There is a way of cooking vegetables that will retain the most vitamins and other nutritional elements when you eat them. It’s quicker and simpler than boiling and retains much more flavor than microwaving as well.
Here’s how to steam your vegetables quickly and simply for the most nutrition and the best texture and taste.
Choosing Your Vegetables for Steaming
With some vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli, celery and greens, it’s simple to see when they are old and wilting and therefore easy to avoid. Root vegetables on the other hand can sometimes be harder to pick. Here’s a quick summary of what to look for with some popular root veggies:
Avoid any potatos with cuts, blemishes, dark spots and especially if they are sprouting or tinged with green as these can be toxic. Large, blemish free and dry skinned potatoes are usually best for steaming
While you don’t have to worry about a green tinge with sweet potatoes and they are rarely sprouting, similar rules apply otherwise. Bigger in size, firm to touch and blemish free is best. Once you find your sweet potatoes here’s a very tasty winter soup to make with them.
Smaller pumpkins are usually much better eating than the bigger breeds often made into Jack-O-Lanterns around Halloween. Sugar pie and Cheese varieties are popular with their great taste and creamy texture.
Look for pumpkins that feel relatively heavy for their size and have a uniform color. Check that the stem is hard and the skin firm and avoid any with bruises, cracks or heavy scarring.
These make an excellent replacement when pumpkins are not in season. Butternut squash have a similar nutritional profile to pumpkins and you choose them with a similar criteria in mind, although larger squash still taste great.
If you’ve never tried them before then this delicious curry butternut squash soup would be a great start.
Carrots are one root vegetable that really should be bought organic as they are particularly good at absorbing everything in the soil they are grown, including pesticides and even heavy metals.
Look for carrots that are bright in color rather than dull, free of obvious scarring and firm at the tip for the best taste.
To warm you up over the colder months, here’s a great tasting spicy carrot soup recipe full of antioxidants.
How to Cook Vegetables for the Best Taste and Nutrition
Many people boil vegetable like potatoes, pumpkin and carrots to cook them. Unfortunately, this will leech much of the nutrition into the boiling water and down the sink rather than into your body.
A much healthier cooking method is to steam your veggies. Once you have the right equipment this makes preparing them quick and easy, whilst preserving as much of their nutrition and flavor as possible.
First you’ll need a vegetable steamer. This universal steamer is a great way to steam all different kinds of veggies and will fit over the top of most regular and large sized saucepans.
Prepare your vegetables for steaming by scrubbing them with a scrubbing brush under warm water and then chopping them up with a large knife.
The thickness that you cut them at tends to determine how long your vegetables take to steam. Generally, smaller root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower can be quickly sliced up to half an inch or less and these will usually steam in around 10 minutes.
Green beans, bell peppers, snow peas and other softer vegetables will be even quicker, often only around 5 minutes. While larger root vegetables like pumpkins and butternut squash are harder to chop up thinly and are fine in inch wide strips or wider. These will usually take 15 – 20 minutes.
The best way to check that they’re ready is to put a fork into the thickest part of the steaming vegetable. Once it goes in easily they are done and ready to serve next to a healthy protein source like these marinated garlic, ginger and chili chicken breasts or healthy tropical salmon patties.
Mixed vegetables are a far healthiest base for lunches and dinners than fattening high carbohydrate grain foods and steaming is the best way to cook them to maximize their nutrition and taste.