Last updated on Jun 18th, 2020 at 06:22 am
You probably know to stay away from deep-frying your vegetables in a toxic vat of trans-fats, but here are a few other options to consider, as well as some techniques to bear in mind to cook your vegetables the healthy way.
Choose your tools wisely
A great way to preserve nutrients is through steaming. This process lets vegetables essentially stew in their own juices, and retain all their natural goodness. As an added bonus thereâ??s no need to add butter or oil to retain moisture, because while other cooking methods basically use dry heat to cook food, you can think of steaming as using â??wet heatâ??.
Microwaves have endured their fair share of criticism over the years, with many claims that their convenience is severely offset by damaging the nutrients of food. Thankfully though, studies donâ??t seem to agree with these paranoid claims, so you can microwave away. However, do be sure to use a microwavable container, and because microwaves can dry out food, splash some water or place a paper towel over the food before cooking.
A great way to use your microwave for cooking is to microwave-steam your food. Not only do studies show that this is one of the best cooking methods to retain nutrients in your foods, but it is also possibly the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to cook foods, especially veggies. As an added bonus, your foods wonâ??t dry out like with normal microwaving.
Some might feel that microwaving or steaming food sacrifices too much flavour though. In that case, grilling might strike a good balance between health and flavour. Not too much nutrition is lost, and grilled foods are infused with a delicious smoky taste. Vegetables can maintain their moisture with only minimal added fats and oils. However, there is research suggesting that charred, blackened food can in fact be carcinogenic. So if you do opt to grill your food, keep a close watch that you donâ??t char your food.
Boiling is a quick and easy method to cook vegetables, but the large volume of water can dissolve and wash away water-soluble vitamins and up to 70% of minerals in some foods. On the other hand though, a report in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry concluded that boiling was better for carrots, zucchini and broccoli than steaming, frying or serving them raw.
With stir-frying, because cooking is so quick, the flavours, colours and nutrients are retained well. Just be sure to only use a moderate amount of oil in your pan, and begin with foods that will take longer to fry, like carrots, and later add in those that donâ??t need as much time to cook, like sprouts and mushrooms.
Techniques to Keep in Mind
When cooking with oils, only add as much as you need, and use an oil with a high smoke point, like groundnut, corn or rapeseed oil. So while extra virgin oil is lauded as being a healthy option, itâ??s best enjoyed as a dressing, not a cooking oil.
Never overcook your vegetables. Generally, the longer you cook food, the more nutrients you will lose. So aim to keep a little bite to your veggies, instead of reducing them to mush.
Steaming is probably the healthiest way to cook vegetables, but if you feel like they donâ??t taste very good, just fix that with seasoning. Lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, olive oil and herbs are just some of the choices you have to make a healthy dressing with.
Bear in mind that many nutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble, meaning that to be optimally metabolised, they should ideally be consumed with a source of fat. So if youâ??re steaming, boiling or microwaving vegetables, drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil afterwards, or include a small handful of seeds.
And finally, a great step to healthier eating is including more veggies on your dinner plate, prepared with the right cookware. But of course itâ??s not going to help if your mushrooms are swimming in butter, your broccoli smothered in cheese, your potatoes deep-fried in oil, and your spinach saturated with cream. These might sound like the tastier options, but train yourself to enjoy the natural flavour and texture of your greens. You may find yourself surprised by how much you can actually come to like vegetables.
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.