Did you know that cooking vegetables correctly is just as important to your health as eating vegetables? Depending on the type of pot, method, oil and condiments you cook with, you can end up with either a tasty but barely nutritive dish or a meal rich in vitamins, minerals and flavor.
In this article you’ll find the key to harnessing the goodness of your vegetables, easily, with just a few simple steps.
What oil do I use?
The first step is to choose a quality vegetable oil that works well with high temperatures, since a majority of oils lose their nutritional value or become toxic when heated. The best oil to use is coconut oil, but olive oil comes in a close second.
Both should be cold pressed, and organic oils are always recommended.
Other oils such as sunflower oil and sesame oil can be used to flavor or garnish prepared dishes. While they’re also healthy, they don’t do well when used to cook.
What pot should I use?
Science and research have shown that many pots and kitchen utensils can become toxic over time, releasing their chemical components as toxins that build up in our systems, which can be difficult to eliminate and can cause serious illness.
We recommend using stainless steel pots and pans, cast iron, glass, ceramic or titanium, preferably. You should avoid aluminum, and above all, pots and pans lined with teflon, which many studies say contain carcinogenic properties that cause harm in the long term.
When you cook your vegetables by steaming them, you hold onto all those wonderful nutritional properties present in the vegetable, and allow the vegetable to better maintain its color and texture.
It’s a very light way to cook, since there are no oils involved.
One way to cook vegetables healthily and quickly is to make a stir fry using very little oil. If you’ve got a Chinese wok handy, even better, since this type of pan allows the heat to evenly cook the vegetables into a crisp finish and maintain their flavors.
Grilled or baked
These two options are also very healthy and can ensure that vegetables conserve their flavor and nutritional properties well. And, in addition, grilling or baking gives your meals a delicious flavor.
Some vegetables we can consume raw but the hard texture of others, such as broccoli or cauliflower, make it difficult. Creating marinades with using a mixture of healthy oils, vinegar, sea salt, brown sugar, lime and spices can help solve that problem. Let your vegetables marinate for approximately two hours to soften them, making them easier to eat and digest.
You can also make healthy vegetable infusions that can help improve your digestive functions, by mixing vegetables (such as carrots and beets) with mineral or filtered water with salt (a teaspoon of sea salt per liter of water is recommended). You can leave the infusion to steep in a hermetically sealed container for at least two weeks. Once opened, what you don’t drink can be stored in your refrigerator.
The seeds of plants, like broccoli or leeks for example, can be germinated. You can use seedlings as a garnish in salads, soups, tortillas or other meals. It’s as easy as putting your seeds in a humid location, rather than water where they can begin to rot, and in a warm location until the the seeds begin to sprout roots.
All seedlings contain nutritional elements rich in vitamins and minerals. When consumed, they provide your body with healthy fuel. And as a bonus, they give your meals a unique and original touch.
When you cook, always use sea salt and avoid other refined salts or table salts, which can lack essential minerals.
You can also play with spices to flavor your foods; ginger, cumin, dried peppers, oregano, fresh basil, dried tomatoes or peppers are excellent flavoring options that also help in digestion.
When using legumes
If you are going to include legumes in your vegetable dishes, we recommend always using a bit of kombu seaweed and cumin to better soften the legumes and facilitate digestion.
Images courtesy of David Robert Wright, epicure, daily recipes.