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Help me come up with some vegetable alternatives for cooking

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm not a professional chef, but I have little cause not to think that I'm a good one. As a professional artist, cooking feels very natural to me and it is something I have been doing most of my life. Lately I have been expanding way out of my comfort zone, learning about two new recipes a week. But as I look for new recipes, there is one major problem for me.

 

I am autistic and proud of my neurodiversity. It comes with a lot of benefits, but also some downsides. To the point I have a diminished sense of taste and smell, and I have trouble with some textures. With food this mostly manifests in a general dislike of vegetables. The texture of onions makes me want to throw up, and the blandness and texture of things like celery, non-spicy peppers, and lettuce makes me feel like I am eating plastic and I just can't eat them. Other veggies like carrots, cucumbers, and green beans are unexciting but can be used when cooked right.

 

I do enjoy certain vegetables. Spicy peppers, spinach, garlic, olives, and mushrooms. Which makes for a great pizza, but is a pitiful selection when for instance trying to cook with a wok. Onions, plain peppers, and celeries are ridiculously ubiquitous in our food culture. I don't cook only for myself, and the people I cook for can't handle spicy food like I can, so throwing a variety of hot peppers in everything is not a solution.

 

So, what kind of vegetables might I like that I haven't discovered yet? Or, is there any other filler for wok, stews, etc.?

post #2 of 13

If you like spinach, how about swiss chard? Also, did you try various asiatic vegetables in the wok? Water chestnuts, bamboo, lotus roots? For stews, how about trying parsnips, turnips, heck, why not some radish? Beets?  Sounds like you have a lot of things that you just could try - let us know how that works out and we can work on from that flavour/texture profiles!

post #3 of 13
Different lettuces have different textures. What kind of lettuce are you eating? Bib lettuce is very soft, frisée is very frizzy, romaine has a satisfying crunch, endive and radicchio are bitter, and arugula has a very peppery flavor. I suggest not giving up until you find the lettuce you like, it can be fun.

How you cut the vegetables has a dramatic impact on how it feels in your mouth. For a salad I like my carrots grated, you can do the same with other veggies too. Try different colors of peppers and cut them in a fine dice or long strips. Or roast them, they're completely different when cooked, soft and sweet.

Cauliflower is wonderful raw or roasted. It's not as harsh and stringy as broccoli.

For stir fry try eggplant and zucchini. There are so many vegetables to try. Bok choy too.

Have you tried frozen peas? Gosh those are like little tiny balls of sweetness.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 13

Is there by any chance an Asian style market in your area? There are all sorts of somewhat familiar but not quite veggies there, plenty of opportunities for exploration.

 

mjb.

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post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

For more info, you can add cauliflower and broccoli to things I cannot stand (even when dipped in cheese, which is a pretty certain test to rule them out entirely). Peas can be added to the "unexciting" category. I use peas and carrots a lot just because I cook for others, they neither add nor subtract anything to most dishes for me (but I suppose it's healthier than no veggies).

 

I have tried cooking plain peppers and cutting them very small and nothing works.

 

I will have to try some of the other things you suggest with an open mind though I am pretty wary. Aragula and bib lettuce sound ok.

 

Is there a good way to just try a lot of different veggies? I'm not sure if I should find recipes for each of these, or try them raw first, or try and combine a few of them.

 

If it helps, texturally I'm not sure why some foods trigger me and other very similar foods don't (lettuce but not spinach? bell peppers but not jalapenos? onions but not garlic?), but all of the veggies that I like have very extreme tastes, while those that I don't have very little taste at all (onions being the exception, I use onion powder oddly enough). So I guess a good start is what veggies have a lot of taste to them?

post #6 of 13

The lack of vegetable oil when baking, frying or making salads should not be a cause for panic.  I think I can suggest some.

 

Good Substitutes for Vegetable Oil

For frying purposes, the substitute will need to be an ingredient which has similarly high lipid properties. Here are some to consider.

1. Fruit Juices and Sauce - Applesauce or Cranberry Juice which Can be used in baking cookies and cakes, muffins and a range of other baked goods that use chocolate as a main ingredient.

2.  Mashed Fruits - Bananas, Pear or Apple Butter. An ideal for farm fresh fall baking when you are using a range of natural ingredients as fruits, seeds and vegetables in your baking. Spice breads, zucchini loaves and onion buns will taste great with this substitute. Bananas go well with baked chocolate dessert while fruits as pear and apple will be very versatile.

3. Yogurt - Plan/Non-fat/Flavoured which is a good substitute as it also contains fatty lipids to give similar texture to dishes. However, other fluids or liquids in the baked product will have to be reduced as yoghurt adds water.
Can be used in quick breads, such as cranberry, banana, or zucchini breads.

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by vonFiedler View Post
 

I'm not a professional chef, but I have little cause not to think that I'm a good one. As a professional artist, cooking feels very natural to me and it is something I have been doing most of my life. Lately I have been expanding way out of my comfort zone, learning about two new recipes a week. But as I look for new recipes, there is one major problem for me.

 

I am autistic and proud of my neurodiversity. It comes with a lot of benefits, but also some downsides. To the point I have a diminished sense of taste and smell, and I have trouble with some textures. With food this mostly manifests in a general dislike of vegetables. The texture of onions makes me want to throw up, and the blandness and texture of things like celery, non-spicy peppers, and lettuce makes me feel like I am eating plastic and I just can't eat them. Other veggies like carrots, cucumbers, and green beans are unexciting but can be used when cooked right.

 

I do enjoy certain vegetables. Spicy peppers, spinach, garlic, olives, and mushrooms. Which makes for a great pizza, but is a pitiful selection when for instance trying to cook with a wok. Onions, plain peppers, and celeries are ridiculously ubiquitous in our food culture. I don't cook only for myself, and the people I cook for can't handle spicy food like I can, so throwing a variety of hot peppers in everything is not a solution.

 

So, what kind of vegetables might I like that I haven't discovered yet? Or, is there any other filler for wok, stews, etc.?


What I get from what you are explaining is that you crave flavor.

 

Yes....many vegetables are bland in flavor when raw, but have you ever tried caramelizing onions?

Raw, they are bland, but slowly cooked and caramelized, they take on a flavor character of their own.

 

Roasting peppers is the same idea, as it brings out a deeper flavor profile.

 

I suggest that perhaps you re-invite some of these past vegetable dislikes and try to find better ways to prepare them to bring out their flavors.

post #8 of 13

I am just thinking....

 

What @chefross says makes a lot of sense:

Veges can be bland, but have you tried cooking them is a more Asian style? That way, they are a lot of things, but hardly bland!

 

Check out:

www.shesimmers.com

www.vietworldkitchen.com

http://www.asiancook.eu/indonesian/sayuran

www.rasamalaysia.com

www.thaitable.com

 

Also: some vegetables (fruits) easily take up flavours of other igredients. Some examples are butternut and all kind of squash and pumpkin, egg plant, courgette etc.

 

Good luck, hope this helps

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post #9 of 13

If you don’t like the texture you can change the traditional textures.

Deep fry thinly peeled:

• Parsnips

• Carrots

• Brussels sprouts leaves

• Leeks (finely sliced)

• and even Fennel tops, Basil leaves, and other Herbs

The list goes on. They all provide a nice crispy texture and with a little salt, will have you munching on them none stop.

 

Otherwise (insert vegetable) Puree is a good texture changer, and will give you an experience as if eating flavored mashed potatoes.

 

Pick up some shallots at your market as these have a bit more flavor than onions and go well with just about everything. Fine minced, sliced, or whole roasted, they are delicious especially for salads.

 

Try roasting some parsnips. Or make some roasted red peppers. Or roasted fennel bulbs. By roasting you can get a lot of the flavor out of the vegetable.

 

Also I think corn is a great versatile vegetable. My preferred ways of corn is grilled on the cob, then sliced off the cob, and into a saute pan with some shallots, red peppers, butter and S&P. Otherwise corn off the cob in with some cream cheese, sour cream, garlic, onions, S&P, is great and hits well with many peoples palates.

 

Another one is pan roasted edamame (soy beans) that are saute in some sesame oil, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. (wonderful little snack)

 

Just be creative, and look at the foods that are unappetizing and think to yourself... "How do I make this delicious?" and take it from there by adding flavors to compliment the food.

"Are you 5 o'clock ready?!" - My Chef
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post #10 of 13

I love it. The websites you sent are awesome! Do they have all the recipe of the menu there? I'd like to try one at home. :)

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by butzy View Post
 

I am just thinking....

 

What @chefross says makes a lot of sense:

Veges can be bland, but have you tried cooking them is a more Asian style? That way, they are a lot of things, but hardly bland!

 

Check out:

www.shesimmers.com

www.vietworldkitchen.com

http://www.asiancook.eu/indonesian/sayuran

www.rasamalaysia.com

www.thaitable.com

 

Also: some vegetables (fruits) easily take up flavours of other igredients. Some examples are butternut and all kind of squash and pumpkin, egg plant, courgette etc.

 

Good luck, hope this helps

I love it. The websites you sent are awesome! Do they have all the recipe of the menu there? I'd like to try one at home. :) Just like the website i found www.spitsnpieces.com.au - the food are good but I can't find the recipes.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by vonFiedler View Post
 

 

Is there a good way to just try a lot of different veggies? I'm not sure if I should find recipes for each of these, or try them raw first, or try and combine a few of them.

 

There are a lot of vegetables and it will be a time consuming project, but a very delicious project in my opinion.  Vegetables are very versatile.  They can be eaten raw, in salads, steamed, roasted, sauteed, there's no wrong combination of vegetables so the possibilities are endless.  For example, if you want to try arugula I would first eat it in a salad, preferably with balsamic vinegraite as the slight sweetness of the vinegar compliments the peppery arugula so well.  Or you could put it in a food processor with pecorino cheese, roasted almonds and raw garlic and olive oil and make it into a pesto.  Then I would try using it on a hamburger or a sandwich - my favorite is proscuitto, asiago, fig jam and arugula.  Next, I would try to cook with it, it doesn't need much.  I just make a simple pasta dish and toss in a whole bag of arugula right at the end so that it wilts.  

 

Cauliflower as another example.  I like to eat it raw with hummus.  Or I like to steam it and dress it with a lemon vinegrette.  Or I like to toss it with cumin/coriander/red pepper flakes and olive oil and roast in the oven until golden.  In every one of those instances the cauliflower has a different flavor AND texture.  Or you could try Siduri's famous pan roasted cauliflower and garlic pasta.

 

Cabbage, it can be sliced raw with other grated veggies like carrots and be served as a coleslaw or with an asian dressing with peanuts.  Or it can be stuffed and braised.  Or it can be made into kimchi, or sauerkraut.  

 

There's a wonderful cookbook called Plenty but Ottolenghi that features only vegetables.

 

Worst case scenario you can do what Moms all over America do to sneak veggies into their picky kids' food.  Grate vegetables into a bolognese sauce.  Make zucchini bread or zucchini fritters.  Jessica Seinfeld wrote a cookbook called Deceptively Delicious, where she finds very creative ways to use vegetables in an attempt to get more veggies into kids that don't like veggies.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #13 of 13
This may be a redundant suggestion but check out a few Indian and Vege restaurants.
Lots of different dishes to try.
Order half plates if possible.
Make note of what you like then come back here for recreation tips.
OBTW the spicy baked cauliflower dish @Koukouvagia mentioned is awesome.
I have made it a couple of times with different flavor profiles.
Not only delish but gorgeous as well.

mimi
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