Vegetables are nutritious no matter how you eat them. Unfortunately, some ways of cooking, such as over-boiling, are less nutritious than other ways of preparing your veggies. Let’s take a look at six ways to prepare vegetables that maximize their nutrients while maintaining high levels of tastiness:
1. Eat Vegetables With Your Vegetables
While it sounds silly when you say it, there are many sneaky ways to get vegetables on top of your main vegetables. There are many variations here; frequently, a few added vegetables add more flavor, too. Avocado salad dressing is an easy way to add more vegetables to a dish already containing vegetables, as well as veggie spreads and dips such as baba ghanouj and hummus. These dips are all great with crackers and other bread products, and they can also make eating plain, sliced vegetables more fun and filling. Make your own tomato sauce at home, and throw in a few extra vegetables, as a few extra carrots and celery fill out the flavor as well as adding more nutrients. If you’re going to spice it up, eggplant or roasted red peppers are a good idea, too. Other sauces can have extra veggies added as well; there is definitely room to get creative.
2. Know When to Steam
Remember that steaming is better than boiling for preserving both flavor and nutrients, and that not over-cooking vegetables is important in preserving as many nutrients as possible. If you’d like to cook your vegetables with minimal oil and effort, steaming is the best way to go in order to preserve vitamins such as C. Cooking vegetables also releases some important nutrients such as dietary carotenoids, which are then more easily absorbed with some healthy fats. So go ahead and drizzle some olive oil on your steamed broccoli to maximize nutritional benefits!
Tip: when steaming vegetables, add aromatic spices or other flavorsome ingredients to the water, such as a few cloves of garlic in order to add even more nutrients to your dish, and to make the kitchen smell amazing. Of course, adding flavor and nutrients afterwards is always an option!
3. Make Soups
Soups are the ideal, simple way to keep all of the nutrients from your vegetables. While there are many different kinds, just throwing vegetables in a pot is always super easy. Follow the next step on spices to make your vegetable soups healthier and taste nicer. Making soup is one of the simplest and most time efficient ways of keeping all of your nutrients in one pot. And since we are heading into the summer months, lighter soups are still a lovely late dinner, and gazpacho is a fun, cold soup for the summer days. Give this recipe for watermelon gazpacho a try on the next sunny day!
4. Add Some Spice
Not only are garlic green beans yummier than plain ones, but they’re also healthier. Frequently, adding flavor to vegetables is a way to add nutrients to them as well, as many spices are very nutritious. For example, turmeric, just like ginger, can act as a natural inflammatory and immune booster. Follow this link to read about all of the health benefits of turmeric, and go ahead and throw it in a curry! Parsley is another garnish or flavor-booster that is also good for your health. Not only will it make dishes look prettier, but it’s also very high in nutrients. Many other spices contain important nutrients, so check out what’s out there.
5. Cut Your Veggies Correctly
When sautéing or stir-frying vegetables, cut them into even pieces so that they all cook evenly. Make sure to stir in healthy oils so that they are all coated at the same time, as the oil will keep in the nutrients. Cook whole or in large pieces when boiling, in order to expose the least amount of surface area to the water, and as a result permitting nutrient loss. As detailed below, keeping the peels on is a good idea, as well. Remember that once vegetables have been cut, they lose nutrients more quickly. In addition to this, soaking them once they have been cut will cause nutrient loss into the water, so soak vegetables that need soaking before cutting them.
Tip: in the case of garlic, letting it sit out for a bit after chopping can also maximize the nutritional benefits. Apparently if garlic is cooked right after being crushed, it loses some important nutrients.
6. Use the Peels
Keeping the peels on your fruits and vegetables is a great way to get more nutrients out of your food, as well as adding more flavor and cutting down on waste. Peels on a variety of produce are high in fiber, packed with nutrients and totally edible. This means keeping the peels on your potatoes, eating apples with the peels on and eating the broccoli stocks. Even peels that aren’t always the most appetizing can be consumed, such as kiwi and orange. In order to sneak an orange peel in, try slicing them finely and adding to veggie chillies or stir-fries.
Tip: if your produce is not organic, be sure to wash extra carefully before eating (or even if it is)!
Image source: Fresh Pumpkin and Kale Hummus