Wednesday, September 4, 2013

best way to cook vegetables

How to Eat Your Vegetables
By: Chef Cristian Feher

© Cristian Feher 2012 - Coconut Oil Roasted Vegetables
The title of this article may seem a bit childish, but what I want to do here is break down why we need vegetables in the first place, and explain how the different forms of vegetables compare. This may change the way you eat vegetables, and for some of you, it may actually tempt you to eat more!

Why do you need vegetables?

According to your mom, you have to eat your vegetables. But did she ever tell you why? Is it simply because starving children in Africa don't have any? Or, is there more to it? 

Put simply, vegetables provide you with four things: vitamins, enzymes, minerals and fiber. These are things your body needs in order to be healthy. 

Vitamins and enzymes are the molecular tools and raw materials that your body (which is a big chemical laboratory) uses to make, burn, build, and destroy other chemicals and compounds. Look at your body as a big factory. In one end goes in the raw materials, and at the other end you get a finished product. If a car factory is missing their weekly shipment of metal, for example, the factory shuts down. If they don't get their weekly shipment of screw drivers and wrenches (enzymes), they can't put the metal pieces together. I hope you get the analogy here. 

Minerals help to build and replenish bones. They also help to carry nerve impulses (electrolytes), and do a host of other things.

Fiber is also very important, and a lot of people do not get enough of it. Besides keeping you regular by helping to push soft foods through your digestive system, fiber also has another very important function. Fiber absorbs liquid - a lot of liquid! And in the case of the human body, some of the liquids that fiber absorbs are toxins. You can get rid of excess water and toxins by eating a lot of vegetable fiber. 

Is there a proper way to eat vegetables?

Well yes, and there are also different ways you can get them. I'll give you some examples below. But the first thing that you should know is that over-cooking can destroy those vitamins and enzymes. So, slightly cooked, or raw vegetables, will give you vitamins, enzymes, fiber and minerals. Whereas, veggies cooked all the way through will only provide you with minerals and fiber. 

Canned Vegetables 
They are overly cooked at the factory inside of the can at high heat.
Vitamins? Vit C, Vit A, Thiamine, Riboflavin destroyed. B-12 may be destroyed if it came in contact with iron or copper at the factory.
Enzymes? I don't think any are left.
Fiber? Yes.
Minerals? Yes.

Frozen Vegetables
Frozen vegetables, when thawed, have relatively the same vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fiber as fresh raw vegetables. The trick is not to over-cook them.
Vitamins? Yes, except for vitamin C which goes first when heated.
Enzymes? Some.
Fiber? Yes.
Minerals? Yes.

Raw Vegetables
Washed in cold water and served without heating. Can be cut, diced, sliced, etc.
Vitamins? Yes.
Enzymes? Yes.
Fiber? Yes.
Minerals? Yes.

Fresh, Cooked Vegetables
I generally blanch (quickly boil in salted water) my vegetables for no more than about 1 to 2 minutes. Green vegetables, like broccoli, will turn bright green after a few seconds in boiling water. This is a chemical reaction inside the vegetable that tells you to stop cooking them at this point. They are best eaten at this bright green point with most vitamins and enzymes intact, or cooled under cold water to stop the cooking process and stored. 
Vitamins? Most are retained.
Ezymes? Some are retained.
Fiber? Yes.
Minerals? Yes.

You can blanch, fry, sear, broil, roast and grill many different types of vegetables. Just remember to do it for a short period of time so that the internal temperature of the vegetable doesn't get too hot. As a general rule of thumb, if the vegetables are still crunchy they will have much more nutritional value than if they have been cooked soft. 

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