Vegetables have an abundant supply of vitamins and minerals that are essential to the life of each cell and thus for optimum health and pleasant dispositions. For nutrition, the chief purpose for eating vegetables is the high vitamin and mineral content. The following steps in preparation I present here will ensure maximum nutritive value.
1. Fresh: Ideally, vegetables should be gathered just before being cooked, (own of the joys of a garden!). But whatever your source, choose vegetables that are as fresh as possible. For example, know what days produce comes in at your grocery store.
2. Wash quickly: and dry immediately to prevent the water-soluble nutrients and natural flavors from being washed away. Use a plastic scouring pad or stiff brush for cleaning vegetables.
3. Chill in a dark place as quickly as possible. Some B vitamins are destroyed by light and at room temperature. Vitamin C is destroyed by contact with oxygen. Cut, chop or shred vegetables when chilled, and if it will be a while before serving or cooking, return to refrigerator.
4. Peeling, next to soaking, causes the greatest nutritive loss. The vitamins and minerals are concentrated immediately under the skin. The peeling helps hold the nutrients in the vegetable. Peeling should be done only when the skin is tough, bitter, or too uneven to clean thoroughly, or may be done after cooking whole. Be sure potatoes have all green removed.
5. Cutting: Vegetables should be cut and chopped as little as possible. The more surface area exposed to air and water, the more nutrients are lost. Try cutting some vegetables after they have all green removed.
6. Soaking causes the greatest nutritive loss of nutrients. Boiling – soaking while cooking – is soaking at its worst. Studies have shown 4 minutes of boiling a whole vegetable causes losses of 20-45% of total minerals, 75% of natural sugars, and even greater losses of some vitamins. Since vegetable are frequently soaked both before and during cooking, and boiled longer than 4 minutes, these losses are commonly greater.
7. Cooking: is necessary for some vegetables (legumes) and is preferred by many people with other vegetables. If cooked properly, vegetables can retain the major amount of nutrients and their original bright color and flavor.
- Time: The shorter cooking time, the more delicious the flavor and the greater the nutritive value. Make it a rule to cook vegetables in the shortest time possible, just until crispy tender, guarding carefully against overcooking. The bright colors, as well as flavor and texture, will be preserved yielding a much more palatable dish.
- Water: Waterless cookware or microwave cooking without water are the best methods of cooking vegetables to retain their nutrients. If these methods are not used, use only enough water to keep vegetables from burning. (Do not cover with water) or use a collapsible steam rack in the pan.
- Boiling or steaming: Start vegetables in boiling water to conserve the greatest possible amount of nutrients. Cook in a covered saucepan and keep covered during cooking time. The only exception to this rule is with bright green reached, to retain their color.
- Stir-frying: is an excellent method also. Bring enough water to cover the bottom of a frying pan to boil using medium heat. Add sliced or chopped vegetables, frequently stirring until the desired doneness.
Pressure cooking should just be reserved for “emergencies” for cooking vegetables. Despite the convenience of immediate results, the increased temperature does kill more vitamins. The pressure cooker, with its rack, may be used for steaming with the pressure not applied.
- Cooking tips aids:
Salt attracts moisture, and when a vegetable is salted at the beginning of cooking, its juice which carries vitamins, minerals, sugars, and flavors, are drawn out. Although baking soda will help retain the green color of some vegetables, you should not use it as it makes them soft and mushy, and causes more nutrient loss
a small amount of lemon juice added to the cooking water will help restore the color of red cabbage and beets but will cause broccoli to turn olive green.
8. Serving: Serve as soon as the vegetable is cooked. Keeping vegetables warm after they are cooked causes loss of food value, particularly vitamins. If they must wait, allow to cool, then reheat.