We know you prefer caramel macchiatos and grilled cheese compared to your broccoli and kale. However, you have to agree that vegetables are really good for you. Whether or not you eat them on a daily basis, you’d be excited to know that if prepared a certain way, you can significantly increase their benefits (while eating them in a delicious manner).
The answer is not to eat things raw all the time as cooking and preparing foods dissolves brawny outer layers and cellular structures of vegetables. Cooking actually allows the body to absorb vital nutrients. In fact, registered dietitian Elaine Magee proclaimed that “studies found that eating cooked spinach and carrots resulted in higher blood levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which then converts to vitamin A.” More vitamin A isn’t the only benefit. Magee adds that cooking vegetables also helps increase the amount of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and iron, available to the body.
Here are five ways to try making your vegetables.
1. Steaming over boiling, all day every day.
Cooking rule number is to keep the cooking time, temperature, and cooking liquids at a low. Thankfully, steaming embodies that rule, making it one of the best ways to prepare vegetables. However, be sure to add a bit of olive oil because many of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble. This means that our body absorbs these vegetables better in the presence of fat. Adding olive oil will boost this nutrient absorption.
Cool foods to steam:
-Artichokes to obtain tasty leaves for dipping
-Name a vegetable, any vegetable: add citrus juice and zest to the water for more flavor
-Vegetables combined with herbs
2. Pop them in the microwave.
Although microwaves are typically seen as the scary cooking appliance due to studies that link its use to cancer via radiation, microwaving veggies actually increasing antioxidant preservation (with the exception of cauliflower). Microwaving also uses barely any water and works to heat vegetables from within. A study from 2003 also discovered much higher levels of phytonutrients, compounds naturally found in plants that have many health benefits and disease protection, when vegetables are heated in water.
Cool foods to microwave:
– Chopped vegetables and an egg or two for a protein packed brunch
– Frozen/canned vegetables for when life gets hard
– A potato topped with cottage cheese, chives and salt and pepper
3. Griddling: not just for pancakes.
Repeat the following to yourself in the mirror every morning: “griddles are not only for vegetables”. Yes, folks, it’s true. Beets, celery, swiss chard, and green beans all cook exceptionally well on griddles, as griddles work to retain antioxidants. However, it is important that you be careful as griddles are prepared with a coating of nonstick chemicals that may contain toxins linked to cancer. Look for griddles without this coating and you’ll be on your way to safer and nutrient packed veggies.
Cool food to griddle:
– Carrots, lemon juice, black beans, and potatoes
– Honey drizzled peaches
– Stir fry
– Tomatoes, cheese, and lemon juice
4. Bake, bake, bake.
Ovens never seem to fail us, from cakes and pies to cookies and cobblers, ovens are an essential tool for preparing all types of food. This includes vegetables. Baking is subjective. It proves to be excellent for artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, peppers as it helps retain antioxidant values but not for carrots, brussel sprouts, leeks, peas, zucchini, onions, beans which experience decreases in nutrient levels.
Cool foods to bake:
– Sweet potato fries by slicing and seasoning with olive oil, pepper, and salt
– Peaches sliced in half, drizzled with honey, pecans, and a sprinkle of cinnamon
– Potato topped with cheese and broccoli
5. Money over everything, but sauteing over frying.
Whenever you plan on preparing popular Mediterranean vegetables, the best way to go is to saute vegetables in extra virgin olive oil that boosts antioxidants that can help prevent diseases such as cancer, as well an increase that sautes to increase nutrient absorption.
But when one sautees, the best oil to use is olive oil due to its high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Even though olive oil has a lower smoke point than canola oil, when we saute vegetables, we control the heating temperatures that vegetables are cooked at, so it is easy to prevent higher temperatures.
Cool foods to saute:
– Spinach with garlic and olive oil
– A medley of onions and carrots
– Green or yellow squash with onion garlic, salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese
– A multitude of peppers
These methods and recipe ideas are slightly more unique for healthy eating as compared to a plain salad. If you’re wondering which of these is the best method, the truth is, there is no explicit one. The answer depends on the vegetable and what nutrients and vitamins it contains. It is important to stay on top of the research to know what method suits the vegetable you’re out to prepare, and once you find the right method, you’ll be on your way to vegetable bliss.