No Wellness Wankery

46: Stuck in a food rut? Say GOODBYE to boring vegetables with Alice Zaslavsky

January 31, 2023
46: Stuck in a food rut? Say GOODBYE to boring vegetables with Alice Zaslavsky
No Wellness Wankery
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No Wellness Wankery
46: Stuck in a food rut? Say GOODBYE to boring vegetables with Alice Zaslavsky
Jan 31, 2023

If you are a frequent listener of the No Wellness Wankery podcast, you would know that only 5% of Australians eat enough veggies. And that we are on a mission to change this.

We thought it was about time to bring a certified vegetable expert to the show to help us say GOODBYE to boring veg! Meet Alice.

In the space of a decade, Alice Zaslavsky has gone from high-school teacher to releasing an internationally award-winning and bestselling cookbook. And of course the cookbook in questions is the very epic, 450 page 'In Praise of Veg'. It is the definitive guide to making vegetables the centre of the plate. Something we believe is SO important to our health.

So what are her secrets? In this episode Alice speaks about why she thinks we aren't eating enough veg, what to do to make them taste amazing and how we can all be better in the kitchen.

Plus she tells us all about her new book 'The Joy of Better Cooking' and how we can all become better in the kitchen in our favourite way possible...done is better than perfect. So if you're already assembling ingredients in the kitchen, you're already a better cook than you think.

Ps. If you're not already following Alice on Instagram, jump on over to continue your new love of Brussels sprouts. 

Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide, currently on sale for 40% off.
You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Show Notes Transcript

If you are a frequent listener of the No Wellness Wankery podcast, you would know that only 5% of Australians eat enough veggies. And that we are on a mission to change this.

We thought it was about time to bring a certified vegetable expert to the show to help us say GOODBYE to boring veg! Meet Alice.

In the space of a decade, Alice Zaslavsky has gone from high-school teacher to releasing an internationally award-winning and bestselling cookbook. And of course the cookbook in questions is the very epic, 450 page 'In Praise of Veg'. It is the definitive guide to making vegetables the centre of the plate. Something we believe is SO important to our health.

So what are her secrets? In this episode Alice speaks about why she thinks we aren't eating enough veg, what to do to make them taste amazing and how we can all be better in the kitchen.

Plus she tells us all about her new book 'The Joy of Better Cooking' and how we can all become better in the kitchen in our favourite way possible...done is better than perfect. So if you're already assembling ingredients in the kitchen, you're already a better cook than you think.

Ps. If you're not already following Alice on Instagram, jump on over to continue your new love of Brussels sprouts. 

Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide, currently on sale for 40% off.
You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

00:00:00:05 - 00:00:24:09

Lyndi

Okay. I would like to tell you, your your weight is not the problem. It really isn't. I know you've been made to think your weight is a problem your entire life, but honestly, it's just been a red herring making you focus on diets that really suck and your weight is not. The problem is the title of my new book and I would really like you to read it if you've ever been made to feel like you need to worry about your weight that you're fixating on your weight is going to help you lose weight, which is nonsense.


00:00:24:16 - 00:00:46:11

Lyndi

This is the book you need to read. We tackle body image. We help you with practical strategies to feel normal, relaxed, and freedom around food, which are all fabulous things you also deserve. Please go to my website, Lyndi Cohen dot com and check out my new book. It's available from all great retailers. Please check it out. Hello everyone and welcome to the Know Wellness Wankery Podcast.


00:00:46:11 - 00:01:05:05

Lyndi

My name is Lyndi Cohen and it's so good to have you here today. I'm joined by a very, very special guest. So I think you're going to get really excited that I'm pretty excited about this today. I got in the studio with me, Alice Zaslavsky. So if you haven't heard about Alice, she's kind of like she's a champion of all things veg.


00:01:05:05 - 00:01:27:03

Lyndi

And that's something I love about her, especially because we've only got 5% of Aussies who are eating enough vegetables in the space of a decade. Alice has gone from high school teacher to really seeing an internationally award winning and bestselling book which you may have heard about. This is the blockbuster success and it's the very epic, I think it's 450 page cookbook called In Praise of Veg.


00:01:27:03 - 00:01:44:13

Lyndi

Now, this is kind of, if you haven't seen it, a definitive guide on how to make veggies at the center of your plate, which, you know, like, you know, I'm so on board with and now she's she's continuing her good work. She's a columnist, a radio presenter, and she's now releasing her second book, The Joy of Better Cooking.


00:01:44:13 - 00:02:07:19

Lyndi

Now, I spent my weekend obsessing over this book, tugging on my husband's shirt, trying to get him to to flick and look through all the books. I'm holding the book now. It has got lots of lots of little Post-it notes of all the recipes that I want to try. And this morning I started my day with the brush muesli that comes from this recipe books.


00:02:07:19 - 00:02:10:14

Lyndi

I wanted to check it out. And welcome to the show, Alice.


00:02:10:18 - 00:02:13:09

Alice

Yay! Thank you. Good to be here, Lyndi.


00:02:13:19 - 00:02:33:07

Lyndi

Thanks for coming. I love anyone who loves who loves vegetables, who loves food, is a friend of mine. And I think what I love about you is you got to give us this. The sense that anyone can be a cook in fact, you're probably better at cooking than you think you are, that it's okay to make mistakes. You don't have to be a perfectionist and a done is better than perfect.


00:02:33:07 - 00:02:44:01

Lyndi

So I feel like all these things, I have lots of love for them. But the question I have for you is, did you always start off being an incredible cook or did you start off being a bit of a dud?


00:02:44:01 - 00:03:13:02

Alice

Like everyone I started off, I wouldn't say I was a dud, but I started off dabbling and it was things like I was using the microwave, I was grabbing the bags of dim sims from the freezer aisle. I would have been probably 12, 13 years old. I thought that was like the utmost peak of my culinary skill was they used the same bit of water in the bottom of the bowl to make sure that they stayed in the microwave and sweet chilli sauce again from a jar.


00:03:13:10 - 00:03:36:01

Alice

And if someone had told me at that point, that's not cooking, you should be making everything from scratch. What are you thinking? I would have gone into my shell and I never would have tried. The next thing which was stirring, boiling water into pasta alfredo packets, you know, I guess from the, you know, those classic continental boxes from the nineties and then I moved to packet cakes again.


00:03:36:09 - 00:03:48:07

Alice

You know, if someone had said to me, That's not how you bake, I would have thought, okay, well then maybe I should stop. Maybe I'm not good enough. But at no point did anyone say you are cooking. And that's why I never stopped.


00:03:48:23 - 00:04:05:21

Lyndi

Hmm. Thank goodness for that, because I feel like when it comes to nutrition, when it comes to cooking, I've set the bar so high that it's almost unattainable for anyone to just even have a crack, get involved. And I guess what you're saying is, you know, sometimes even just combining ingredients, you might not think of that as cooking, but that's a beautiful place to start.


00:04:06:03 - 00:04:24:02

Alice

Assembly is cooking, putting together a bunch of stuff in a bowl, tossing it together with a dressing. It's not just a cook, it is a salad. So that's great if that's where you want to start. And if that's something that you can add to your day every day, then you're already winning.


00:04:24:09 - 00:04:30:09

Lyndi

Awesome. So what mistakes are people making when it comes to making vegetables? Why do you think we don't eat enough vegetables?


00:04:30:10 - 00:04:52:17

Alice

I think the main kind of issue is that people expect vegetables to taste a certain way, which they don't have to taste that way. And a lot of people kind of expect vegetables to be something that they should eat rather than something that they want to eat. But all of that expectation can be shaved away very quickly by actually making vegetables taste delicious and realizing that they can.


00:04:52:17 - 00:05:05:13

Alice

So it's kind of like resetting our expectations, too, for the bar to be higher rather than sort of having this low bar of, oh, yes, they're an afterthought. There's something that I have to eat because they're good for me, not because I feel like them today.


00:05:05:18 - 00:05:27:24

Lyndi

Spot on. And I think with nutrition ism, they have this habit of making vegetables taste really bland and boring. You know, for so many years, we were told not to include things like salad dressing on our salads because of sugar or the or the calories and how scary it is. But even just adding some salad dressing can help you absorb some of the nutrients like adding and k so I'm all with you there.


00:05:27:24 - 00:05:42:21

Lyndi

So one of the things I noticed in The Joy of Better Cooking is how obsessed you are with flavor and flavoring things beautifully and different cook methods that aren't actually scary. So what are some tips that you have for making veggies taste better?


00:05:42:21 - 00:06:06:06

Alice

You're right, I am obsessed with flavor because we only have a certain amount of meals in our lifetime YOLO, so why not make every opportunity for eating something as delicious as possible? And you don't have to overthink it. You mentioned salad dressing, you know, making sure that you taste as you go, knowing that before you add your oil to addressing you, add seasoning to the vinegar or to the acid.


00:06:06:06 - 00:06:21:15

Alice

So it might be lemon juice, it might be red wine vinegar, it might be balsamic, it might be apple cider vinegar. You add a salt and pepper to that dissolve. Then you add your oil. And that way you create this really great emotion and it's actually better safe. And you'll find a way to use less salt that way.


00:06:21:19 - 00:06:47:10

Alice

But you get a more robustly flavored salad. That's the raw vegetables and the raw vegetables, a really sharp knife. It's kind of like when you're watching somebody filleting a fish for a shaving, the sharpness of that blade will impact the experience of flavor of the fish. Same goes for veg. So whether you're cutting your tomatoes or your tuna, have one good sharp chef's knife.


00:06:48:05 - 00:07:17:04

Alice

Then in terms of your pan, it's the same as steak goes for veg. Hate the pan really, really well too smoking if you're making a stir fry or if your child grilling your asparagus or your brussel sprouts or your broccolini, all of that needs to have a really nice hot pan so that it doesn't sweat. It's almost like people need to give the same amount of attention to plant based ingredients or to vegetables as they do to the animal proteins that they're buying.


00:07:17:07 - 00:07:24:12

Alice

You know, treat your mate like your ribeye. They treat it like your ribs, I should say.


00:07:24:19 - 00:07:41:19

Lyndi

There is so much love, so much many marinades, and we really care. We put we put meat at the center of all our meals. And I guess what you're saying is let's flip this. Let's flip this. And all these items that you're recommending, these aren't crazily expensive, hard to find things. These are basic kitchen things that I can't believe.


00:07:41:19 - 00:07:54:23

Lyndi

How many people have really sad knives that make it really tricky to cook? No wonder you don't want to cook. Or the other thing I also see are these tiny chopping boards where you know you have to. It's really hard to chop.


00:07:54:24 - 00:07:59:17

Alice

Exactly. So it's it's like a salad spinner and a sharp knife and a good bowl.


00:08:00:03 - 00:08:06:24

Lyndi

Oh, I love this. Okay, cool. What would you say is one thing you want nervous or anxious cooks to know?


00:08:06:24 - 00:08:26:19

Alice

The most important thing that I'd really like all people to know, regardless of where they are on the cooking spectrum, is that you are already a better cook than you think you are. And even just thinking about food is enough for you to start to build up your skills. So wherever you are, you can always get better. It's just about flying hours.


00:08:26:19 - 00:08:48:24

Alice

It's just about stepping into the kitchen and cooking and those nerves, that anxiety comes from a place of feeling like you need to kind of perform or you need to take boxes or achieve or attain somebody else's level. So just let all of that go. You don't have to impress anyone. You don't have to take off any kind of level of success.


00:08:49:08 - 00:08:56:14

Alice

All it is is serving up something for your loved ones or just for yourself and feeling accomplished.


00:08:56:14 - 00:09:13:00

Lyndi

I think a lot of people do fear failing in the kitchen. They feel like they spend all this money and time on ingredients. But I guess even brilliant chefs that failed, they probably failed the most of anyone. So it's almost like limiting ideas that you're not allowed to fail in the kitchen 100%.


00:09:13:01 - 00:09:16:13

Alice

That's it. You know, you don't see chefs with hands, impeccable hands.


00:09:16:20 - 00:09:29:22

Lyndi

Exactly. I'm the cook. As we talk about this idea of an intuitive eating. And I think you talk about this idea of intuitive cooking, what is it and what how can intuitive cooking help us feel more confident in the kitchen?


00:09:30:04 - 00:09:48:18

Alice

Intuitive cooking is about listening to yourself and your taste. So instead of cooking for somebody else's standards or somebody else's taste, it's about tasting as you go and about tuning in with all of your senses. So whether that is using your eyes to watch a color change on a vegetable like a lot of people overcook their green stuff.


00:09:48:18 - 00:10:09:14

Alice

But if you just undercooked it and then let it come to you kind of as soon as it changes color in the pot, you take it out and you let the residual heat finish it off. That can be built out. That intuition can be built up over time. The same goes for the smells a bit better. For example, you know that once it starts to smell like cookies, you know the butter melted foams, it starts to change color.


00:10:09:14 - 00:10:30:19

Alice

It smells like cookies. It's good to go. And so over time, you start to build up those little intuition points and you start to play and you go, Hey, what happens if these cookies get a little bit darker? Does that add to flavor? Oh, no. Okay, well, that didn't work. Next time I won't have to. You know, and you mentioned that people are afraid of failing in the kitchen because it's expensive or it takes time.


00:10:31:01 - 00:10:48:03

Alice

That's another reason why I love vegetables, because they're a lower barrier to entry. And the worst that could happen, let's say, is that you overcook it. And then all you need to do is kind of mitigate it with a bit more acid in your sauce or seasoned a little bit more, taste it out a bit more olive oil and they won't even notice.


00:10:48:03 - 00:10:57:18

Lyndi

So what you're saying is being a lot more playful on occasion, rather than getting stuck in our head with all the rules about what we should or shouldn't be doing is just kind of always doing a little bit more experimentation.


00:10:58:05 - 00:11:32:13

Alice

That's exactly right. Have a play, be playful and go tap into your childlike self. Do some finger painting around the kitchen rather than feeling like you have to be a michelin star chef because even chefs can fail. And they often say sometimes the most amazing dishes come from that. You know, Massimo Bottura talks about the Oops, I dropped the lemon tab, and that's a dish that he's had on his menu, which is somebody in the kitchen dropped a tap and it looks so beautiful on the ground or, you know, on the plate that they decided they were going to make it better.


00:11:32:18 - 00:11:38:10

Alice

So sometimes the happiest of accidents mean a whole new design.


00:11:38:10 - 00:11:55:08

Lyndi

And I feel like in The Joy of Better Cooking your new book, you are giving these little tips about almost helping us be intuitive and think about all the things we could be looking for. I just want to just turn our attention to this idea of helping kids eat more veggies. Your parent, your you used to be a teacher.


00:11:55:08 - 00:12:07:00

Lyndi

I feel like you're a good person to be asking this about. Do you think the parents need to hide veg in their kids food? Or how can we help kids find the joy of cooking and eating vegetables?


00:12:07:14 - 00:12:29:07

Alice

I think the issue with hiding veg in food and you would know this from, you know, dietetics and nutrition. Is that so much of helping kids to eat widely is about exposure. So if you're hiding their vegetable inside something, they're not really being exposed to it. And indeed, you're actually kind of doing them a disservice. You're saying that you don't trust them to want to taste it for themselves.


00:12:29:13 - 00:12:48:08

Alice

So I'm a big fan of growing the veg for kids and not making a big deal out of it, but I just wouldn't sort of sneak it in. You know, I think all of that kind of language is implying that kids won't want to eat it themselves. The key is exposure. So multiple exposures from a really young age.


00:12:48:08 - 00:13:08:20

Alice

In fact, if you're pregnant now, that's the time to start. Just be eating widely as many different vegetables before vegetables particularly. And then when they're born and as they're learning to eat, putting that food in front of them in tiny little kind of no expectation tastes so that they can eventually start to learn to enjoy the flavors and say you ate it as well.


00:13:08:20 - 00:13:32:10

Alice

That's the number one thing. So if you're hiding the veg, not only are they not learning that, oh, I actually I actually like carrots. They're also not saying you eat carrots. So I'm all about hearing rather than sneaking or hiding. When it comes to helping kids learn to love veg and they're not making a big deal of it, not sort of sitting there and going, look at you, you're eating vegetables.


00:13:32:10 - 00:13:56:21

Alice

That's amazing. No, normalize that. Normalize the love of vegetables and just make it an everyday occurrence in your household. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes effort, but it's so worth it. I call it the hard, easy method because later on in life, you know, you're setting up a really great grounding for them to eat widely and nutritious without feeling any of that stuff, without any any of that wellness way.


00:13:57:13 - 00:14:15:19

Lyndi

That's it. And I feel like everything you're saying is so spot on and I don't endorse everything you're saying. Also, the research backs up all the things you're saying, talking about frequent exposure. And I think often parents, we give up after a few goes or maybe they go through phases where they eat something and then they don't want to eat it for a period of time.


00:14:15:24 - 00:14:49:13

Lyndi

And so we think, oh, they don't like that anymore in my, my, my, my kids like they, they always eat these foods and we just all go through seasons and preferences and flavor profiles that we enjoy more than others. And so it comes back into the menu really soon afterwards to give them another try. One of my theories, I think with nutrition and food and kids and veggies is that we have become a little bit obsessed with creating really clean meals for kids, which is a wild idea anyway, but so much so that we're stripping the flavor from the food that we give to our kids so that it's ticking all these nutrition boxes, but


00:14:49:13 - 00:15:08:19

Lyndi

it's actually devoid of flavor. And I wonder, are we doing our kids a disservice by by plating up vegetables that we ourselves would not be interested at all in eating? And wouldn't it be value in you know, what if we added a little. Yes, maybe we're adding a little more fat and, you know, popping some parmesan on top of our vegetables and baking it so that they're actually.


00:15:08:19 - 00:15:25:09

Lyndi

Yes. Are getting more sodium. They're getting a little more fat, but they're going to be more likely to eat that veggie and be a lot more interested in it. And I sometimes think that you have these kids who absolutely detest vegetables because they're just bland, and then all they want to eat is is chips and fish. And of course, it's all fried fish.


00:15:25:09 - 00:15:33:17

Lyndi

And I reckon that's going to be a lot of kids and that's cool as well. But I wonder if we can create a healthy relationship with food if it were played out. Food that's packed full of flavor.


00:15:34:13 - 00:16:00:21

Alice

And taste is nutrition. You know, the studies are also showing that if we tap into our own, as you say, intuitive, eating into our own natural cravings, we crave fat, we crave umami, we crave salty, sweet, sour. But that doesn't have to come in ultra processed foods. It can come in that, you know, whack tossed broccoli with parmesan and garlic and chili that's on our table and we love it.


00:16:00:21 - 00:16:18:00

Alice

That's and if our kids grow up with that, then the next time that they ate potato crisps at a party and they taste them and they go, oh yeah, I get that at home and I get it in roast potato form. And my, my dad cooks that up and he puts so much pepper in and I love the heat.


00:16:18:06 - 00:16:43:11

Alice

I give them more language to talk about food and give them more opportunity to appreciate the flavor. You know, one of the things that I love about veg as well is the color, the texture, the different, the variety of flavor bombs that you can create with all of that veg. You can't do that with what food? So let's set them up to win and let's set them up to expect more from every plate of food that's put in front of them.


00:16:43:22 - 00:16:58:20

Lyndi

Oh, Alice, you're always speaking my language. I love hearing all of this. And, you know, it's one of the reasons I want to have you on the podcast. I think I think I think you nailed it. This book, which I devoured over the weekend, and I am the kind of person who reads a cookbook like a novel. It really helped me.


00:16:58:20 - 00:17:15:24

Lyndi

I had people entertained on the weekends, and one of the things he talks about was being really simple. And I did for the first time, the food was delicious. Everyone enjoy themselves. I wasn't anxious and stressed about getting the food out on in time, and I just think this book is something that I'd love everyone to read. It really does align with this whole no wellness Wankery approach.


00:17:15:24 - 00:17:21:21

Lyndi

It's about the love of food, and I'd love for everyone to check it out. Wait, where can people grab your new book, The Joy of Better Cooking?


00:17:22:07 - 00:17:51:08

Alice

You can head online The Joy of Better Cooking dot com. You can find it via my website. Alice Dot Recipes is all you need to pop into your search bar and you can also find it at all. Good bookshops, gift stores, your local Kmart, Big W, Target it will David Jones Myer for people overseas in North America it'll be out in the fall for those in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and the Netherlands.


00:17:51:08 - 00:17:54:13

Alice

You will have it on your shelves any day right now.


00:17:54:14 - 00:18:01:17

Lyndi

How delicious, how delicious. And I know a lot of people are also on Instagram. So your handle on Instagram is what is it.


00:18:02:01 - 00:18:05:19

Alice

Alice in frames like the glasses come and find me.


00:18:05:19 - 00:18:11:23

Lyndi

Go find Alice. She's divine, she's lovely. You're going to enjoy following her just like I do, hopefully. Alice, thank you so much for coming on the show.


00:18:12:10 - 00:18:23:16

Alice

Lyndi Thank you. It's been a joy. Hey everyone.


00:18:23:17 - 00:18:41:19

Lyndi

And before we get started in the podcast episode, I just want to tell you a little bit about how I might be able to help you if you want to get a healthy relationship with food because oh my goodness, there's a whole lot of stuff that's working against us all the time. Hello, diet culture. So if you ever wanted a little bit more personalized support, check out my program.


00:18:41:19 - 00:18:56:16

Lyndi

Keep it real. Especially if you're struggling with binge eating. Do you feel like every Monday you start from scratch? If you feel like you know what you should be eating, but you just can't stick to it if you feel like you want to eat healthier. But honestly, it just feels like you're out of control through your face planting into the fridge.


00:18:56:16 - 00:19:14:16

Lyndi

All the pantry I can help I you binge either and I really do. I do get it. So check out keep it real. Use the code podcast to get 20% off if you if you get it via the the website and also I also got my app called back to basics. Back to basics is an app to help you be healthy without dieting and help you work on your body.


00:19:14:16 - 00:19:36:00

Lyndi

Image gives you a whole bunch of hundreds of recipes that are super quick and easy to make, so you can just be healthy without having to get obsessed with that at all, without it taking over your life, because that's the way it should be. Plus, you get mindset support for me inside the app. You also get a whole bunch of workouts that you can do at home while you can still just do your normal workouts.


00:19:36:09 - 00:19:48:03

Lyndi

But check out back to basics. You can get it for free for seven days. Check out Back to Basics on my website, use the code again podcast to get 20% off. And I'd love to see in there. I'd love to see in there at.