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Practical Tips for Cooking Vegetables

Written: 12/12/2007

Eating vegetables is good, but you still need to know how to cook them well to preserve the vitamins, minerals and fiber in them.

Vegetables: A source of benefits for your health

The family of fruits and vegetables provides the organism micronutrients essential for the balance: vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

Each of these nutrients perform a specific function of their own and complement each other. One vitamin is scarce and the whole balance collapses. The vitamin C for example, is concerned at the same time in the anti-oxydative, anti-infectious and anti-allergic processes in our body. It reduces the toxicity of certain pollutants, increases the action potential of vitamin B9 and allows the iron to be better absorbed. It is safe to say that all these micronutrients are treasures that must be preserved during cooking.

Limit your stock and Soaking
  • Even before cooking vegetables, we have to limit the loss of vitamins during storage. This can waste up to 50% of the content of vitamin C. This is the case of potatoes after 3 months storage. A few days in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator also reduces the levels of fragile vitamins. It is therefore advisable to consume vegetables in the 24 to 48 hours after their purchase.

  • Soaking your vegetables in water can also make them lose their micronutrients. Vitamin C and vitamin B are partly dissolved in the water during soaking. A simple rinsing with running water and a low pressure is enough to clean the vegetables.
Steaming: The best way to cook vegetables

Heat destroys the fragile vitamins in a way proportional to time of cooking and the rise in the temperature. Fast cooking with the vapor, in a basket-steamer (to avoid the dissolution of minerals in water) is the best cooking method to keep nutritional qualities of vegetables. It is also the mode of cooking which protects best the exact savor of the vegetables.

Some practical tips:
  • Use the cooking water of vegetables make sauces, dressings and gravy. But you must take care to make sure that the vegetables are fresh and have not been sprayed with hazardous chemicals like nitrates, pesticides, else you will have them in the cooking water. If so, don't use the cooking water.

  • Eat raw vegetables regularly . Their micronutrient content is maximum. Here is a great collection of raw vegetables recipes which are relatively easy to prepare and are very nutritious.

  • Cook the potatoes with their skin. They lose fewer vitamins this way and are easier to peel after they have been cooked.

  • Vegetables must be cooked with boiling water. The high temperature of the water helps "coagulate" sugars on the surface to form a protective layer that prevents an important dissemination of micronutrients.

  • Prefer vegetables "al dente". A short cooking time retain more micronutrients.

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