Friday, December 28, 2012

The Healthiest Way To Cook Your Vegetables


by Sarah

When cooking vegetables, do you ever wonder what the healthiest method of preparing them is? Often times, recipes require cooking precious veggies in a way that will give you the most taste value, which unfortunately wipes out many of the benefits of eating them at all. As a gift for Christmas, I received a wonderful health food book, The World's Healthiest Foods, by George Mateljan. This book goes in to great detail about not only what some of the healthiest foods out there are, but how to prepare them (and even gives recipes).

 Here is an easy list of the most common vegetables and how to cook them, while still keeping them full of nutrients.  If vegetables aren't cooked carefully, you can destroy their beneficial antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients. 












Before we jump into how to cook each vegetable and how long, let's first look at a brief description Mateljan gives of his top three methods for cooking vegetables:
Healthy Saute- An important feature of this method is that it uses no fats or oils. Heating fat or oils has been found to create free radicals and carcinogenic compounds, which are harmful to our health. Healthy saute quickly cooks vegetables in a minimal amount of time, concentrating their natural flavor and moisture. 
Healthy Steaming- This method brings out the vibrant color of vegetables while giving them a delightful al-dente texture.  It is a gentle moist way of cooking that preserves flavor, color, and nutrients. It is a quick method of cooking because, compared to boiling, it you don't have to wait for as much water to come to a boil  (2-3 minutes for steaming versus 10-15 minutes for boiling). It's also energy efficient. The lower nutrient loss from steaming is the main reason this method of cooking is so often recommended. 
Quick Boiling- This is a commonly used cooking method but one that does dilute some of the flavor from the vegetables.  Some water-soluble vitamins, such as the Bs and C, are also lost. However, it is the method preferred for cooking spinach, beet greens, and Swiss chard because some studies have shown that it helps reduce the oxalate content of these vegetables.

Asparagus- Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw 
Avocados- no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Beets- Healthy Steaming (15 minutes), okay to eat raw
Beet Greens-Quick Boiling (2 minutes), 
Bell Peppers- Healthy Saute (7 minutes), okay to eat raw
Bok Choy- Healthy Saute (4 minutes), 
Broccoli- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Brussel Sprouts- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), 
Carrots- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Cabbage (Red)-Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
                (Green)-Healthy Steaming (5 minutes),
Cauliflower- Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Celery-Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Collard Greens- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), 
Corn- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), 
Crimini Mushrooms- Healthy Saute (7 minutes), 
Cucumbers- no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Eggplant-Healthy Saute (7 minutes), not suggested to be eaten raw
Fennel- Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Green Peas-Heathly Saute (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Garlic- Healthy Saute (1 minute), okay to eat raw
Green Beans-Healthy Steaming (5 minutes)
Kale-Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Leeks-Healthy Saute (7 minutes), okay to eat raw
Mustard Greens-Healthy Saute (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Olives-no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Onions-Healthy Saute (7 minutes), okay to eat raw
Potatoes-Healthy Steaming (10 minutes)
Romaine Lettuce-no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Sea Vegetables-no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Shiitake Mushrooms-Healthy Saute (7 minutes)
Spinach-Quick Boiling (1 minute), okay to eat raw
Squash, Summer-Healthy Saute (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Squash, Winter-Healthy Steaming (7 minutes)
Sweet Potatoes-Healthy Steaming (10 minutes)
Swiss Chard-Quick Boiling (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Tomatoes-Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw

Source: The World's Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan
Photo Credit: Find this photo on Pinterest here.

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