was no need to make them eat things they don't like just to please YOU.

                  1. re: fern

                    I like the tempura idea as well--battered and deep fried ANYTHING is pretty good!

                  2. I say divorce her and be done with it! Mr. Diane is Mr. Meat & Potatoes as well. He loves to brag how his grandfather was born in 1890 and lived to be 100 and never ate a single vegetable, not even raw. Mr. Diane will eat salad, but that's about it. Starchy veggies like corn & potatoes are OK, but nothing else. Raising 2 kids and trying to get them to expand their choices has been very trying. Having grown up with Hungarian cooking, everything I knew how to cook when we first got married had peppers in it. After almost 25 years, there is no point in making a rucus any longer, I have learned to accept him for what he is - limited in palate. I still make the foods I desire to eat, sometimes the kids eat it too, he leaves it on the table. He also is limited to chicken & beef. We don't eat pork and he can't eat fish or shellfish due to an iodine allergy. Get to know your neighbors, acquire lots of friends and cook for people who appreciate what you do!

                    1. I would think a single vegetable dish done well would help her overcome this. I can't think of anything on the spot, but maybe go to a restaurant or somewhere that does a ridiculously good dish with a vegetable in it, and maybe she'd be more willing to try that and other vegetables after that. Maybe it's the preparation and plain-vegetable-ness that turns her off.

                      1. Consider accommodation - make the best damned chicken, beef, pork and potato combos possible, in every type of variation and seasoning, and expand your own food ambit in those dimensions. There is a lot of depth and possibility in those four food items in the most familiar dishes.

                        Seek out your wife's preferences and indulge her.

                        Indulge your own self with veggie sides.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DockPotato

                          There you go. This is the advice I'd give as well. Make everything as interesting and delicious as you can. Make vegetables that you like the way you like them, but on the side or pick-out-able. Maybe she'll eventually try some and like them, or maybe not.

                          You can also do things like tacos with different fillings or make things that lend themselves to both fish and chicken (lemon butter sauce or some such thing) and have a different protein for yourself.

                        2. There is no "hiding" of veggies or making them more palatable to someone who is stubbornly refusing to eat them. I agree with almost everyone else. It's her/his problem, not yours. My husband was also afflicted with a vegetable-killing mother and as a result he'll only eat iceberg lettuce salad, canned peas and canned corn.
                          Most days, I make veggie sides for myself and let him just eat the meat, while I throw a bag of iceberg lettuce mix at him so he can slather French dressing on it (OK -- ewwwwwww). When I want to stray from the confines of his dietary restrictions, I trot out a few meals that are just for him -- hamsteak with grape jelly, mustard, clove sauce, baked beans and baked potato or Manwiches with Tater Tots, and I eat my salmon or frittata or whatever.
                          We've been married for over 19 years and I've found it's easier to just let him eat what he wants. Food can be such a control issue and, frankly, I have no patience for that. Leave the converting to the missionaries.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Fuser

                            For what it's worth, tomato gardening and learning to cook and prepare from scratch helped me overcome my picky eating habits. I was never a meat and potatoes only type of picky eater. Unrecognizable objects in food threw me.

                          2. IMO there's a middle road between the 007 broccoli and a blantant bowl of Brussels sprouts. It's the same way my mom got me to eat cottage cheese when I was young. She topped cottage cheese, which I disliked, with lots of fruit, which I loved, and as I ate the fruit I also ate some of the cottage cheese. She reduced the amount of fruit over time until I was eating only cottage cheese, and I love the stuff to this day. (Thanks, Mom!)

                            For you, maybe a pork, beef or chicken stir-fry with one veg (green beans? celery? onion? tomatoes? water chestnut?) and lots of meat and sauce. Make this, say, once a week for a few months, gradually increasing the amount of veg and decreasing the amount of meat.

                            Never, ever lie to her about this--if she catches you, tell her what's going on, that you're helping to expand her palate. Fly this tactic in under her radar if you can. At the end of three months, it's possible she'll be eating stir-fried green beans alone!

                            Repeat with other foods as necessary.

                            1. First of all, I'm very sorry to hear that. I agree with a lot of people here. Cook the food to kill off any strong taste (soup is a great suggestion), and then ease her into it. Sauteed onions have pretty neutral (almost sweet) taste to it and it's a good complement to the meat dish. I'm curious. What's the reason she gives for not liking vegetables? Flavor, texture, smell? Then you can probably find a way to demystify them.

                              1. I'll submit that if you truly love your wife, you'll let it go because it can cause unbearable strain on your relationship. As long as she's healthy and happy, seriously, let it go.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: southernitalian

                                  Exactly. She's an adult, not a child. Sneaking veggies into her food or talking about it being a psychological problem is rude at the least. I'm sure that she has to put up with behaviors of yours that she doesn't like as well - that's part of marriage.

                                  There seems to be a concept that being a foodie means one has to educate everyone else to be the same. Think about it this way: if you hate country music, are you going to respond positively to someone insisting your hatred is a "psychological issue" that is "troubling" to a hardcore country music fan? To be somewhat blunt, she's not the only one with a issue here - why do you need to control what she eats?

                                  If she's having health problems, then, as suggested above, have her doctor recommend a nutritionist. But that is a completely different issue from her just not wanting dim sum or whatever.

                                2. i think you need to look at this from a slightly more psychological stand point. i dont' think hiding food she doesn't like into food she does like may be the most productive at her age, unless she's completely willing to use this method to like food.

                                  first off, is she willing to change her eating habits? if she's not she may be stubborn about the change either way. why doesn't she like what she doesn't like? this could be a function of growing up with bad cooking, other bad experiences or an underdeveloped palate (or even being a super taster) where she just can't do bitterness or other flavours that feel offensive to her. lastly, if you love her enough, you'll just accept this and work aorund it for yourself and for herself. get a group of dining buddies if you must to try something interesting and new when dining out. if she at the same time can't accept that you would like to try different things and have other people that will allow you... well perhaps you've got bigger control issues.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                    Just to clarify my original response. I am not suggesting the OP hide vegetables in her food. My idea was that she may be adverse to vegetables because of her experiences with how they were prepared. Maybe as a child her mother would boil them to mush, etc. So I was suggesting to reintroduce vegetables but by incorporating them into a recipe she was familiar with and liked. So if she liked mashed potatoes then try a mashed vegetable that would be similar in taste/texture, etc. Or if she liked au gratin then put a slight twist on it. Don't trick her, be very upfront with what she is eating but the fact that the vegetable is presented in a familar dish may make it easier for her to a least taste it before refusing it.

                                    1. re: Scott M

                                      I concur; my original post was not to imply "hiding," but rather gradual inclusion and acclimation to the vegetable flavors, and then once she's used to them as incorporated flavors, perhaps she'll start to enjoy them just as they are, or at least more simply prepared and the focus themselves of their preparation...

                                  2. Alton Brown suggests that slaw is a good way to introduce vegetables in a nice, tasty way. I concur - slaw is good, and makes both a nice condiment and side dish. There are endless variations on slaw but texture seems to be the most important component - the last thing you want is soggy slaw, so salt and drain your cabbage before preparing.

                                    My overall favorite advice for eating new things came from 'The Man Who Ate Everything' by Jeffery Steingarten: if you don't want to eat something, try to find places that are preparing it well. Its easier to work your way into a taste if its awesome the first time you have it.

                                    Other options:
                                    1) next time you're grilling, cut a hole in an onion, pack it with butter and brown sugar, and wrap it in foil. put it on the grill as its heating, and leave it until your cooking is done. it should get soft and sweet - a perfect steak topper or side dish.
                                    2) next time you make breakfast, ask if you can throw some onions and green peppers, chopped fine, into the hash browns.

                                    good luck!