How to Enjoy the 12 Foods People Love to Hate

By Marla Walters on 29 September 2014 4 comments

"Ewww, oysters!" "Gross, anchovies!" We all have foods we hate, don't we?

But what if those foods are really good for you, and what if it turned out you actually might like them, if fixed another way? Here are some foods you may hate, and suggestions about how to suck it up and give them another try.

1. Raisins

"I thought it was a chocolate chip in my cookie but it was a raisin. YEEEEECH!"

Well, we have all experienced that disappointment, haven't we? Poor, maligned raisins. I have seen people pick them out of cookies and trail mix and children ignore them in lunch boxes. Don't discount the little shriveled grapes, though. They are an excellent source of iron and fiber and are perfect for snacking, because they'll give you a burst of energy.

When giving raisins another go, consider that maybe you might like a different type of raisin. My father favors currants, which come from the Black Corinth or Zante grape. You might also find better grades of raisins than what you have previously tasted. Health-food stores tend to have better raisins than grocery stores, I think, in their bulk bins.

How to use them? I like this granola; this Curried Citrus Quinoa Salad is also healthy and satisfying.

2. Fish

"Fish smells… fishy."

If your fish smells strong, it isn't fresh. Fresh fish has hardly any smell. If anything, it should smell vaguely like the ocean (unless it's a freshwater fish). When shopping, go ahead and pick up the package. Give it a big sniff. Or, go to a fish counter, and chat up the folks who work there.

Don't be prejudiced against flash-frozen fish, because it hits the ice really quickly after being caught. Thinking about trying fish, or trying it again? Good idea, because fish contains unsaturated fatty acids — very beneficial to your heart. Fish is also a great source of protein.

What to try? I would advise salmon, halibut, or ahi. These are not your cheapest fish, by any means, but for someone who is "getting acquainted" with fish, or giving fish the ol' college try again, you will find these to be mild and meaty. The bones are also easier to see and pick out. I think that you will be surprised and pleased, and on the next attempt you will be brave enough to branch out and try something else.

3. Peas

"They are chalky and squishy."

Okay, that was me. Were you forced to eat peas as a child? I fed mine to the poodle, spit them into my napkin, or tried to hide them under a lettuce leaf. For years, I refused to have anything to do with them. Being a mature adult, I could still refuse to eat them. However, I do attempt to be reasonable, and when a food contains vitamins A, B1, B6, C, and K, plus fiber and protein, it's hard to argue and time to find a way to eat the little suckers.

My friend Debbie made a bowl of Crunchy Pea Salad for a party, and I was hooked. I have actually made this salad so many times, my husband has requested that I just make it for myself (he's sick of it). So I do. I also had to modify the recipe to make it healthier, if I kept eating massive quantities. I use non-fat, plain yogurt in place of mayonnaise, low-fat cheddar, and use soy or turkey bacon, uncured bacon, or just a whole lot less bacon. Even with the modifications, it's great.

My other pea trick is to eat petite peas. They are sweeter, crunchier, and brighter in color, which is more appealing. Another favorite pea dish of mine is this Summer Pea Soup, which is great hot or cold.

4. Anchovies

Never has a pizza topping been more roundly feared and despised.

But have you ever eaten them on Caesar salads?

I just pulled out my Joy of Cooking and The Fannie Farmer cookbooks; between them, I find 14 anchovy recipes.

What's the point of trying anchovies? Are they good for you? Yes. Remember, they are a fish, so hello Omega-3's, B12 and B6, iron, and calcium. Their nutritional downfall is their packaging — usually a salty brine — which can be diminished somewhat if you rinse them.

What in the heck would you do with an anchovy? Well, if you want to dip your toes, try a Caesar Salad. If that goes well, you might want to be a little more adventurous and try a throwback recipe — Deviled Eggs With Anchovies.

5. Tomatoes

"I don't like the taste or the texture."

That is my daughter's complaint — but here is great news for you tomato-haters: Hate away! Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Cooking the tomatoes increases the antioxidants! Sounds like you lose some vitamin C in that process, so that's something to keep in mind.

Most people I know who hate fresh tomatoes don't mind them at all if they are cooked, like in marinara sauce, or this roasted tomato soup.

6. Beets

"Why do they even put those out in the salad bar?"

Because they're really good for you, and very tasty. Besides fiber, they contain potassium and folate. They made "superfood" status, too, because they contain betacyanin, which may protect against development of cancer cells and also prevent heart disease.

The easiest way to make fresh beets? Wrap individual beets in a layer of heavy-duty foil. (I like to make four to six at a time, because they are also good cold.) Put a layer of foil on a cookie sheet, put the beets on top of that, and roast at 400F for an hour. Carefully unwrap, peel away the outside beet layer (it will come off very easily) and slice or chop. Sprinkle those with feta or goat cheese, a little balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. If you now say, "Hey, I guess I like beets!" then try making a classic Borscht.

7. Tofu

"The texture is weird."

Have to agree, but there are ways to prepare it to help you get past that. Why eat tofu? Tofu is made from soybeans, which is a complete plant protein. Besides the protein, it contains fiber, omega-3's, iron, magnesium, B1 and folic acid.

How to try it? Here is what I call the "State Fair" approach. Fry it. I like to cut firm tofu into small pieces. Dip it into an egg wash, then into a mixture of Panko crumbs and sesame seeds, and fry it. Serve with rice or noodles and some broccoli. Another delicious preparation? Put it in a cabbage salad with peanut sauce. I'll eat anything in a peanut sauce.

8. Brussels Sprouts

"They are bitter, and they smell weird."

Eating cruciferous vegetables (Sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower) may help you lower your risk of getting cancer. If that isn't enough reason, the little green mini-cabbages are packed with vitamins A, C, K, B6, plus folate, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, iron and magnesium. Whew! They certainly earned their "Superfood" status.

When buying, look for the smaller ones that are bright-green and have tight leaves. If you found them to be bitter previously, that might be because you ate too-large or old ones. What is my favorite way to eat brussels sprouts? Add bacon! And grapes, and walnuts… this recipe makes me swoon. Another "beginner" way to try brussels sprouts? Get some of the frozen ones in cheese sauce. Not kidding — they are really yummy, and easy.

9. Eggplant

"It's spongy. It doesn't really taste like anything."

That's actually sort of a plus, when you think about it. It makes eggplant a blank palette for whatever you want to put on it or with it. Eggplant provides a healthy background for many flavors, without competing. Eggplants contain iron, magnesium, vitamins B6 and C. Don't cut off the skin, which is the most nutritious part.

Probably the most famous use of eggplant is in Eggplant Parmigiana, which can be really great… or oily and heavy. I like this lighter recipe. If you have trepidation about eating eggplant, that will be eased by knowing there are layers of tomato sauce and cheese. Another great "intro to eggplant" recipe is Baba Ganoush, which is a dip. Even people who think they don't like eggplant will like baba ganoush.

10. Liver

"It's just gross. I would never eat liver."

There certainly is not the pressure to eat liver like there was when I was a kid. Although high in iron, it's also high in cholesterol, so you wouldn't want to make it a habit. Back in the 60s and 70s, if you showed signs of anemia, mothers (on advice of pediatricians) started cooking up liver and fed that to you, along with dried apricots and eggs. It was a strange little diet. I personally have never been a big fan of liver after that experience. So, why on earth would you try eating liver, again? It's packed with B12, vitamin A, and the aforementioned iron (for anemia).

My husband, who lived in Germany for a while, has a favorable view of liver. This is because his mother cooked it in fragrant onions and… lots of butter. German butter is also higher in milk fats, which makes it tastier. This liver and onions recipe has great step-by-step instructions. If you can find European-style butter, try using that, too. I have learned to love chicken livers, especially in Rumaki, and that's saying something because I hate water chestnuts. It's all about the bacon.

11. Turnips

"I have never eaten one and I don't think I want to."

Oh, you probably have, and just didn't know it. When cooked, they look a lot like a potato. The turnip is one of those vegetables that trip up grocery-store checkers every time, like parsnips and shallots. Why bother with turnips? They contain vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals, and dietary fiber. They are also inexpensive.

Best way to try turnips? How about turnip fries? Not many people will turn up their nose (pun intended) at those. My favorite turnip recipe, though, is a soup called Scotch Broth, which also contains barley, lamb, carrots, and other delicious ingredients.

12. Oysters

"That's so gross, seeing someone slurp up those slimy things!"

I guess oysters can go into that "acquired taste" category. I love them, but not in their raw state. Why are oysters good for you? They contain more zinc, per serving, than any other food. Zinc supports your immune system. It's also important for your skin, hair, and nails.

How to eat oysters? If you are squeamish, the "raw bar" is not for you. I would, again, go with my "State Fair" approach and fry them. Once you see how delicious their flavor is, try an oyster stew, which is easy and filling.

Did I cover it, haters? What foods do YOU hate? Bet I can come up with a way to make you love them!

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Guest's picture
Nick

Please write a follow up article with lima beans and/or butter beans.

Guest's picture
Jan

Succotash. Yum.

Marla Walters's picture

Oh, man, Nick, I definitely should have included (blech) lima beans and/or butter beans. I like how you threw down the gauntlet, here.

As promised in my post, here is a recipe using both of the aforementioned beans. My mother used to make this and it's pretty good. Naturally, it's all about the bacon.

1 lb. bacon, cut into pieces
1 lb. lean ground beef or turkeyburger
1 c. chopped onion, partially cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 c. ketchup
3/4 c. brown sugar
15 oz. can kidney beans, drained
15 oz. can butter beans, drained
15 oz. can lima beans, drained
Partially fry and drain bacon. Remove from pan. Brown ground beef and add onion. Drain excess moisture.
Add salt, mustard, vinegar, ketchup, and brown sugar to beef and onion mixture. Return bacon to pan. Mix well. Combine beans with other mixture.

Bake 1 hour at 350°F.

Guest's picture
Sue

I love each and every one of these foods! Even the lima/butter beans! I'm an adventurous eater, my mom loved to explore different foods, and we had to try something before we said we didn't like it. We didn't a have to eat it if we didn't like it, but we had to try.

A couple of things to think about is how our tastes can change over time, and how one variety or source of something can be different than another. And sometimes it is just how you prepare it, like your article says.

I went from loving mayo as a young child, hating it until my late teens, then loving it again.

When I grew up in NJ I loved our local raw oysters (and clams!). When I lived in VA the local oysters tasted chalky to me, great cooked but not good raw. Then I went to Tyndall AFB near Panama City, FL, and their oysters were fantastic.

My husband hated eggplant until I made roasted eggplant and tomato salad. Now we grow extra eggplant so we can have it more often! But my daughter still doesn't like it.

Sadly I am on a low sodium diet now and anchovies are out, as is most flash frozen fish due to the sodium tripolyphospate added. That and they contain so much extra water due to the tripolyphosphate that I hate to buy them, paying for water that I have to squeeze out them. :<

Guest's picture
Sue

I love each and every one of these foods! Even the lima/butter beans! I'm an adventurous eater, my mom loved to explore different foods, and we had to try something before we said we didn't like it. We didn't a have to eat it if we didn't like it, but we had to try.

A couple of things to think about is how our tastes can change over time, and how one variety or source of something can be different than another. And sometimes it is just how you prepare it, like your article says.

I went from loving mayo as a young child, hating it until my late teens, then loving it again.

When I grew up in NJ I loved our local raw oysters (and clams!). When I lived in VA the local oysters tasted chalky to me, great cooked but not good raw. Then I went to Tyndall AFB near Panama City, FL, and their oysters were fantastic.

My husband hated eggplant until I made roasted eggplant and tomato salad. Now we grow extra eggplant so we can have it more often! But my daughter still doesn't like it.

Sadly I am on a low sodium diet now and anchovies are out, as is most flash frozen fish due to the sodium tripolyphospate added. That and they contain so much extra water due to the tripolyphosphate that I hate to buy them, paying for water that I have to squeeze out them. :<