Eating vegetables — cooked or raw — is always a good idea. Something worth investigating (don’t worry, I already did the investigating for you) is whether cooking your veggies is actually robbing your healthy produce of the nutrients your body was so looking forward to.
After all research was done, the bottom line is that most produce does hurt from using heat. Though some vegetables, such as tomato and carrots, benefit from the cooking — heat breaks open the plant cells in tomatoes, allowing for your body to better absorb the lycopene; the beta carotene levels in carrots are increased — let’s be honest, who has the time or energy to look up whether every vegetable you cook should hit the heat or not.
Your best option? Choose one of two methods: steaming or quick stir-frying. Luckily, for the busy cook both can be (and should be!) done quickly. Time is the nutrient bandit; the longer it’s exposed to heat, the more you lose.
One common misconception is that boiling is one of the better methods. Yet, submerging your produce in hot water leeches out most of the nutrients, therefore steaming is your golden ticket. Don’t have a steamer? No worries, I have a solution!
Place your produce in a small bowl, half way submerged in the water, cover and heat. I have had great success cooking broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus by simply nuking them for 2 minutes.
A great DIY steamer needs only three things: a pot, colander and lid. Boil water, place the colander on top of the pan (putting your veg of choice in the colander) and cover. Put that on the back burner and cook the rest of your dinner while it steams to perfection.
This is my favorite (and most used!) way to keep maximum nutritional value and taste. The key, though, is to flash-fry, by adding your veggies to an already hot pan and getting a really quick cook. I choose to use PAM, as opposed to oil or butter, and let the sauce be my liquid vehicle in the pan.
Your final option is to make a smoothie! Smoothies can be incredibly versatile and allow you to get maximum nutritional punch by adding both fruit AND vegetables. I promise you, this is easy AND yummy.
Using a blender or food processor, I like to combine spinach, carrots, berries, OJ or apple juice. You can also add yogurt, milk, ice, etc, depending on your preference.
Not up your alley? Check out this website for some great veggie smoothie ideas: http://www.smoothieweb.com/category/vegetable-smoothies/
Regardless of how you choose to cook your vegetables, simply having them is still a step in the right direction. Try out some different methods and find which one works for you! Either way, if you make it your own, it’s gonna be great.