As diners get more health conscious, their food preferences start to shift from sauce-heavy meats to leafy green veggies.
As chefs, this means taking into careful consideration how the vegetables in our dishes are cooked, and trying to lock in as many vitamins, minerals and nutrients as possible while still delivering tasty treats. Read on to find out some ways how.
Raw veggies are great
For diners who love “getting back to nature”, raw vegetables are a fantastic choice. Serve these up in salads with just a little light sauce for a tasty snack, or add some meat options to transform a healthy salad into a hearty meal.
Cooked vegetables are also good
There are some benefits to cooking your veggies. The cooking process can, for example, increase the antioxidants levels in some foods such as tomatoes and broccoli. Cooking can also serve as a catalyst to release nutrients that would have been unavailable if consumed raw.
Roasting or baking vegetables is a great way to cook your veggies while retaining most of their vitamins. Since the vegetables are not cooked in water, the nutrients are not leaked into the water.
Steaming has been touted as the best way to cook vegetables because it involves very little water. Steaming, like roasting and baking, is a fat-free cooking method because it does not need added oils or fats. That’s a double bonus for health-conscious diners who are concerned about their waistlines and heart!
Vegetables cooked in a slow cooker or crock pot retain more of their natural vitamins and nutrients than harsher cooking methods – such as boiling – because the temperatures are lower. Although slow cooking in crock pots does allow some nutrients to leach into the water, most people use them for soups and stews so they are eating the nutrient-rich liquid along with the vegetables.
We recommend adding your vegetables into the slow cooker toward the end of the cooking process after the meat has been left simmering all day. This will prevent some of the unnecessary loss of nutrients in the slow cooker.
Because it is a quicker process, stir frying (or sautéing) keeps some of the original vitamins and nutrients in your vegetables, but it does add fat. To keep the vegetables as healthy as possible, try using good fats like olive oil instead of fat-laden oils.
If you’re interested in retaining as many nutrients as possible in your vegetables while preparing them, then boiling may be perhaps the worst way to prepare your veggies.
This is because boiling pulls vitamins, minerals, and nutrients out of the vegetables and into the cooking water. When the vegetables are done cooking, the water is often drained and thrown away – which means that we’re essentially pouring all the healthy vitamins and nutrients down the drain.
Healthy food can also be tasty food
With the right knowledge and technique, it’s very possible to cook dishes that are both healthy and tasty. So prepare your veggies right, and your health-loving diners will be excited to return for more – and they’ll probably tell all their friends about your “healthy-licious” menu too!
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