Health is one of the major concerns in today’s hectic world. Eating healthy helps you stay fit but at times it becomes difficult. This may be due to our bad eating habits, the food we choose or the way in which we cook. Nutrition experts or dietitians have suggested a variety of food items, ideas and methods to prepare them in order to keep yourself healthy. Out of the various food items that we consume daily, vegetables take a major chunk from the lot. They carry loads of vitamins, minerals and other essential substances which our body needs in the long run. Eating them regularly in large amounts is a very good health habit. It can protect you from various ailments like problems related to the heart, certain forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes.
When vegetables are eaten in the correct way, its benefits increase considerably. They can be eaten both raw and cooked. When cooked their nutritional benefits may decrease to a certain extent. But when you follow the correct technique, there is nothing to lose. Here are some ways of cooking them in the correct manner and deriving maximum health benefits.
Derived from the French word ‘saute’, sauteing means ‘to jump’. Vegetables when added to a slightly greased pan, tend to jump. This is sauteing. Low heat and very little oil is required in this process and less oil means more nutrition. Vegetables are cooked till they become tender and generally soft vegetables like mushrooms, onions, asparagus, snow peas, baby artichokes and sweet peppers are cooked by this method. All the necessary vitamins and minerals remain intact and there is no change in taste and color.
Vegetables are cooked over high heat in a wok or a heavy bottomed pan (for equal distribution of heat) and is constantly stirred to prevent burning. Oils with high heating point like canola oil is generally used for stir-frying and sauteing. Food value is retained in this process.
Vegetables like green beans and broccoli can be cooked by putting them in full boiled water and tossing them quickly. This is also referred to as blanching. The crispness and flavor is not altered in the process.
Water is also used in simmering. But the temperature is low in this case compared to boiling.Vegetables are added before the water starts to boil and is cooked over low heat. This method is used for cooking certain vegetables like potatoes, dried beans and beets which take more time to become soft and eatable.
Oven is used for roasting. At first, the vegetables are drizzled with vegetable oil and then placed on a baking tray or sheet and baked at a temperature of 400 degree Celsius. Asparagus, onions, squash etc., are good for roasting. This technique preserves all the vitamins and minerals as well as the taste.
Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, green beans, cauliflower, carrots and other similar soft vegetables are good for steaming. In this process, the vegetables are cooked without placing them under water. A utensil called steamer is used in the process. Here, the vegetables are placed on a porous plate and water is boiled underneath. All the vitamins and minerals present in the vegetables are retained which makes them very nutritious.
This technique is very good for cooking vegetables like zucchini, onions, squash, sweet peppers, corn, potatoes, bell peppers etc. Vegetables are grilled on a barbeque. Generally, it is done outdoors over an open fire. The grilled vegetables are caramelized and flavors are preserved.
9. Vegetable- based sauces
Many different kinds of sauces and spreads can be prepared with a particular vegetable or a combination of many. These can be used as side dishes and they are quite healthy. Romesco sauce from Spain, is made out of almonds, hazelnuts, vinegar and olive oil combined with some healthy roasted red peppers. Mix pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and few basil leaves in a food processor to make Italian pesto sauce.
So, if you want to remain healthy and fit, you can try out these methods of cooking vegetables and derive as much nutrition as you want without compromising on the taste. You will be nourished which in turn will boost your energy and will also help you in building a strong immune system.