Suggestions for developing my vegetable palate
I dislike most vegetables. Lots of people tell me that at some point in their life, their palate changed and they actually began to like/love vegetables. That never happened to me. My palate did change, but it developed a more deep appreciation and love for all things spicy and rich.
I've grown tired of salads to meet my daily vegetable requirements. Aside from the obvious "salad" veggies (carrots, cabbage, lettuce, radishes, celery), I do eat green beans, black beans, and corn. I really, really want to learn to like vegetables. Can anyone suggest some killer recipes that will assist in my journey??
I have a husband while growing up he never had a fresh vegetable except iceberg lettuce. HIs single mom, was on a budget and they ate canned veggies. I'm not knocking it, because my parents would sometimes give us canned veggies too. But we also had a garden and that's where I learned about really good green veggies,potatoes, fresh corn and green beans.
I didn't approach his dislike with any one particular method. I cooked them the way I knew how and used many recipes. Gratines are wonderful and not that I say bake them all, its one way. You'll probably do best experimenting. Some people love roasted brocolli, but there's so many ways, so many drizzles to drizzles, so many flavors, herbs and garlic!! Cabbage was the one thing I surprised him with, he really disliked it. I cook cabbage so many ways, stir fried, stewed (so good!) and raw, in tacos. Do as I do, people post recipes and techniques here on chowhound all the time, they're amazing! Use soy sauce, and ponzu or bacon fat, onions, garlic, and seasonings.mmmm think I'll make some cabbage for tonight....pomegranate juice reduced is a wonderful thing on roasted brussel sprouts-like balsamic. Mix the veggy side dish and use different potatoes, like the yukon golds- wonderfully creamy. Oh and before I forget, squash. There is a world of squash. Simple way for patty pans, steam them and lightly butter, top with buttered bread crumbs. Grill asaparagus with lemon and garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Eggplant. there's one for you! Really interesting you can handle it like a protein. I make fresh green beans all the time, and my kids just beg for the recipe Saute fresh spinach with olive oil, garlic and lemon juice, be sure to get a lot of spinach! You'll love this one.
Good luck I hope this gives you some ideas...
One of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks, I think it is "Invitation to Indian Cooking" has a fantastic braised cauliflower recipe that just sings! I was so surprised by it that I rely on it often as a side dish for plain roasted chicken or pork (most meals I am not up for dealing with more than one "recipe").
I also love Chinese stir fries that are heavy on the vegetables (Yu Hsiang eggplant, dry-fried string beans)..
I always used to just boil peas and put butter on them, until I discovered the Italian preparation of adding sauteed onion/shallot and/or pancetta/prosciutto. Much yummier!
I think the key is boosting the tastiness with props like spices, other strong flavors like garlic, as well as cheese and meats as condiments to start out with if you are not a committed vegetarian. As you say: "spicy and rich"… which can include vegetables!
You can also make nice frittatas with more vegetable than egg: really a nice way to transform spinach or zucchini (grated, salted, and wrung out of moisture).
My SIL makes a killer artichoke lasagne.
you say you like spicy things...how about veggies - cooked to texture you like - in a rich, spicy sauce, like gado-gado or thai peanut sauce?
I find that I need to have a richer, heavier sauce in the winter as a veggie. Don't worry too much about oil as long it's not ridiculous amount.
Personally, I like spicy dishes with veggies that are cooked through- like African peanut stew, Jamaican rice and peas. Don't know if you like sound of those, if you do, I can post you links/recipes..
Also, if you can get access, good fresh produce can help a long way toward liking veggies...
I would start with adding veggies to other foods that you already love. Add some chopped and pan roasted zuchinni to pasta dishes. My mom actually used to grate it and put it in all kinds of stuff when we were kids. Chopped frozen spinace can also be added to all sort of things from baked ziti to hummus to mashed potatoes etc. Chop up some fresh baby spinach and put it on top of home made pizza. I weat it developed a nuttiness that's akin to bacon
I ador veggie stir fry. Make some spicy fajitas with anything you have in your fridge.
Ina Garten has a recipe for roasted broccili that is to DYE for.
This being said, I grew up in California wans was raised by hippies so veggie tales were the largest portion or our diet.
My family is from the south, I grew up eating veggies but I didn't love some varieties until later in life (and some, I still don't like). One thing I wouldn't eat as a child was tomatoes, I liked ketchup and tomato sauce but didn't like the texture of tomatoes by the same token, I'd load my collards or peas with raw onions and hot pepper vinegar at 5 years old. I agree with many of the other posters here: try making the veggies in different ways; think of it as an episode of "Chopped" and you're given a veggie to make something with. Let your imagination be your guide.
Once I started gardening, I found I really liked more veggies than I thought and started thinking of what kind of out of the ordinary veggie I could add every year and what I could do with it. Nothing tastes as good as something you planted with your own hands and picked at the peak of freshness. One thing I now love is tomatoes...a very simple way to make them is to heat a skillet with a bit of olive oil; cut them in about 1/2 inch slices....quickly sear them on both sides, seasoned with your favorite blends (I love Mrs. Dash line of blends as I'm trying to lower my salt intake, try the southwestern blend since you like spice) serve on a plate with the residual warm oil drizzled over the top. Sometimes I'll add a sprinkle of my favorite cheese. You can do this with any tomato: cherry, roma, etc. Since you like potatoes, try making diced zucchini and/or yellow squash with onions. Dice the veggies and add to a skillet over medium low heat with a little oil or gild the lily and cook it in bacon grease, until they cook down and are caramelized, stirring occasionally. You'll want to eat the whole pan!
If you like pickles, try quick pickling some veggies. Recently, I made both carrot w/ dill and garlic green bean pickles as part of a veg tray. It's as easy as heating up some vinegar, water, salt, a bit of sugar, and herbs & spices til boiling and pouring over the veggies in a jar or other container. Refrigerate 24 hours; these are addicting and I don't like regular pickles at all. This can be done with mostly any veggie, I've done it with cherry tomatoes also. Another thing I did is make a hot chow chow out of my bumper crop of squash and zucchini to which I added onions, carrots, cabbage, shredded broccoli, etc. Fabulous on hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled meats, in a veg wrap, etc.
do you like frittatas or quiches (crustless or not)? i do any number of variations, often using almond milk. start with onions and garlic and build from there....
broccoli, mushroom, and parmesan, and nutmeg (dash)
eggplant, tomato, zucchini, basil, oregano, rosemary, goat or feta cheese
spinach, mushroom, tomato, gruyere
add them to chili
add them to meatloaf - spinach, eggplant, mushrooms (personal fave addition)
add them to burrito or taco or enchilada fillings (i do chicken, onion, green chiles and shredded carrot enchiladas with my homemade sauce)
zucchini muffins or pancakes
do potato latkes but do a mix of zucchini, carrots, onion, sweet potato and regular potato
make a bed of onions, fennel, asparagus, carrots, sliced brussels, herbs, etc. and roast a chicken or meat on top. the juices will nourish the veggies.
...of course, i suggest these as an ardent veggie lover... sorry if none sound palatable!
Spicy and rich--I'm thinking ratatouille. I learned to make it with the recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which is a big complicated PITA, but comes out delicious.
Eggplant caviar? Baba ganoush?
Just streight baked sweet potatoes or delicata squash with a little butter or yogurt--very delicious.
I second the idea of curries--and a lot of them take off from potatoes--aloo gobi is cauliflower and potato, Aloo matar is potato and pea curry
oh and try turnovers--spinach and cheese ravioli, spring rolls, samosas filled with curried peas and potatoes.
Andf how do you feel about pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee, etc? These count.
Ratatouille doesn't have to be hard, or a pita.
For a really quick version, slice the eggplant and zucchini/courgettes and tomatoes.
Stack 'em like lasagna in a baking pan, drizzling each later with olive oil, sprinkling with salt and pepper, and laying a fresh basil leaf or two on each layer.
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes -- cut into squares and enjoy.
I too didn't like many vegetables growing up, but I suspect it was partly because my mother didn't have much access to good produce; she bought alot of canned vegs (think square carrot/pea mixes) and she didn't flavor them at all. For a while, in my mid-twenties I was a vegetarian but didn't cook too much at the time and eventually went back to eating everything.
In the last 5 years, I've eaten more vegetables than ever before, and for myself, the easier the prep/healthier, the better. I roast these veggies on a regular basis, depending on what is seasonal and available at my farmers market: cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, butternut squash, zucchini, brussels sprouts, green beans and carrots. I keep the flavorings simple (olive oil or butter, a little kosher salt, and an herb). I also make alot of spinach, chard and baby bok choy when I have the time/energy (requires more prep). The best thing I do is make a very simple dipping sauce that goes with almost everything, and not just vegetables, it's good with pork and fish. I always have a container in the fridge.
Lemon Dill Sauce
3 tablespoon mayo (I use nonfat)
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
Blend all the ingredients. Adjust flavors as desired.
I am constantly on the hunt for new recipes and ways to eat my veggies. I have way too many recipes to cook in my lifetime but I'm determined to keey trying new ones as much as possible. Last week I made a cauliflower recipe (with Dijon mustard and breadcrumbs) I found here on Chowhound. You might want to look at some old threads, not just about vegetables but other meals as well (holidays, special occasions etc) and see if anything appeals to you. Also try searcing epicurious.com as that is a huge resource for recipes.
i feel your pain. as a vegetarian, it's been even more of a problem. i never outgrew my childhood veggie-related pickiness. but i've made it work, and now at least half of what i consume in the day are veggies. here are a few suggestions.
1) i LOVE potatoes. so that was my jumping off point. i toss russet potato wedges (or fingerlings, baby potatoes, cubed reds, etc.) with carrot rounds, onion wedges, and a few cloves of garlic, then toss with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with s+p and a little cayenne. roast for 30 minutes, tossing a few times. toward the end, i'll add in other quick-cooking veggies like green beans, broccoli, etc. these spicy veggies are YUMMY!
2) we never ate greens growing up, and i've had an aversion to them for years. recently, i bought a bag of frozen spinach from whole foods and started making a spinach rice that i will sometimes eat every day. it's so addictive. i saute onion, garlic, and rice in a drop of olive oil until the rice is toasted. add s+p, and sometimes chopped herbs or chili flakes. then i pour in some veggie stock (or chicken stock would work) and simmer for 10 minutes. then add a handful of spinach and let the rice finish cooking. top with parmesan.
this would work in lots of ways though. greens are easy to put into other dishes. i personally don't taste them at all unless they make up the majority of the dish. try adding wilted greens to your grains (pasta, quinoa, couscous, rice, etc.) or into baked dishes (stuffed meats, lasagna, casseroles, etc.).
3) these are like crack, seriously: blanche trimmed green beans, then immediately cool in ice water. heat some oil in a skillet and plenty of sliced garlic. add green beans to skillet. then add this sauce: 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part oil of choice (sesame, peanut, olive), a nice scoop of brown sugar, and a healthy squirt of chili-garlic sauce. mix well with fork or whisk. dump sauce onto green beans in skillet and toss constantly. if green beans are still crispy, these are the TASTIEST things i've ever had. in my family, we even serve these at thanksgiving and xmas dinner. they've become a modern favorite, eaten with anything from pasta to filet mignon to salmon.
4) try adding chopped veggies to wraps or pita. if you chop them small enough, and fill the wrap up with your "good" veggies (carrots, cabbage, lettuce, etc.), you will be slowly introducing them into your diet. add a good spread like hummus, mashed beans, or even some buttermilk dressing, and there you go.
5) the easiest way for me to get new veggies in was to do them in veggie soups. for instance, i HATE zucchini and always have. and i still do. but if i add it into a colorful veggie soup, it takes on the flavors of my yummy broth and i can't tell it's there. my fave soup veggies are onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, chopped green beans, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, and peas or corn. i saute them in a drop of olive oil until fragrant and softened, with whatever grain i like (small pasta or rice), then add broth. you can add some canned or fresh chopped tomatoes or tomato paste here too if you want, as well as a can of white or garbanzo beans. just simmer until veggies are cooked through and serve with crusty bread.
lastly, just a note--my nutritionist always told me it didn't matter where i got my produce variety from. i mean in terms of fruits vs. veggies. as long as i'm eating a variety of colors, it doesn't matter if i eat the same ones every day, or whether they're fruits or veggies. so i get my reds from tomato sauces, apples, berries; oranges from tangelos and carrots; yellows from bell peppers; greens from spinach, peas, broccoli, green beans, etc. i don't eat more than 6 or 7 veggies on a regular basis, but dress and prepare them differently and i haven't gotten tired of any of them yet.
Another thought -- a lot of us who have kids end up pureeing lots of veggies into other things...carrot cake is an obvious one, but I used to put zucchini in my pasta sauce...add pureed spinach to the ricotta in lasagna.
Sound rather primitive, but perhaps if you started doing things like that (adding pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes springs to mind, too)...you could slowly increase the ratio of pureed veg to help yourself adjust to the flavor.
Then there are things like moussaka and eggplant parmagian...still veggies, but all dolled up so they don't taste like veggies.
Can I recommend a good basic veg book? It is the Williams-Sonoma "New Flavors for Vegetables" and includes yummy and very simple recipes such as:
- Fava Bean Saute with Marjoram and Feta
- Marinated Grilled Baby Leeks
- Sauteed English Peas with Garlic and Sesame
- Steamed New Potatoes with Chive Oil
- Grilled Sweet Corn with Maple Cayenne Butter
- Spicy Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts
- Roasted Beets with Orange and Herbed Goat Cheese
- Shell Beans with Butternut Squash, Bacon and Sage
- Braised Mustard Greens with Pancetta and Lemon
- Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Hazelnuts and Brown Butter
It is worth it but what the heck - I'll post this recipe, anyway!
Spicy Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts
1/3 c rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper
1 English cuke
1/4 thinly-sliced red onion
1 thinly-sliced jalapeno
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro (can obviously be omitted for non-cilantro lovers)
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
Combine sugar, vinegar, S and P in small pan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Dissolve sugar. Let cool completely.
Thinly slice cukes lengthwise with a peeler (recipe doesn't say that but to me the ribbons are prettier) and place in bowl with onion and chile. Pour over vinegar mixture. Let stand at least 30 min. at room temp.
Coarsely chop cilantro and peanuts and stir into salad at the last minute.
I made this Sunday to go along with Bon Appetit's amazing Thai noodles with ground chicken. I wanted extra salad for lunches, so made three cucumbers worth, and we ate it all. All of it. Two of us. It's awesome. So good that I made another helping of it last night for dinner. I'm addicted. Salty and sweet and spicy and refreshing. SO GOOD. Thank you!
Oh, they made it hard to find, didn't they? It only came up with I Googled, and clearly it's from someone typing it in. I wonder why it wasn't automatically inputted. This was from a reader request. maybe those don't get posted? Anyway, here it is:
Finding different ways to prepare vegetables that you already know you like is one way to do it. If you like green beans, try flash-frying them with a little garlic, ginger, and soy and some water chestnuts for texture; or crockpot them with bacon and onion for hours in chicken stock and add cubed potatoes for the last hour. Delicious served with cornbread; a full meal in itself. If you like black beans and corn, try a mixture of beans, corn, diced onion, cubed tomatoes, a little bellpepper and some lime, salt and pepper (minced cilantro if you enjoy that flavor) and use it to stuff into tortillas with a bit of grilled steak or chicken or some cooked prawns. You can make wonderful vegetable soups, clear or creamed, chunky or not; a marvelous way to incorporate veg. deliciously. Try looking at different ethnicities for ways and means to prepare: spinach is delicious just quickly sauteed by itself and dressed with a little butter, salt, and pepper; or you can saute and serve it cold with sesame oil, mirin and sesame seeds; or do a sag paneer; spinach stewed with Indian pot cheese that you can purchase at a good market. Baby carrots, steamed and dressed with curry powder, honey and orange juice are a good bet, and you might also enjoy shredding zucchini with carrots and quickly steaming it, then serving with a little tarragon and olive oil and salt. Cabbage stuffed with meat and rice and vegetables and braised in a sweet/sour tomato sauce is good stuff; you might want to check into something like spanakopita (spinach and feta and onion in layers of phyllo dough) or ratatouille (eggplant, onions, tomatoes, zucchini; herbs and spices, braised and served as a pasta sauce, a side dish, a bruschetta topping...)
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it can be really fun if you don't look at veggies strictly as a side dish, because that can get bo-ring very quickly. They can be used in so many other ways; mac and cheese with steamed broccoli florets mixed in; veggie-loaded chicken pot pie, pasties......
enjoy your vegetable sojourn.......world of good eatin' out there!
I like almost all veggies, but I don't love cabbage and radishes. I think if you already like those, it's not a taste thing, but maybe a texture. I hated mushroom because they were mushy when I was younger. Then I realized they are a sponge for flavor and I adore them now. I don't love portabellas still, but a friend of mine, grilled them and served them with fresh mozzarella and a balsamic marinated roasted pepper and I couldn't stop eating them.
When my boys were in grade school, the standard here with most vegetables in the cabbage family (along with spinach and haricots verts) was just one formula: steamed but cooked through, not al dente and not mushy, garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil and plenty of lemon or sometimes mild vinegar. The lemon or vinegar (essential in my case and deliberate) worked like a charm. Now they love vegetables and are open to all kinds, even onions, (except peas). I'm much more creative with cooking different vegetables for them now.
I can understand your predicament here. I have been a vegetarian now for over 10 years, but when I first became one, I was not a fan of many vegetables. (I'm still not a huge fan of the "typical" vegetarian vegetables like mushrooms, beans, and squash). I also had the same deal with tomatoes and mushy veggies.
One way that I began to like tomatoes was by serving them on something crispy (like a piece of bread). I would cut them very thinly and serve with some cheese (which I LOVE) and maybe some fresh herbs. Now, something that used to make me gag is a staple in my diet.
I agree with putting vegetables in your everyday eats. If you're making pasta, throw some blanched broccoli or green beans in. It not only flavors the vegetables, but it means that you'll have more food and probably eat less of whatever the base food is (mac n cheese, pasta, rice, etc.).
Also, because I too hate the mushy vegetables, I suggest adding vegetables a few minutes later than suggested in a recipe. If you're making a soup, know the cooking time of the vegetables and add them to the pot accordingly (i.e. leafy vegetables at the very end). I make tons of vegetable soups, and I try and add potatoes before the carrots and cabbage at the very end to ensure nothing is too overcooked. Not to shameless self promote, but I have some recipes you could try http://veggieliv.blogspot.com/. Recipes like the kale and barley soup, Greek spinach soup, and Southwestern orzo pasta are unbelievably healthy and also give proper cooking times for crispier vegetables.
Good luck! It's just a matter of trial and error.
and since Brussels sprouts are such a CH fave:
I'm not a natural veggie eater myself. I've got some standbys though:'
-Turkey/vegetarian chili. I make it with black beans and chickpeas and add whatever veggies seem right at the time (tomatoes, shredded carrots, shredded zucchinis, peppers, etc.) Serve with shredded cheese over brown rice or barley or a sweet potato.
-Soup: I either roast some root vegetables and puree them or combine ground turkey breast, herbs and veggies in a clear broth. The latter approach is a great way to make those health greens like chard and kale more palatable.
-stir fry: my favorite is to pick a good stir fry sauce, and stir fry a bunch of veggies with buckwheat noodles.
-En Papillote (did I spell that right?) - I place slices of potato or zucchini on foil and top with thin-sliced carrots, peppers, mushrooms, whatever. And sometimes a chicken breast. Add grated parm/romano/whatever and herbs and then seal up the foil and bake it.
I've come to rely greatly on those frozen Dorot spices and grated hard cheeses :)
I think your problem (or issue) with vegetables is that you eat them raw.
Vegetables -- just about all them -- really blossom with flavor when cooked.
Try roasting, grilling, steaming, boiling, or even stir-frying them.
Let's take brocolli as an example.
Grilling. Simply cut a head of brocolli in half, or in quarters (depending on its size), and leave it on a hot grill until it develops a nice char on the outside and is fork tender.
Steaming. This is my favorite way to enjoy brocolli. It makes the thing really sweet without depriving the vegetable of its natural flavor.
Stir-frying. Use the florets in a quick stir-fry with other veggies like carrots.
Pick a vegetable of the week and play with your food! Either what looks good...what's on sale....what the guy in the produce department/farmer's market says is good this week...heck, run 'em a-z if you want.
Check with us here, or any good cookbook, or another decent website, and find out about the vegetable you've chosen for this week and different ways to prepare it.
Try it raw, steamed, sauteed, roasted, fried, etc., etc., etc -- see what you like!
They tell us as parents that kids need to try a vegetable 5-7 times before you can accept that they just plain don't like it (as opposed to don't like how it looks/smells/what color it is, etc., etc., etc)...don't be ashamed to use the same scale for yourself.
Asparagus is a good example..it's not so hot fresh, and it's *awful* canned, and only vaguely edible when frozen (to me)...but steam it or roast it on the grill, and just stand back, because it's ALL MINE. (and white asparagus in Germany in the spring? oy.)
I like the vegetable of the week idea, and I'm sure we'd all happily help you with it. Pick one for next week, start a new post, and we'll all brainstorm!
For now, also, I'll throw out a quick zucchini saute, which you can make a little spicy with cayenne or just lots of black pepper, and also sliced carrots sauteed with fresh and pickled ginger. Zucchini is here: http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/08/my-...
What is it you dislike about vegetables? That might help us make suggestions.
Rich and spicy: how about vegetables in curries? I do Thai curries with some combination of eggplant, cauliflower, okra, beans, carrots and a protein. Stirfries are another possibility with a spicy sauce.
I think it's more of a texture thing for me. I prefer raw (hence the salads), but a lot of vegetables aren't meant to be eaten raw. If they are cooked, I prefer firm (e.g. green beans & corn) or pureed (black beans/pinto beans). Not much in between. For example, I hate raw tomatoes, but adore most things tomato based - salsas (but not too chunky), pasta sauce & bloody marys :)
Well, then puree veggies and add spices. You can puree things like cauliflower and brocolli to come up with a texture like beans or mashed potatoes ... I assume if you like pureed beans, you like mashed potatoes Then you can spice away the puree to your heart's content.
Microwave stuff so it is al dente. Don't cook things to a mush.
Since it isn't flavor, but texture, this might not do it for you ... but a squirt of lime juice brightens the flavors of most veggies. Seriously .. you don't like tomatoes? Have you tried good hierloom tomatoes.
What about soups? Do you like soups?
Stop buying produce from supermarkets and seek out good farm stands and farmers markets.
The nearest farmers market is about 25 miles away. I don't even know if they're open in the winter months. There are a few garden stands that show up in spring and summer with a few miles of me. I have found that my Publix carries good fruit and what little produce I do buy is always good.
I've never tried hierloom tomatoes, but I've always thought they looked gorgeous. There's a place south of me "Petals from the Past" that specialize in antique vegetables and flowers. They sell seeds and live plants, but I'm not sure they sell produce.
Sheila, when it re-opens you have to grab some heirloom tomatoes from Pepper Place. Have you tried the tomato stack at hot and hot? When tomatoes are in season it's a thing of wonder. The (truckers) Farmers Market on Finley is open year around I believe but the produce varies by season. You won't find heirloom tomatoes there but you can get some decent veggetables. Plus the taqueria there is good.
I grew up hating almost all vegetables. But sometime in my twenties I went to a friend's house and she served broccoli with cheese sauce. Not the healthiest intro to veggies but it worked. So that's one way to try. Second, if you like rich and spicy--not quite sure what that means specifically--start adding vegetables to those dishes so they're combined with flavors you like. A third way is to start roasting vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper in a hot over until they are brown and tender--they become sweet. Fourth, add more vegetables to you salad. Slice raw fennel fine...it tastes like licorice. Do the same for arugula and spinach. Fifth, and one of the easiest, is to throw a handful or two of spinach/arugula into many pasta dishes and soups. It just kind of melts into it without becoming a major flavor. And when all else fails, make minestrone.
I've tried the roasted cauliflower, but didn't really care for it that much. I can tolerate marinated asparagus that been roasted. I'd really like to steer clear of cheese sauces and alfredo sauces (which I dearly love!) because they seem to negate the healthiness of what I'm trying to consume.
My Mom was in the same sort of funk. One of the best ways to do many veg is to roast them to bring out their natural sweetness. Roasted veg are a totally different thing, are easy to do and the variety of recipes and combinations is unlimited. Grilling is also high up on my list; in fact, the highest but we have several feet of snow on our deck at the moment.
Maybe start out with roasted carrots - just toss with some olive oil, minced garlic and a few herbs and spread them out on a baking sheet and roast at 400-425 for 20-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the carrots). Or use whole garlic cloves which are wonderful roasted as well; spread them on bread or use in tons of recipes like roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I often melt butter and maple syrup and brush that on carrots a few times while roasting in the oven. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, beets, fennel, cabbage, parsnips, corn, green beans, asparagus and so on are all wonderful grilled or roasted. Of course you can season them in a multitude of ways!