You’re well aware that veggies are an important part of healthy eating. The question of how to best cook them, however, may be more a gray area.
It’s true that certain meal preparation methods can decrease the amount of nutrients that veggies have. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, boiling is a traditional way to cook veggies, but water soluble nutrients such as vitamin C can be lost in this process.
Prepare veggies properly
Serving vegetables ensures that you and your family are leading healthy lifestyles. If you have young kids, finding the time to prepare foods can be limited. Being aware of the quickest and best cooking methods that allow the veggies to retain the most nutrients can help you better plan meals.
If you’re unsure of the best ways to serve vegetables, here are some tips.
- Steam them: Prevent water-soluble nutrients from seeping out by cooking veggies using as little water as possible. This means avoiding the traditional boiling method. Steaming is good because the water is heated into a gas, which then cooks the food, ensuring that the nutrients stay inside the veggies. If you let the water boil before putting the vegetables in, you’ll limit the amount of water that they’re exposed to.
- Put them in a pressure cooker: These items are a great go-to for parents who want to make a big dinner but don’t have much time to cook. They’re also great for cooking veggies. This method takes about the same amount of time to cook vegetables as the microwave.
- Roast them in the oven: The AICR pointed out that there are heat-sensitive nutrients such as vitamins C and B. However, since this method doesn’t involve using any water, the amount of nutrients that can be lost isn’t serious.
- Stir frying veggies: One of the tastiest ways to prepare vegetables is stir frying. The AICR stated that you can shorten cooking time and the amount of heat that the food is exposed to by cutting them up into smaller pieces, allowing them to cook quickly.
- Grilling: Lightly coat your asparagus, eggplant or zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper, lay in tin foil and throw them on the grill. They’ll absorb that great smokey flavor and taste fantastic.
Choose the right vegetables
Another factor that’ll impact your meal preparation is whether you use frozen or fresh veggies. But which variety is better? EatingWell magazine pointed out that frozen varieties aren’t as bad as previously expected, according to Gene Lester, Ph.D., who is a plant physiologist with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Center.
The produce is picked when they’re in a ripe state. Though they do lose some nutrients when they’re blanched in hot water, the speed at which they’re frozen allows them to retain many nutrients.
But what about fresh vegetables? These can be great too, since they don’t go through the flash freezing process. However, you’ll want to limit your purchasing of these items to veggies that are in season. This ensures that they’re as fresh as possible and carry all their nutrients onto your family’s plates.
Chances are, your home will always be filled with a mixture of both fresh and frozen produce, and that’s how it should be. EatingWell suggested buying fresh produce that’s in-season, and opting for frozen ones that aren’t. Furthermore, you should look for packages with the USDA shield, which are held to higher standards than “U.S. No. 1” types.