Nick & Julie Anne Rhodes pulling the “ick” face

I have a theory that we all suffer from a little food bigotry. I’m sure it stems from being forced to eat vegetables we didn’t like as children, or being served a particularly heinous preparation of a certain food in the past. Why do we let that stop us from trying better versions of those foods, or entirely new things for that matter? We are letting our minds enslave our own taste buds! Most of our “dislikes” are in our heads rather than our mouths. I promise the Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Hash recipe below won’t resemble those Brussels sprouts your grandmother boiled to death for the holidays when you were a kid, so why not give it a try?

I admit I was a terribly finicky eater growing up. I’m fortunate my face didn’t freeze in the “ick” position (as I was threatened it might). With each food prejudice I conquer, I am finding that I actually like a whole slew of foods I’d never have considered before! From food made with edible flowers, to kangaroo meat, to completely animal free foods… the possibilities are endless once you open your mind. Becoming a more adventurous eater can be seriously gratifying, and at very least it makes for great conversation (and blogging). Who doesn’t need to be armed with a little “small talk” as we enter the party season?

Tatjana prefers to swim with the fish, not eat them

When Tatjana was little, her headmistress forced her to eat kedgeree (flaked smoked haddock, boiled eggs, and rice) at primary school. My daughter extracted her revenge and brought the house down when, at age 7, she read a poem she wrote called “I Hate Fish Pie” at a school assembly. To this day she complains vehemently whenever I order fish in a restaurant, although I’m slowly coaxing her to taste a tiny bite every so often. To her credit she is trying.

Julie Anne Rhodes

As a personal chef I have witnessed people happily expanding their palates when I withhold the provenience of that great Turkey Bolognese recipe I found in a Weight Watchers cookbook and simply call it Turkey Bolognese, or slip a little turnip into the Roasted Mixed Root Vegetables (a vegetable that unfailingly gets nixed in the client consultation). I don’t want you to think my clients are unsuspecting victims… I test every recipe myself for quality of flavor, and how well it holds up to the personal chef approach, but what harm could come from serving a healthier yet equally tasty version of a universal favorite?
I’m finding the same is true when you remove the “vegetarian” or “vegan” label on certain meals. My carnivorous clients love my Mama’s Artichoke Lasagna, but would complain if I told them I wanted to make a vegetarian entree this week. I’m equally guilty on that count… if someone else hadn’t popped that appetizer in my mouth before I could think about it being vegan at The Conscious Cook book launch… I’d have sneered and refused to try a bite. Now most of my meals are animal free!

What are you doing to tackle your food bigotry? Free your taste buds and make dinner a diverse world of flavor.

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Hash

Servings: 4

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves peeled, and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 4 slices pancetta (you could substitute bacon if you can’t get pancetta), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

1). Heat the oil in a large saute pan and add the pancetta, cook until crisp and browned. Add the butter and Brussels sprouts, cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

2). Add the maple syrup, and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Taste and adjust seasoning to balance the sweetness of the maple syrup and saltiness of the pancetta. Serve hot.

The vegan version of Maple Glazed Brussels Sprout hash

Note: Use 3 slices of Morningstar vegan bacon strips in place of the pancetta, and Earth Balance in place of the butter for a completely vegan version that is equally delicious!

PS. Happy Thanksgiving (and eating)!
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