If At First You Don’t Succeed…

….try, try again.

Like I talked about in my diet evolution post…our taste buds and likes are constantly changing and evolving, as is our overall diet.

I once read that it can take up to 42 tries for a child to like a food that it is being introduced to for the first time. I don’t have any children (well, besides my cats) but I could see how it would be frustrating for a parent to try FORTY-TWO times to get their tot to like broccoli, brussel sprouts, or peas. That’s some serious stick-to-itiveness. However, it does go to show that just because you don’t think you like something once doesn’t mean it won’t eventually make it to the top of your favorite foods list.

I think my parents may know this more than most – when I was younger I would only eat “yellow” foods like mac-n-cheese, French fries, chicken fingers, etc…Mashed potatoes? I could have sworn the texture was like throw-up. Lettuce (or anything green for that matter)? Yeah right!! I remember thinking it was a huge deal when I would actually sit down with a bag of carrots or a cucumber; nevermind that said veggies were dipped in bacon flavored ranch (sick!).

Then one day I tried veggies again. And I loved them…almost all of them! I was about 17 before I actually had my first baked potato and I’ve never looked back. Over the years I’ve gone back to foods that I swore I hated and tried them again just to see if I really didn’t like them or only thought I didn’t like them. More often than not I have a “ohmygosh this is what I’ve been missing” kind of experience.

It’s a good thing that I like veggies too now that my diet is entirely plant-based. One cannot survive on French fries alone (trust me, I’ve tried). It’s funny for me to think that some of the foods that I wouldn’t go near when I was younger are now everyday staples in my diet. I understand that some foods can definitely be strange when you are considering dipping your toe into the vegan or vegetarian waters. Some can be foreign and a lot have a connotation of “hippie food” but just give it time and make sure you keep surging forward. You may find you love it or you may reaffirm your dire hatred (yellow mustard, I’m looking at you). You’ll never know until you try. So, if at first you don’t succeed my friends: try, try again!

Main foods that I have re-discovered over the past two years:

  • Almond milk  – when I first started with veganism I was drinking only soy milk. I was so scared to take my first sip of it but surprised at how creamy and sweet it was. Then one day I decided to make the change to almond milk. I took one sip and spit it back out – it seemed like the most foul beverage ever. But, for some reason I kept at it. Now almond milk is the only non-dairy milk that I drink. I use it for smoothies, baking, oatmeal, and even sometimes drink it straight from the glass – without spitting it out! Give almond milk a shot by making it the go-to base of your morning smoothie. Start with the Strawberry-Lemon-Ginger Smoothie (I’m addicted).

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  • Almond butter – First of all, let’s be honest here: peanut butter is the best nut butter there is, end of story. However, with as much nut butter as I tend to eat I know it’s important to mix it up in order to get the most benefits from a variety of nuts and seeds. It took me a long, long time to like almond butter, but now I eat it more often than peanut butter. Friday’s Raw Spicy Almond Noodles are a great way to start eating almond butter.

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  • Beans – Yes, I used to hate ALL beans. I wouldn’t go near them and I was pretty sure they were the worst thing ever. But, as I was leaning toward a plant-heavy diet I decided to give them another shot. It started with black beans (which in my opinion is the most neutral bean out there) and eventually worked to garbanzos (hummus!), and now I eat all beans (with the majority being black, garbanzo, pinto, and cannelloni).  I eat beans just about every day, they are one of the foundations of my plant-based diet. My favorite bean recipes include Texas Tacos and Spicy Cajun Red Bean Soup

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  • Tofu – it took me a few tries to start liking tofu. The main problem was that I just wasn’t preparing it right; it would still be soggy/mushy and flavorless, yuck! Then one day I read about pressing the liquid out of tofu as well as using a good marinade. My favorite tofu dishes today include stir-fries and scrambles (both coming later this week) and of course Buffalo Tofu Pizza. I don’t eat a ton of tofu but I do enjoy it a few times a month as a great source of plant-protein. Check out this Caprese Sandwich for a tasty and easy tofu dish.

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  • Brussels sprouts – They smell like feet, okay. When you’re a kid, it’s hard to want to try a vegetable that’s green and smells like feet. But now that I’m a grown-up and I’ve discovered the wonders of roasting veggies, I often actually crave roasted brussels sprouts! Also, I found out this week that it’s brussels sprout not brussel sprouts and I don’t know how to feel about that. For a newbie: try quartering them, drizzling with EVOO and salt/pepper, and roasting at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Yum! Or you could always try this Warm Brussel Sprout and White Bean Salad

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  • Non-white pasta – I’m willing to bet that almost all of you reading this grew up with white pasta and rice. Now we know that those foods aren’t the best for you as they offer little fiber and can actually make our blood sugar spike. Once I learned this, I made a concerted effort to start adding in whole wheat pasta to my diet; however, I found the taste to be quite rough and the pasta never seems to get tender. Enter brown rice pasta! It’s a delicious whole grain pasta that is available at every grocery store these days. It gets tender and soft and in my opinion, gives ol’ white pasta a run for it’s money. I like to use it in Chili Soup and Vegan Mexican Mac-n-Cheeze

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  • Greens – A few years ago, if I ate a salad it was iceberg lettuce drowned in a creamy dressing. These days I eat some sort of greens every day, spinach and kale being my favorites. Spinach is my favorite green for throwing into smoothies as it doesn’t overwhelm the flavors. Kale is great with a banana smoothie but I prefer it in salads or as kale chips (addicting). I make my kale chips raw in the dehydrator but you can always use an oven: massage them with a little EVOO and salt/pepper and roast at 350 for about 10 minutes (check on them toward the end so they don’t burn. Check out my smoothie recipes and feel free to throw a handful or two of spinach into any of them! My most recent kale salad obsession is the Guacamole Kale Salad.

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Overall, all of the foods that I have introduced (or re-introduced) into my diet over the past few years have made a positive impact on my overall health as well as the happiness of my taste buds. There are still foods that I just cannot eat like pickles, mushrooms, capers, olives, yellow mustard, and I’m sure many, many more. Maybe one day I’ll try them again and think “what have I been missing!?” But until then, I will just keep eating my beans and brussels sprouts.

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Spill it…what vegan foods are you afraid to try??

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7 thoughts on “If At First You Don’t Succeed…

  1. Wow, we have VERY similar likes and dislikes !! Haha, no wonder I like all the recipes you post – no mushrooms, mustard, or pickles! (: PS: My dad just came home from the grocery store with crunchy almond butter, which I’ve never tried because Trader Joe’s never has crunchy that’s unsaturated. I’m so excited because I’ve heard you rave about it! 😀

  2. Great column (or should I say blog?). Your repertoire of favorites has certainly changed from your old chicken finger days! I really like the way you gave examples and pictures of how someone could incorporate each food into their diet.

  3. Pingback: Two years of blogging: my favorites so far | Mile High Healthy

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