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15 Fruits & Veggies That I Loathed As A Kid But Love Now

  • Dec 4, 2011
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All this time, I thought that I didn't like these foods, but it turns out... They were just misunderstood.  Now with an open mind, an adventurous palette, and some great recipes, though -- we've gotten a second chance at love and are having a wild love affair.

What are some foods that you've once loathed, but now love?
Why I loathed them: The skin is tough and needs to be peeled, and even once it was peeled, I didn't like the taste.  Whether it was a harder persimmon, or a ripen one, I was not a fan, and I was especially not a fan of the heart-shaped Hachiya ones because of the sticky feeling it left in my mouth.

Why we're having a love affair now: I've grown to really appreciate the taste, as well as the texture of various species of persimmons.  There are the Fuyu ones that are peeled and taste good whether they're hard or more ripe, and then there are the Hachiya ones, where once ripened, I can very easily pop off the stem and peel off the skin.  Here's a little trick that I learned from my mother about making the Hachiya ones ripen faster and not leave a sticky feeling in your mouth: seal them up in a paper bag with red apples for a few days.

Favorite way to nosh on them: Fresh, they're fantastic on their own, and also great atop a spinach or mixed green salad.  My grandmother also makes cookies, pies, jam, candy and cakes with them.
Why I loathed them: Growing up, my next door neighbor had a fig tree in his yard and ripened figs would often fall into our yard.  The ripened figs looked really disgusting when they would burst on the pavement in our yard.  My aunt told me that figs were actually edible, so one day, I picked one and tasted it...  I thought that the texture was disgusting, and I was not a fan of the taste.  I also didn't like Fig Newtons.

Why we're having a love affair now: I discovered dried figs and now I can't get enough of them.  I love that they're sweet, but not too sweet, and the seeds inside gives a nice crunch.

Favorite way to nosh on them: Dried figs are great snacks as is.  They're also great on spinach or mixed green salads with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Just quarter them and toss them in.  Another one of my favorite ways to have dried figs is to stuff them with an almond, wrap it in bacon, and either bake or saute them, then right before serving, drizzle them with a balsamic reduction and some chevre cheese.
Why I loathed them: Um, their husk is covered in spikes and resembles Bowzer's shell, so is it any wonder?  It also didn't help that my mother told me that when her childhood classmates misbehaved in class, their teachers would make them kneel on durian shells.  Appearance aside, it emitted an odor that I found to be putrid and the mushy texture to be gross.

Why we're having a love affair now: I've grown to really appreciate everything that I once hated about it -- the taste, texture, and smell.  Now I want to have it all the time, particularly the "golden pillow" variety, named so because it has a much smaller seed than other varieties of durian.  It's also very sweet.

Favorite way to nosh on them: Great on their own, and really, really good in a smoothie.  I've also enjoyed durian ice cream and popsicles, durian cakes, and durian filling in cream puffs.

See the full review, "Durian: It's not *that* stinky.".
Why I loathed them: They're hard and don't really have much of distinctive, delicious taste.  Even when adults tried to entice me into those cute baby carrots, I just wasn't having it.  Something else that didn't help was that I heard that people who ate too many carrots would turn orange.  Not wanting to turn orange was a darn good excuse not to eat carrots.

Why we're having a love affair now: I've really grown to appreciate carrot juice and now I often buy Costco-sized bags of carrots for juicing.  It's one of my favorite vegetables to juice now as it has subtle hints of sweetness that goes really well with fruit.  It's also a great, low-calorie, healthy food to dip in hummus, baba ganoush, and many other dips.

Favorite way to nosh on them: As I mentioned, they're tasty juiced or to use as a dipping device.  I also love carrot cake, carrot and raisin salad, carrot puree, and carrots in soups.

sweet potato
Why I loathed them: I always saw potatoes as a savory food, so to have it sweet really threw me off.  It was strange to have a powdery root plant that was slightly sweet.  And then I found out that sweet potatoes and potatoes aren't even in the same botanical family!

Why we're having a love affair now: They're so tasty!  They're also a great source of energy since they're full of healthy calories and carbs.  I love having a chunk or two before I go running or to the gym.

Favorite way to nosh on them: My favorite variety of sweet potato is the Japanese Satsuma ones.  I steam them and eat them as is.  They're very easy to peel once steamed.  I tend to steam them in batches, so I'll eat one fresh and hot out of the steamer, and the rest, I put into the fridge.  When I'm craving them, I can just pull them out of the fridge and eat it cold.  It's seriously like having ice cream.  Seasoned with spices and vanilla or not, they're great mashed up like potatoes.  They're also fantastic as a pie filling -- just use a pumpkin pie recipe.  They can also be used in savory dishes, like curry.

Why I loathed them: This is another root plant that I didn't learn to appreciate as a child.  Taro has an even chalkier texture than potatoes, no real taste when it's chewed on, yet oddly, leaves a strange aftertaste.

Why we're having a love affair now: Two words: boba drinks.  Granted it's an artificial flavor, it got me used to the idea of consuming taro.  Now I much prefer the real thing over artificially flavor taro foods.  Great in savory dishes, and I also love it in dessert, like steamed taro pudding.

Favorite way to nosh on them: Taro is very versatile and is great in both sweet and savory dishes.  In savory dishes, they're a great complement to meat dishes when cubed and sauteed in savory sauces, or mashed up, rolled into balls, breaded, and deep fried as a dim sum dish.  They can also be deep fried for chips and fries.  In sweet dishes, it's so delicious in ice cream and frozen yogurt, and in other Asian desserts.  They also make for great smoothies.

Why I loathed them: The mushy green flesh just looked really unappealing.  Plus, it had an aftertaste that I found odd.  It's tragic that I didn't like this as a child because I grew up with a huge avocado tree in my backyard that bear plenty of fruit.  Random fact, but did you know that the avocado is actually considered a berry?

Why we're having a love affair now: My mother turned me onto avocados by mashing them up with ice cubes and condensed milk for a tasty dessert.  In terms of liking avocado in savory dishes, I started liking avocado after having guacamole.  Plus, they're chalked full of healthy fats that when eaten in moderation, are great for your skin, heart, and overall health.

Favorite way to nosh on them: It's a bit much to eat on its own, but with the right complementary ingredients, it can be delicious.  Avocado+Tomato=Always a winning combination.  I use them in place of wet ingredients like butter and mayonnaise in sandwiches.  It's also great in guacamole, salsa, ceviche, and seafood tartares.  For dessert, they make for fantastic ice cream, smoothies, and as I mentioned earlier, tasty with condensed milk, or even sugar if that's all you have.

Why I loathed them: I thought they had a very strange taste and was put off by the wet, liquid-y inside, which is the total opposite now, as what I love about biting into cherry tomatoes is how they explode in my mouth.

Why we're having a love affair now: I've always love tart tasting foods, be they fruit or gelato flavors, so a tart vegetable eventually grew on me.  I love that it's such a wet vegetable and adds moisture to whatever you add it to, be it salsa, soup, sandwiches, or sauces.

Favorite way to nosh on them: Cherry tomatoes, I can nosh on all day long on its own, but larger tomatoes like beefsteak or roma ones, need to be part of a dish.  I love them in salads, sandwiches, salsa, guacamole, soups, sauces, and juices.

Why I loathed them: Like most kids, I just didn't like leafy greens.

Why we're having a love affair now: Nowadays, I swear I eat more spinach than Popeye.  I was going broke buying spinach by the bag at Trader Joe's, so I started buying huge boxes of them at Costco, and I go through them really fast.  Not only do I think it has a great taste, but bonus points that spinach is one of the healthiest dark leafy greens out there.  It's full of antioxidants, iron, calcium, and many other vitamins.

Favorite way to nosh on them: I love spinach raw or cooked.  When raw, I love spinach in juices, and I also like tossing it in balsamic vinaigrette with nuts, dried fruit, and cheeses.  For cooked dishes, I love simply sauteing a few cups in a couple teaspoons of water (that's all it takes!).  Even though I barely add any liquid, it seems to emit liquid of itself that I love lapping up, especially since it's so full of nutrients.  Spinach is also great in soups, pastas, lasagna, and eggs florentine, the latter of which is eggs benedict, but the ham or bacon is replaced with sauteed spinach.

Why I loathed them: Another dark, leafy green that I didn't like, even moreso than spinach because it has a harder, crunchier texture.

Why we're having a love affair now: I've really learned to appreciate its taste and texture.  Plus, like spinach, this is one of the healthiest leafy greens there is.

Favorite way to nosh on them: This is another leafy green that's great for juicing, as well as salads.  For the salads, I tear the leaves off the stalk and toss them in a simple dressing of Bragg's Amino Acids, olive oil, and dried red pepper.  For cooking, kale is great for sauteing and for soups.  It's actually one of my favorite leafy vegetables to use in soup because since it's thicker, it holds up really well whereas other greens might disintegrate.

Why I loathed them: With the white'ish-brown meat and a hard skin, it just looked unappealing, and frankly, the mushy texture just seemed gross.

Why we're having a love affair now: Now I love the texture and its unique taste.  In terms of veggies and fruits, it's suggested that you have the colors of the rainbow in your diet, and there aren't too many other purple ones out there!

Favorite way to nosh on them: Eggplants are great for sauteing, baking, or barbequing.  For sauteing, I really enjoy it in oyster sauce with garlic and basil.  For baking and barbequing, I simply slice it up and give it a light rub of salt and pepper before tossing it into the oven or onto the grill.  Eggplant dips, such as baba ganoush, are always delicious as well.

Brussel Sprouts
Why I loathed them: Let's be real -- they look like miniature green brains!  Also, the first few times that I tried them, they weren't prepared too well and tasted bitter.

Why we're having a love affair now: Once I had them prepared well, I thought that they were the most delicious.  It just has to be cooked evenly all the way through to reduce its bitter taste.  It also has cancer-fighting properties.  Who can complain about that?

Favorite way to nosh on them: I always cut them in half to make sure that they're fulling cooked.  They're great sauteed or baked.  I love putting a butter and brown sugar sauce, or a balsamic vinegar reduction sauce on them.  Sometimes I combine both and do a balsamic and brown vinegar sauce.

Why I loathed them: I know, ginger is technically a spice, but it's one of the plants that I really loathed as a child.  I didn't understand its properties for culinary use, and I loathed accidentally biting into a big chunk when eating because I didn't like it's spiciness.

Why we're having a love affair now: It's so flavorful, versatile, and has to ability to add such a great kick to literally any dish.  It's also great for colds, digestion, and aiding in belly aches.

Favorite way to nosh on them: Is there anything that you can't put ginger in?!  It's such a great addition to so many dishes.  It's great in meat and vegetable stir-fries.  When cooking with seafood, it really helps reduce the super fishy taste and smell.  In desserts like candy, cookies, and cakes, it adds a nice aroma and a bit of spice.  Ginger is also fantastic when steeped with tea, like for instance, chai, and it's even great steeped on its own.  I also juice them with other fruits and veggies when I have a cold.

Why I loathed them: The deep red color was off putting, and the deep red liquid that came out of it and would pool in whatever it was contained in, even moreso because it was reminiscent of blood.

Why we're having a love affair now: I finally got the guts to try them one day and really liked the texture and taste.  I always eat them fresh and never from the can.

Favorite way to nosh on them: Beets are such a great addition in salads.  It's also fantastic in smoothies, or juiced, whether cooked or raw.  Besides drinking the juice, I also use it to color homemade lip balm, and red velvet cupcakes as I try to stay away from artificial food coloring.  If I cook them, I prefer to steam them and then rub off the skin after they've cooled off.

Why I loathed them: Squashes have just always looked odd to me, no matter what variety.  Plus, their texture was funky to me, ranging from powdery to stringy.

Why we're having a love affair now: I was shopping at Trader Joe's one day when I saw bags of cubed butternut squash and randomly decided to have a food adventure with them.  I took them home and baked them with parmesan cheese on top and loved it.  Since then, I've branched out to other squashes, like kabocha, acorn, and spaghetti.

Favorite way to nosh on them: You can mash up or puree any squash and I will eat it.  When it comes to butternut squash, it's great with parmesan melted on top, and I also love butternut squash salsa, which is just regular tomato salsa with cooked cubes of squash in it.  The spaghetti squash is also great with parmesan melted into it.  For the kabocha, I love steaming egg custard in it, which is a traditional Laotian and Cambodian dessert.

What did you think of this list?

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December 09, 2011
What a sad childhood you must've had! I love sprouts now, especially roasted. The jury is still out on durian since I haven't had it in awhile.
December 10, 2011
I loved junk food :P And we'll have to fix this durian issue.
December 07, 2011
Great list idea and loved the breakdowns for each veggie. I hated the frozen spinach like Popeye used to eat for fuel, I LOVE the leafy variety, though. I also agree with Squash- wasn't the biggest fan until I discovered Butternut. Beets- hated them until someone told me to slice them up and use them as food coloring...um...ew! But, it turned out so good! I've always loved avos, tomatoes, and most of the other ones on here. I have yet to try Durian, Persimmons, and Taro. Another great use of figs: get a fresh fig, halve it, and place it in the middle of a boneless flattened chicken breast, then wrap the chicken around the fig and wrap in prosciutto- SOOOOOO good!
December 07, 2011
I pretty much always use fresh spinach. The only time I might use frozen spinach is if I'm pressed for time and trying to make a quick spinach dip. You have t try the ones that you haven't tried yet! And that chicken breast recipe sounds amazing. I'll have to try making it someday!
December 06, 2011
+1 for me on this list. I love the avocado dessert idea - I'll have to try that. I was recently at a restaurant in Austin that prepared brussel sprouts in bacon fat. I had one of those Homer Simpson drooling moments. As for Kale, it scores 1000 on the ANDI scale - out of 1000!
December 07, 2011
Just Googled what an ANDI score is -- impressive!  And god, is there anything that bacon fat doesn't make better?!  For avocado, I just remembered another one -- Jason Mraz has a chocomole recipe that I've been meaning to try!
December 07, 2011
Ooo.... the chocomole looks good. :-)
December 06, 2011
I love all these foods too! My wife and I eat avocados and tomatoes daily in our salad and I eat just about all the others at least once or twice a week.
December 06, 2011
Atta healthy diet! :)
December 06, 2011
I hated spinach, kale, brussel sprouts and beets when I was a kid too; mom made me eat them anyway -- not I love all but the beets; I just can't get to like them but I probably could manage them in a smoothie as you mentioned. What do you add with beets when making a smoothie or juice?? I should try this as they're so healthy. Great list Devora!!
December 06, 2011
Thanks, Brenda! In a 12 ounce smoothie or juice, I use about half of a small beet. I make whatever drink I want, and the beet is just an afterthought since I use such a small amount of it. I typically juice carrots with celery, tomato, bell pepper, one fruit component (like an apple, orange, or kiwi), and one leafy green (like kale, spinach, or Swiss chards). Tastes a lot better than it sounds! :)
December 05, 2011
The list is a model for nutritional health and wellness. The Vitamix 5000 will blend all of these fruits and veggies into an edible paste. There is no waste and the unit is easy to clean. The price is $350. or so and is a best buy at COSTCO.
December 06, 2011
Ooooh, I'll look into that for smoothies! Lately, I've been juicing, and I feel bad about the leftover pulp, but I have a small stomach and want to pack in as many nutrients as I can without getting too full. I do dig smoothies once in a while though :)
December 06, 2011
Sometimes COSTCO has a special sale on the Vitamix 5000. The sale usually comes with a public demonstration- that's how I found out and bought the Vitamix 5000. The edible pulp is what pushes out the toxins from the body system during the digestive process itself.
December 06, 2011
Ahhhh, then I think I may have seen them before. I know that the pulp is fibrous and still has a lot of nutrients, so I'm trying to think of ways to incorporate it into other recipes... I'll get my creative juices flowing in the kitchen!
December 06, 2011
Remember that fiber pushes out toxins from the gastrointestinal tract. Medications do not accomplish this feat on a preventive basis.
December 07, 2011
Thanks for the education in health, J! Always enjoy reading your reviews on health and nutrition :)
December 07, 2011
Thank you, Devora. Health and nutrition is the key to longevity. In addition, our health care delivery system must recognize this truism or else we will spend ourselves into oblivion and die earlier.
December 07, 2011
Agreed. It baffles me that so many doctors who I've encountered tend to give bandaid fixes to health problems instead of preventing and healing from within. I may be biased because I'm part of a large public health network and every time I make a doctor's appointment, I'm in and out in about 5 minutes!
December 07, 2011
The only way to prevent health problems is through good nutrition. If you belong to a network, ask to see a nutritionist and physical therapist. Very often, they can be very helpful with support systems to keep you healthy. There is a lot of bad food out there and a professional nutritionist can steer you away from it.
December 04, 2011
very nice educational list, Dev! Me I have one thing that had a negative effect on me. I used to really like "Mungo", now I cannot stand them. I've always liked everything in your list save for the Durian... :)
December 05, 2011
Your parents must have loved feeding you! My parents hated my picky palette :P And what's a mungo? Never heard of it!
December 05, 2011
Mungo is the name in our native language, here I think it is called Mung Bean.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mung_bean I used to like it when cooked with fish and garlic...not any more. Curiously I still eat it as a hopia pastry.
December 06, 2011
Oooooh, I don't particularly prefer mung bean, but I've eaten a lot of mung bean in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, especially desserts! I've also eaten a lot of mung bean sprouts.
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devora ()
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When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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