December 4, 2012

Titillate Your Tongue With More Veggies

On November 29, 2012, redOrbit reported on how a study found that meals served with a vegetable were received more positively than those without. In the study, researchers conducted twenty-two laddering interviews and sent out surveys to five hundred mothers who had two or more children under the age of eighteen. In both, participants were asked to grade meals given with or without meals and then describe the meals and the cook. Children who participated were also asked to list their favorite vegetables.

The results found that even mothers who were not “veggie lovers” preferred meals that had a vegetable over those that did not. Furthermore, participants described meals with vegetables more positively with words such as “loving” and “thoughtful.” As I read through this article and subsequently researched the study, I felt a twinge of hope.

Obviously, I am a vegetable lover, and one who is indiscriminate; I love all vegetables. I love the way they look, how they taste, what they provide for my health…all of it. My mother, on the other hand, hates most vegetables. She eats vegetables simply because she knows they are good for her health. She would not be a veggie lover, but she did raise one. She was the model parent in this regard because we always had a vegetable with our dinner plates.

Now, when I prepare meals, I never leave out the veggie. In fact, I often have a salad and a cooked vegetable of some sort. I do not believe that a meal is complete without some sort of fruit or vegetable. Not only does the vegetable add flavors and nutrients, but it also makes the plate look prettier. Of course, a pretty meal is not crucial to eating, but it sure helps.

When our dinner plates look pretty, they also look edible. We want to eat because the meal looks so appetizing. Vegetables add to this aesthetic side of the dinner plate. Their colors appeal to us and compliment the colors of the other foods on our plates. Vegetables make meals more beautiful.

But how they look is really secondary to how they taste. For many people, vegetables alone do not taste appetizing. But with just a little creativity in the kitchen, a vegetable can add flavor to an already delicious meal. For carnivores, think of the roast beef. Most people add at least carrots and potatoes to the cut of beef while it roasts. The vegetable and tuber then meld their flavors with that of the roast to create a scrumptious main course and side dish. Not only do the carrots and potatoes add to the flavor of the beef, but they also spice up the gravy.

This roast beef dish is enhanced by the vegetables added to it, but it is not alone in this. Another great example of how vegetables improve a dish is quiche. Sure, one can make a quiche with just ham and bacon and cheese, but a quiche is at its best when spinach and tomatoes are thrown into the mix. These two veggies really add to the overall quality of the quiche as well as compliment the other ingredients. As a vegetarian, I prefer my quiche with eggs, cheese, spinach, tomato, and peppers. Yum. Yum.

And if these two examples aren’t enough, think of spaghetti sauce. The most savory sauces always have peppers, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and other veggies added to them. The more veggies in a spaghetti sauce, the better the experience will be.

Yep, the veggies definitely make eating more pleasurable. On top of that, we have many options in our veggies, and this study showed that even kids like different options. In fact, the study found that children’s tastes changed with more exposure to other veggies. So, add those veggies because they only make food taste better and improve the entire eating experience.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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