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It’s All About Flavor!

On Saturday, we did a cooking demo at a local farmers’ market.

This is one of our favorite things to do because every time - not just once in a while - EVERY TIME someone says, “I didn’t think I liked __{fill in the blank}__.”  Inspiring people to overcome those perceptions is so much fun!

Like clockwork, Saturday didn’t disappoint.

We made Zucchini Pizza Boats and Tomato Cantaloupe Salad.  All the ingredients came from within 300 feet of where we did the demo.  For the Zucchini Pizza Boats, we loaded them with pizza sauce, onion, tomato, bell pepper, Cowboy Candy (a jalapeño relish from a local vendor that is slightly sweet with a little kick), micro greens and a little cheese.  After the demo, a gentleman was scarfing down his third (maybe fourth?!) sample, and said, “I don’t even like zucchini.”  Then, he added, “Well, at least I didn’t think I liked it.”

For the Tomato Cantaloupe Salad, we used fresh summer tomatoes that we salted to concentrate the flavors, and then combined them with cantaloupe, cucumber, red onion, fresh basil, microgreens and super-simple (and super-delicious) dressing.

When we were serving up samples, a woman asked, “Can I get one with no cantaloupe?  I just don’t like it.”  We couldn’t resist.  With all the ingredients mixed together, we asked if it was ok if her sample had just a few pieces of cantaloupe in it.  She said that was fine.  A few minutes later, she came back and excitedly said, “I am blown away.  I have never liked cantaloupe my whole life, but I absolutely love that salad…including the cantaloupe!”

This happens ALL THE TIME!

We have countless stories of people saying, “Oh, I don’t like…{fill in the blank}.”  Then, they try whatever we are sampling - or something they have been brave enough to try at home - and their perceptions have changed!

Why is this?

Have we ever stopped to think about what EXACTLY we don’t like?   Could this be a matter of we THINK we don’t like something, which leads us to not even try it?   Is it possible our brain has decided we don’t like it before we have even tasted it?  And, how long has it been since we have tried that particular food?   Hopefully, we are not still clinging onto childhood memories, such as soggy Brussels sprouts, from when we were 5 years old!

Probably the biggest factors are preparation and flavors.  

For us, once we transformed our eating habits to focus on REAL food, this caused us to also change the way we prepared these foods.   We had never experienced how great foods can taste when they are prepared different ways, such as roasting vegetables.   Or, how a food can taste as an ingredient in a flavor-loaded recipe (like pickles, which we thought we didn’t like, as part of a delicious Tropical Pork Cuban Sandwich).   We used to avoid mushrooms like the plague.  Now?  Let’s just say we have roasted mushrooms at least 3 times every single week!  If you would have told us years ago we would someday love these foods and actually CRAVE them, we would have said "No way, that's crazy!"

If you aren't already, be adventurous!

In addition to zucchini, there are many foods we frequently hear people say they don’t like.  If this sounds like you, or someone you know, hopefully this will help you overcome those perceptions!

Kale: people routinely say it is too tough and tastes bitter.  Let’s just say that massaging the kale is a game changer!  (Yes, you read right, we said "massaging"!)



After watching this video, we were told by an Eat REAL America member:

"I am shocked that I actually loved the massaged kale salad.  I have tried to eat kale many different times and and a variety of ways because I know it is super good for you.  I also have to confess that I had already decided NOT to make any of the kale recipes.  But when I saw this video, I knew I had to give it another try.  WOW!  You have converted me to having this salad as a regular item, especially since it keeps in the fridge well."

And, putting the right combination of ingredients together will transform kale into some truly amazing meals.  Try the Massaged Kale Salad, Salmon with White Beans, Kale & Honey Mustard Sauce, Kale Chopped Salad with Maple Almond Vinaigrette, Bombay Curry Kale Chips or the Kicked-Up Kale Salad.

Sweet potatoes: these are just for Thanksgiving, right?  No way!  Who would think to combine sweet potatoes with black beans, corn, avocado and salsa?  We have seen so many people overcome their perception they didn’t like sweet potatoes when they tried the Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and the Southwest Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps.

Mushrooms: we didn’t think we like mushrooms for over 30 years…man, were we wrong!  Now, we absolutely love them!  In addition to simple roasted mushrooms, try the Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms, Surprise Spaghetti Bolognese, Open-Faced Steak Reuben or the Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Pasta.

Cilantro: many people say they don’t like cilantro, often followed by, “it tastes like soap.”  My mom is one of these people.  That is until she had the Sweet Surprise Corn Salad we made for a family gathering.  The next day, she asked if it had cilantro in it. When I said it did, she replied, “well, maybe I do like cilantro after all because I loved that salad.”  Other ideas to try include the Simple Salsa Fresca, Mexican Breakfast Pizza, Moroccan Salad with Cilantro Orange Dressing or the Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges.

Beets: “They taste like dirt!”  Have you ever said this?  We hear this all the time.  But when we serve the Roasted Beet Hummus (with golden beets to disguise this secret ingredient!), most people's perception is blown!  If you think you don’t like beets, try the Roasted Beet & Mixed Berry Salad (here is a video how to prepare it), Slow Cooker Borscht Stew or the Roasted Beet Orzo Salad with Blue Cheese & Walnuts.

Eggplant: Prepared the right way, eggplant is absolutely delicious!  And, there is so much more than just Eggplant Parmesan!  Try the Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta, Cod & Pasta Ratatouille, Grilled Veggie Sandwich or the Eggplant & Mushroom Curry.


It is all about the flavor!

We often hear one of the things Eat REAL America members like most is the flavor combinations of the recipes.  Just a couple of days ago, one of our beloved members commented on the Steak, Tomato & Watermelon Salad:

"We enjoy grilled steak salads in the summer and this one was just delicious!  What makes it special is the unique combination of flavors and textures including watermelon, blue cheese, and avocado.  We loved the addition of finely chopped shallot in the dressing -- you get high marks for being so inventive!"

We are always humbled and inspired by these kind words.  From our own experience, we know the flavor combinations are key and we work hard to provide recipes and meal ideas that are full of flavor and you will want to make again.

We thank you for putting your trust in us and trying recipes you might not have otherwise tried.  After all, who would put corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, jalapeño and cilantro together in a salad?  For those of you who have made the Sweet Surprise Corn Salad with fresh, in-season ingredients, you know how amazing it is!

Like our new friend from the cooking demo, we want to get you chowing down on the super-nutritious foods you THINK you don’t like.  Be open-minded, get out of your comfort zone, and try something new!

What foods do you THINK you don’t like?

How can we help to get you past that perception?

Please let us know!


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8 Responses to It’s All About Flavor!

  1. This is a really great edition of your newsletter.
    Thanks for the continuing great ideas. BTW, my new blender and food processor are arriving tomorrow. I’m so excited. No more “limping along” on great recipes!

  2. Lima beans and tomato soup are two things I didn’t like as a kid and haven’t tried since. It wasn’t important because I really liked most all veggies even as a child.

    However, I do love Zonya’s 5 Bean Salad, which has butter beans in it and that might be the same as a lima bean! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  3. Wake up the taste buds! Can’t wait to try the Zucchini Pizza Boats and Tomato Cantaloupe Salad. Thank you for the link to get Cowboy Candy. Are there any other products from that company you would recommend?

    We call this ‘Adventures in Eating’ and are really enjoying your unique and creative flavor combinations! Last night’s dinner, Tropical Pork Cuban Sandwiches, were so different and tasty with pork, pineapple, dill pickle, melting provolone cheese and crispy grilled bread. Soooo good!

    • I can’t wait to hear what you think of the Tomato Cantaloupe Salad – most people tell us it is absolutely amazing! All of their products are really good, but we also love the Smoky Cowboy Mustard (cowboy theme going here…can you tell we live in Kansas?!) from Holmes Made Salsa. Hope that helps!

  4. Krista, I can see why your Tomato Cantaloupe Salad was such a hit at the farmers’ market. It is absolutely packed with flavor and bright colors. We really liked the contrast between the salty tomatoes and the sweet melon, the crunch of the cucumber, the sharp taste of basil. Delicious!! Another winner!!

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