Gateway Vegetables: What’s your story?

by | Jun 22, 2011

Photo by aechempati

There was a tremendous response to Monday’s guest post by Cheryl-Ann Roberge about how a fateful afternoon and some grilled veggies changed her life forever. Several of you reached out on Facebook/Twitter and mentioned you had your own gateway veggie stories.

Mine was eggplant. Once I realized eggplant didn’t have to be a slimy pile of mush, I figured there was hope for any vegetable. Since then I’ve learned to love all my childhood nemeses including beets, lima beans and brussels sprouts.

Every story like this is inspirational, and I’d love to hear yours. Please tell the story of your gateway vegetable in the comments below, and throughout the day I’ll update this post with my favorites.

What is your gateway vegetable?

“My gateway veggie was most definitely broccoli. Not because I never liked broccoli before (because I did, sort of), but because the first day I tried roasting it to a slight char with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper my eyes widened and my tastebuds exploded and my life has never been the same. That day, I ate two entire heads of roasted broccoli in one sitting, shoveling it into my mouth like I would french fries. Now I want to grill or roast any and every type of vegetable and they turn out delicious every time.” ~Kaylan

“I grew up with parents who HATE any veggie other than corn and green beans, so I always thought I hated them too. My last year of college I spent Thanksgiving with my favorite professor’s family (it was too expensive to fly home for the weekend) and to be polite, I took some of the asparagus dish he spent all morning making–and it was amazing! I think I ate half of the dish by the time dinner was over, and I’ve never turned down a new vegetable dish since.” ~Keisha

“I am horrified to admit mine involved the salad at Olive Garden. UGH!   Wow that was a long time ago (I think its been over 10 years since I have even BEEN one of those), but prior to that salad dressing my veggies of choice were corn and carrots.
Then after making the move to ovo-lacto vegetarian, a number of years later, I love trying new fruits and veggies.  Just this last weekend I had a Lychee for the first time.” ~IPBrian
“Growing up, my only experience with leafy greens was the frozen brick of spinach my mother would defrost in the sink, causing the paper packaging to warp and weaken. Thank goodness for my brother Francis who taught me about fresh spinach. I can recall my first taste of freshly sauteed spinach; the richness of the olive oil, the familiarity of the chopped garlic, the epiphany of shallot, the salt and pepper marrying everything together in a savory balance. This basic preparation has become a staple in my diet while inspiring me to approach any and all vegetables with an open mind. Simplicity and quality can take you far.” ~Maggie via Facebook
“Hibachi onions assembled to be a smoking volcano- as if the grilled butter wasn’t enough, I learned to have fun with my food!” ~@CarlyChamber via Twitter
“I still remember the dish: a roasted asparagus and red pepper salad at a fancy Italian restaurant 11 years ago. I was a poor college student, treated to an incredible meal while on spring break with my aunt and uncle. I never knew veggies could be so delicious. My college roommates teased me about how much I talked about that asparagus.” ~Christina

“Mine was Butternut Squash! It was at the start of the period when I became obsessed with being healthy (but also determined to still have fun ie. continue bar hopping at the weekend, but eat broccoli during the week). Anyways I got this health magazine and it said squash and sweet potatoes were rich in beta carotenes, which protect against skin cancer. So I was like ‘awesome – if eat this weird thing lots, I can sunbathe without guilt – get skinny and have a tan’. Oh to be 24 again! Obviously I dont think like that anymore (most of the time…) but I did fall in love with roasted butternut squash, baked in the oven and topped tomatoes, red onion and toasted almonds or raw cream cheese. SO GOOD. I even busted my husband having some the other week for dinner, when he thought I was staying out.

I also love roasted brussels sprouts so much that once I snuck them into the cinema in tupperware and nearly got divorced as a result…” ~Emmy

“Although I did not, therefore, have a “gateway” vegetable, I was obsessed with spinach as a child. I once had to go home sick from school when I ate 9 or 10 servings of it at lunch — spinach was the only food that other kids would give away without asking for anything in return, and I loved it…..” ~Ranier Wolfcastle

Tags: , , , ,
You deserve to feel great, look great and LOVE your body
Let me show you how with my FREE starter kit for getting healthy
and losing weight without dieting.

Where should I send your free information?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

20 Responses to “Gateway Vegetables: What’s your story?”

  1. Mine was avocado – I spent a summer in LA and ate so much I practically began turning green!

  2. Iris says:

    Frozen pack of ready-to-stir-fry veggies -> Back when I didn’t know how to cook I didn’t buy veggies cos I didn’t know what to do with them, aside from sticking some bokchoy in my pot of plain ramen. After I saw my roommate stir-frying this pre-made (probably processed) bag of veggies, I started to do so as well. I would never buy those frozen, premade veggie packs these days and much prefer locally grown fresh veggies, but I’m grateful it was my gateway vegetable!

  3. Kaylan says:

    My gateway veggie was most definitely broccoli. Not because I never liked broccoli before (because I did, sort of), but because the first day I tried roasting it to a slight char with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper my eyes widened and my tastebuds exploded and my life has never been the same. That day, I ate two entire heads of roasted broccoli in one sitting, shoveling it into my mouth like I would french fries. Now I want to grill or roast any and every type of vegetable and they turn out delicious every time.

  4. IPBrian says:

    I am horrified to admit mine involved the salad at Olive Garden. UGH! Wow that was a long time ago (I think its been over 10 years since I have even BEEN one of those), but prior to that salad dressing my veggies of choice were corn and carrots.

    Then after making the move to ovo-lacto vegetarian, a number of years later, I love trying new fruits and veggies. Just this last weekend I had a Lychee for the first time.

  5. Keisha says:

    I grew up with parents who HATE any veggie other than corn and green beans, so I always thought I hated them too. My last year of college I spent Thanksgiving with my favorite professor’s family (it was too expensive to fly home for the weekend) and to be polite, I took some of the asparagus dish he spent all morning making–and it was amazing! I think I ate half of the dish by the time dinner was over, and I’ve never turned down a new vegetable dish since.

  6. Leah says:

    Hi! I was one of those kids who was convinced that “I didn’t like [that]”- whatever “that” happened to be. This included items as diverse as onions and tomatoes to the “smorgasbord” offering at a picnic. (“I don’t believe I like smogasbord, can I just have some chicken, please?”). Recently, at a farmer’s market, I walked past a bin of tomatoes, and the smell alone encouraged me to revisit my dislike of all things tomato (except, of course, ketchup). I’ve been eating tomatos ever since, and have vowed to stop assuming that I don’t like something. Onions are next.

  7. Sustainivore says:

    Designing and implementing a garden my freshman year in college was my gateway to a bunch of vegetables! Never before had I heard of “Kale,” but now I’m harvesting and eating it weekly! Bok Choy and Swiss Chard were the same way. While I had known about Collards, being from the South, I had never tried them. Now I’m a regular greens-eatin’ gal showing my friends the way!

  8. Christina says:

    I still remember the dish: a roasted asparagus and red pepper salad at a fancy Italian restaurant 11 years ago. I was a poor college student, treated to an incredible meal while on spring break with my aunt and uncle. I never knew veggies could be so delicious. My college roommates teased me about how much I talked about that asparagus.

  9. Kimberly Winnington says:

    My gateway vegetable was asparagus. Shortly after my pledge to eat healthier, I tasted some amazing asparagus. The truth is that it was just some simple asparagus brushed with a little olive oil and sea salt, but it changed my life forever. It was sooo good. My whole life I’d avoided asparagus. In fact, as a young child I even told my grandfather that I wouldn’t eat my asparagus because it “tastes like crayons.” After this experience I learned that maybe it wasn’t the vegetables I didn’t like, but the way they were prepared (no offense Mom). I started trying new vegetable recipes and it opened up a whole new world to me. I was not only enjoying, but craving vegetables I had once written off like Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and eggplant (which are all some of my favorites now).

  10. Natalie says:

    Growing up, I don’t remember ever hating veggies. In fact, I was the weird kid who really loved lima beans and broccoli. There were some things my mom never served though – one of them being beets. My best friend at the time had me over for dinner, and she had placed pickled, canned beets on my plate. Initially, I squished my nose at them, but gave them a try, and they weren’t horrible! Since then, I buy fresh beets from the farmer’s market, roast them (or not), and put them in slaws, salads of their own with a vinaigrette and feta, or, lately I have been making pancakes with them! They are so earthy and delicious! Here’s that pancake recipe if anyone is interested!

    CuisinEats Beet Pancakes

  11. I grew up poor. Mom used canned or frozen veggies. To say that I detested veggies would be an understatement. I stuck with the basic veggies for almost two decades with no deviation. It was while I was picking up my standby veggies that I was hit with a magnetic pull toward the artichokes. I had recently purchased a cookbook by Julia Child. There was a recipe for hollandaise that I wanted to try. Usually I would make eggs benedict but I was pushed in another direction. Anyroo, I purchased the artichoke. First time cooking it, water logged. The sauce was good though. I tried my hand at it again and did great. It’s been a terrific journey from that point on. I’ve been adventurous in trying new veggies and different ways to cook them. I know my mom is in heaven laughing. It’s a good thing this happened. It helped me transition into a vegetarian lifestyle which too has eased the progression of my kidney disease. Thanks artrchoke!

  12. Marty says:

    Lettuce!

    Growing up, we had iceberg lettuce with some ranch and if we were lucky maybe a tomato and would call that a salad. And then I met Spring Mix and my whole salad life changed. Salads are delicious and varied! And you can do so much with them. There’s arugula and red leaf lettuce and romaine. Add some walnuts, toss in some blue cheese, sweet bell peppers, red onions, balsamic vinegar, anything!

    And then when I would find those vegetables on my salad, tasting more delicious than I knew possible, I’d find other ways to cook them or toss them in some different dish.

  13. Rhonda says:

    My gateway vegetable was mushrooms. My mother said I didn’t like them (probably because SHE didn’t like them). When I was around 20 I had a slice of pizza with mushrooms on it and was stunned to find out that I LOVE LOVE LOVE mushrooms! :))

  14. Natalie says:

    Darya, I’d love to read your best eggplant recipe. I find it one of the most difficult veggie to cook. I usually stir fry it, medium heat, with olive oil but it really takes a lot of oil since most of it is absorbed instantly. It tastes really good that way but it is too fatty/rich for my son who has a very sensitive stomach. I tried another way once, baking it whole in the oven and then slicing it and topping it with salt and olive oil but it is not as good.
    Thanks for any tips on how to cook it. 🙂

  15. Mine was Butternut Squash! It was at the start of the period when I became obsessed with being healthy (but also determined to still have fun ie. continue bar hopping at the weekend, but eat broccoli during the week). Anyways I got this health magazine and it said squash and sweet potatoes were rich in beta carotenes, which protect against skin cancer. So I was like ‘awesome – if eat this weird thing lots, I can sunbathe without guilt – get skinny and have a tan’. Oh to be 24 again! Obviously I dont think like that anymore (most of the time…) but I did fall in love with roasted butternut squash, baked in the oven and topped tomatoes, red onion and toasted almonds or raw cream cheese. SO GOOD. I even busted my husband having some the other week for dinner, when he thought I was staying out.
    I also love roasted brussels sprouts so much that once I snuck them into the cinema in tupperware and nearly got divorced as a result…

  16. Rainier Wolfcastle says:

    We lived on farms when I was a child, so I ate any vegetable that would grow in our soil from day 1. Traditionally Tuesday night at our house was a no-meat night (except for a tiny bit of fatback at the insistence of my father).

    Although I did not, therefore, have a “gateway” vegetable, I was obsessed with spinach as a child. I once had to go home sick from school when I ate 9 or 10 servings of it at lunch — spinach was the only food that other kids would give away without asking for anything in return, and I loved it.

    As an adult, I discovered vegetables and legumes that weren’t traditionally grown in my part of the Deep South: parsnips, winter squashes, artichokes, etc. I discovered how to roast or pan-sear vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and green beans instead of boiling them to death as was traditional where I grew up. And I also became acquainted with the use of lots of fresh herbs to jazz up veggies.

    My favorite thing to do at the store or farmer’s market is to buy something I’ve never had or (often) have never even heard of, then hit the Internet to figure out how to cook it. From Romanesco to cardoni to exotic Chinese greens to opo squash, this has provided many mini-adventures in cooking.

  17. HangryHippo says:

    As a child, I literally had to get a note from my pediatrician to be able to visit the salad bar at school. That was reserved for teachers and upperclassmen, and the lunch line was the only option for the rest of us. But as I steadily began to put on weight and feel sick from the terrible processed foods they were providing us, my doctor took action and I feel so lucky he did. I was able to create my own salads and enjoy fresh vegetables while the others had to suffer through instant mashed potatoes and fried chicken.
    That’s changing though in our society, and it makes me really happy. I recently did a post on this at my blog http://www.hangryhippo.com ….check it out!
    Thanks for all your great work and advice.

  18. Epicurea says:

    Great stories everyone, makes me want to run to the kitchen and grab a veggie!
    As a child, I was a picky eater but interestingly more when it came to meat and I really liked most vegetables. My absolute favorite that I would beg my mom to make at least every other week was baked cauliflower: rubbed with sea salt and black freshly ground pepper, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and just a little bit of swiss cheese and baked to golden perfection…

Leave a Reply to Keisha

Want a picture next to your comment? Click here to register your email address for a Gravatar you can use on most websites.


Please be respectful. Thoughtful critiques are welcome, but rudeness is not. Please help keep this community awesome.