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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  • November 21, 2009
    5:17 pm

    Ah yes, brussels sprouts are one of those things I've just learned to like in the last few years. I'm still terribly opposed to smoked fish, anchovies and sardines. But it's all making me feel a bit provincial so I've been trying to get into them all…one recipe at a time. Any suggestions for lovely anchovy recipes? Preferably ones where I don't taste the horrid little fish?

  • November 21, 2009
    10:17 pm

    Not a food bigot but a food appreciate … Thank God for the Food that sustains us the Breath that empowers us and the Friends like You that Inspire us …. Despite the challenges !!!! X x xDevon Buchanon

  • November 21, 2009
    11:43 pm

    I must admit, I try and taste all kinds of foods (I love my food), however I still cannot stomach brussels sprouts. I guess,yes it was the smell/taste of overcooked brussels sprouts as a child that made me dry reach! Somehow I'm not quite sure if I could ever stomach them. Who knows, I may just try your recipe.Both vegan and non-vegan recipes looks quite tempting.Aussie MumP.S Love the "I Hate Fish Pie" story. What a smart little girl.

  • November 23, 2009
    7:00 am

    Julie Anne-I found you through my dear friend Lisa on A BLOOMSBURY LIFE!Anything Lisa loves is always great.I love your recipes…even though I don't cook.And thanks for including vegetarians in your concepts…that is very modern, thoughtful, and creative! Appreciated.cheers, www.thestylesaloniste.comWill add you to my blog roll.

  • November 23, 2009
    7:11 am

    I still want to hear that famous poem of Tajana's… hilarious!!Thanks for the recipe – I will definitely be trying the vegan version this thanksgiving, looks yummy – I am definitely not a fan of boiled sprouts but LOVE them if done properly and this looks delishx

  • November 24, 2009
    7:15 am

    I have never enjoyed being a guinea pig quite as much as I did the night of your Concious Cook Challenge dinner party- I was one of the chosen few to get an invitation, and cannot remember a more delightful, delicious evening.The company was as yummy as the food was, and I was proud to be anointed President of the clean plate club!Thanks for opening my eyes to a whole new way of eating…btw-i still don't believe that cheesecake was vegan…that's how i justified another piece and why ryan literally got out of his car to come back for seconds!I could give up all animal products if you would cook like this for me!Here's to you Jewels…YOU are the rock star! Keep those yummy recipes coming- gonna try the brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving!xoxoTammi from Miami

  • November 26, 2009
    4:23 pm

    Noooo not the sprouts !!!Paul Mowatt

  • November 26, 2009
    4:28 pm

    I like them plain so delicious xxxx but your cooking is the best xxxAmanda Eliasch

  • November 26, 2009
    4:29 pm

    I just had brussel sprouts for the first time two weeks ago, never had them before because my mom never made them, so I hated them! Roasted them and added parmesan and pine nuts and they were delish! Thanks for posting about a unappreciated veggie! Happy Thanksgiving Jewels.Jessica Cahen Mintz

  • November 26, 2009
    4:37 pm

    Wow… Brussels sprouts stirs up a response! I'll have to write about more minority vegetables to see if I can't get your palates to grow, or at least provoke you into thinking about it.Welcome Diane… I'm amused that you like the recipes, but you don't cook! I'll just have to have you and Lisa for lunch or dinner sometime soon then.Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I'm looking forward to spending mine with an old friend that is very dear to me. Maybe even party hopping to try a few Thanksgiving spreads (greedy girl).

  • January 5, 2010
    12:08 am

    I made this tonight and loved it! My family will not eat sprouts at all, so this was mine, mine, mine. Thanks!