What’s great about cooking vegetables is that less really is more. What I mean by this is the less you tamper with your vegetables, the more you’ll get from them. When you boil vegetables in a pan of water, you’re actually stripping them of vital nutrients. This can lead to a loss of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and folate. Here are some quick tips to ensure you retain the nutrients in your veggies when it’s time to slice, dice, and get your cook on!
- Skin and leaves: Most of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are found in the skin and outer leaves. Since vitamins dissolve in water, try cleaning your vegetables by scrubbing them with a soft brush and some water. This way you won’t have to peel your veggies (like potatoes, or carrots), and you’ll keep all of the vitamins intact. And the leaves from radishes or onions can be used in your dishes as well, since they are rich in vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
- Steaming: Remember, you want to cook your vegetables as quickly as possible, and with the least amount of water as possible to retain their nutrients. You can steam your vegetables, steam-fry them, or microwave them. If you don’t have a steamer, put a small amount of water in a pot. Cover the pot and the built up steam inside will help reduce the overall cooking time. Shorter cooking times will help your vegetables maintain their nutrients and color.
- Chopping: Cut your vegetables into large pieces. This helps reduce vitamin loss, because there are fewer surfaces exposed when they are steamed. If you can, boil your potatoes whole with the skin on to prevent potassium from leaching into the water rather than sticking around in your spuds.
- Speediness: Vegetables like broccoli, snow peas, green beans, and asparagus should be cooked as quickly as possible. Unlike potatoes or carrots, you just want them cooked until crisp. Overcooking them will destroy their vitamin B and C contents.
- Stews and sauces: All of the leftover nutrient-rich liquid from your vegetable cooking session can be reused later for vegetable stock, stews, or sauces. If you’re not ready to use it right away, just freeze for later use.
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