April 2003 Vol. 2     No. 4   

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Recipes for “The Vegetable Haters Cookbook” and Dairy Substitutes

My best friend and neighbor, Sharon, has changed her eating habits for the better over the 15 years we’ve known each other, but she’s still a picky eater and she hates to cook.  Last week, while she was eating  a plain bean and rice burrito at a local Mexican Taqueria, she suggested I do a cookbook just for her – called “The Vegetable Haters Cookbook.”  Not a bad idea, I thought, since she’s not the only person I know that feels this way.  Usually when people talk about distasteful vegetables, they are referring to broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, bell peppers, carrots and Brussels sprouts – foods with strong, distinct flavors.  Perhaps this is due to a bad experience, maybe it began with improper cooking or seasoning of these vegetables – or maybe they are just unfamiliar with them because they never tried them as a child.   Regardless, they have deep-rooted feelings about certain foods, so they need recipes designed with their preferences in mind.  There are many simple ways to help people like Sharon. First, there are plenty of healthy dishes that can be made without these displeasing vegetables.  Another approach would be to use them only in very small quantities in the dish.  Thorough cooking can also lessen the distinct flavors.  One slightly devious method is to grind up the vegetables in a blender so they don’t know they are in the recipe. The right sauce can also make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

Over the next several months I will show you that I can design recipes even the most finicky eaters will enjoy.   Before you see these “vegetable haters recipes,” I will have already taste-tested them on Sharon.   To get you started, I have looked over recipes from past newsletters and found many you can already put on your “vegetable haters” recipe list.  Try these:

Recipes from 2002 newsletters

Potato Boats

Roasted Garlic Bread

Tomato Basil Soup

Creamy Corn Soup

Avocado & Tomato Pasta Salad

Pumpkin Muffins

Tamale Pie

Creamy Bangkok Noodles

Recipes from 2003 newsletters 

Bean Soup

Baked Rice Pudding

Soldier Bean Soup

Dairy Substitute Recipes:

The following two recipes are typically made with dairy products.  These versions are just as tasty as their counterparts and a whole lot healthier. 


Heather made this a few days ago and we all loved it.  Vegetable haters and children will all like this.  This is similar to the famous Greek tzatziki dip, although the name may be enough to scare some people off. 

Preparation Time:  15 minutes (start early)
Chilling Time:  2 hours (preferably longer)
Servings:  variable (makes 1 ½ cups)

1 cup plain soy yogurt
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup tofu sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
3 garlic cloves, crushed
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over small bowl.  Add soy yogurt, cover and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight to remove some of the liquid.

Place the finely diced cucumber and the salt in a small bowl.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to assemble, place the drained yogurt in a medium bowl.  Add the tofu sour cream, lemon juice, dill and garlic.  Mix well.  Transfer the cucumber to a strainer and gently squeeze out any excess liquid.  Add to yogurt mixture and mix well.  Season with pepper, if desired.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Serve with pita wedges, crackers, bread or fresh, raw vegetables.

Hint:  This tastes even better the next day, so plan ahead when you want to serve this.  The recipe may easily be doubled to serve more people.


We serve a version of this soup at the McDougall residential program and it is always very popular.  If you know a “vegetable hater” who loves mushrooms, as Sharon does, they might also be tempted by this delicious soup.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1 onion, chopped
4 cups chopped, assorted fresh mushrooms (see hint)
½ cup white wine (or water)
5 cups vegetable broth
2 cups frozen, chopped hash brown potatoes
1-2 tablespoons parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 ½ cups soy milk

Place the onions, mushrooms, and wine (or water) in a large pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.  Add the broth, frozen potatoes, parsley and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly so soup just boils and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.  Process in the pot with a hand-held blender so mushrooms are finely chopped, but not pureed.  (Or remove and process slightly in batches in a food processor.)  Add soy milk and heat through.  Serve with thick slices of fresh bread.

Hint:  Use a variety of fresh mushrooms for the best flavor in this soup.  I usually use about ½ pound of button mushrooms, a few shiitake mushrooms, and then an assortment of exotic mushrooms, such as clamshell, oyster and trumpet royale.  Most of these will be available at various times of the year in natural food stores or specialty markets.  Frozen, chopped hash brown potatoes are sold in bags in the frozen food section of most supermarkets or in the natural food stores.  They are very convenient for adding thickness and flavor to soups, but an equal amount of peeled, chopped fresh potatoes may also be used.


Heather was traveling recently and enjoyed a delicious bread salad during one of her meals out.  She came home craving a good bread salad, but couldn’t find one anywhere, so she decided to create her own.  This is even better when you have fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes from your garden or the farmer’s market.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes
Resting Time:  15 minutes
Servings:  4

1 loaf fat-free French or Italian style bread
1 cucumber
1 bell pepper
3 tomatoes
½ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup quartered Kalamata olives
1 cup fat free Balsamic vinaigrette
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cut bread into 1 inch by 1 inch pieces.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool.  Cut cucumber, bell pepper and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a large bowl and mix with the basil and olives.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Set aside. 

15 minutes before serving, add bread to the vegetable mixture and toss to mix.  Add the dressing and toss again.  Let rest before serving to allow dressing to soak into the bread somewhat. 

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