20080521-broccoli.jpgFor vegetable fans and foes alike, there was a fun column in Tuesday’s New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope, the health reporter who ends up on the most-emailed list so often it makes me jealous, even though I don’t write for the New York Times.

In the column, Parker-Pope looked at which cooking methods cause vegetables to retain the most nutrients. First of all, she noted, “raw and plain vegetables are not always best.” This is unlikely to be news to Serious Eaters. Personally, I can’t resist crunching a few bites of raw carrot every time I’m using one to cook with, but I would not want to be sentenced to eating raw broccoli.

As the Cooking With Kids guy, my favorite part of the article was this:

Studies at Ohio State measured blood levels of subjects who ate servings of salsa and salads. When the salsa or salad was served with fat-rich avocados or full-fat salad dressing, the diners absorbed as much as 4 times more lycopene, 7 times more lutein and 18 times the beta-carotene than those who had their vegetables plain or with low-fat dressing.

Honestly, my daughter is four now and hardly likes any vegetables, but the key to getting her to eat vegetables when she was younger was using plenty of butter, olive oil, or peanut oil. Not just because this made the vegetables taste better (this was before she developed strong taste preferences) but because fat, well, lubricates. Babies are less likely to gag on well-oiled vegetables.

The same is true of 20-year-olds, apparently:

By the time the study subjects were 20, the sole factor that influenced fruit and vegetable consumption was taste. Young adults were not eating vegetables simply because they didn’t like the taste.

Those of you who, like me, eat vegetables because you like the taste: have you always liked them, or did you have a gradual (or sudden) conversion? More to the point, when is my daughter going to eat asparagus?

About the author: Matthew Amster-Burton lives in Seattle. His work appears frequently in the Seattle Times and Seattle magazine. He also maintains the blog Roots and Grubs. His favorite food is pad Thai.

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