Cooking Vegetables with Maximum Nutritional Value

Fresh Steamed Vegetables

Vegetables can be a tough thing to cook, particularly if one is trying to eat healthier.  Overcooked green beans swimming in pork fat are somewhat better than nothing, if that's the only way they're making it onto the plate at dinnertime, but properly prepared vegetables don't need to be a mushy slick to be tasty, and it's not that tough to do a better job in preparing them.

For raw vegetables, knife skills or a good mandoline slicer can make a big difference in how the family feels about eating them on a regular basis.  Often slicing or julienning vegetables can make something more palatable, easier to chew, and tastier as well.  Cabbage is a good example of this, as coleslaw style salads are easier to take on than raw cabbage leaves. 

Various lettuces, especially the bitter ones, can be used to add flavor without overwhelming a salad by being sliced or broken up into smaller pieces.  Purple cabbage can go into a lettuce salad if it is sliced thinly, adding color and crunch, where large pieces would quickly lose their appeal.  Raw vegetables and fruits are also great in smoothies.

Cooked vegetables, in order to get their best nutritional value, take a bit more finesse, although knife skills can still be mighty handy for many of them.  Vegetables, if they are cut, should be cut so that they are all the same size, so that they cook at the same rate.  Steaming, or quickly stir-frying vegetables delivers them to the plate with their maximum nutritional value intact. 

As vegetables cook, water soluble vitamins and other nutrients leach out into the cooking water.  The fiber is still retained, but many of the vitamins are lost.  Tender-crisp is often a phrase used to describe a properly cooked vegetable.  This means that they are cooked just long enough that they are not hard, but still crisp.  


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