Best Ways to Cook Vegetables
Vegetables are such an important part of any paleo diet, but there are so many ways to prepare them, and it can get confusing to decipher which ways are best for retaining nutrients and flavor. When vegetables aren’t prepared and cooked in the proper way, they can lose their important vitamins and nutrients, which are so valuable to your paleo diet. Vegetables are full of valuable enzymes as well, which are not found in the processed foods of a typical diet, and these enzymes can be lost in an improper cooking environment.
Boiling is a particularly harmful way to prepare your delicious, fresh veggies. A 2007 British study found that when prepared by a boiling method, cruciferous vegetables, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, lost nearly 90 percent of their antioxidant content after the boiling process was complete. The same study found flavonoids and glucosinolates to also be greatly reduced during the boiling process. These are compounds found in particular vegetables that can reduce the risk of cancer.
Microwaving is also a form of preparing vegetables that can “zap” them of their valuable components, especially when the vegetables are placed into water before being microwaved. A Portuguese study found that broccoli lost anywhere from 74 to 97 percent of its super-healthy antioxidants when it was placed in water and then microwaved.
Below are tips for preserving the healthy qualities of your veggies during the preparation process:
- Cook vegetables for the shortest amount of time possible to ensure they are still tender and crispy and not limp.
- Steam or stir fry vegetables. Stir fry meals are also a great way to combine your protein and vegetables into the same easy-to-prepare meal.
- Cover vegetables when you’re cooking them in a pot, which helps prevent the nutrients from escaping along with the steam.
- Cook your vegetables whole and when their peelings when you’re able- many of the vitamins and nutrients found in vegetables are located in their peels or just below the surface level.
- Minimize waste and utilize the valuable nutrients that are found in the water used to cook vegetables to make soups, stews, and sauces.
- Cook your vegetables as close to the time you’ll be serving or eating them as possible
- Cooking vegetables on low heat settings can actually improve the nutritional value
The following are the worst things you can do to your vegetables in the cooking process, as far as nutrition goes:
- Cook them on very high temperatures
- Cook them for an extended period of time
- Soaking the vegetables before cooking them