Vegetables Steaming is the best option for preparing vegetables is to eat them raw, especially if one wants to enjoy everything that Nature put into them. However, there are a number of reasons for why you might not want to serve vegetables raw:
Some vegetables cannot be consumed raw.
These vegetables include mostly tubers like potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips. Carrots are also tubers, but they can be consumed and enjoyed raw. Other vegetables that are generally not eaten raw are legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas. A third category of vegetables – these are often eaten raw, but are more easily digested when they are cooked, even lightly, owing to their high cellulose content – is the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage and cauliflower.
While it might be perfectly acceptable to consume a wide variety of raw salads in spring or summer, once the days become colder and winter draws nearer, one’s natural inclination is to prepare food that is warm, i.e. cooked.
Cooking methods for vegetables differ widely and yield very different results.
Often one’s decision with regard to a method of cooking will depend on the nature of the vegetable to be cooked, but by the same token, cooking methods are often determined by personal choice with regard to how one enjoys eating one’s food. Some people prefer eating their vegetables in a near to raw state, while others enjoy cooking vegetables to an absolute pulp.
Sadly, ignorance about what overcooking can do to the nutrients in food has led to vegetable dishes being served which have absolutely no nutritional value. This is particularly the case when vegetables are boiled during preparation. Heat destroys nutrients and the water soluble vitamins which are contained in vegetables are soonest destroyed by boiling.
Other cooking options
Techniques which do not immerse food in water and therefore do not have the same ruinous effect on the nutrients, include microwave cooking, poaching and steaming. Such methods of cooking will also retain the fresh vegetable taste which is so important. If one must boil vegetables, it is important not to overcook them. Use very little water to do the boiling and then preserve the water to use again in the preparation of any sauces, so that the nutrients are essentially maintained.
The fact that steaming is a relatively gentle way of cooking means that the colour, flavour and texture of the vegetables is maintained. Most importantly, the nutritional value of the food is not destroyed or diminished. It is also a very simple process.
While there have been many developments in the area of steaming – and electric steamers have been manufactured with multiple layers to enable an entire meal to be cooked at the same time, all one actually needs is a pot of water and a steaming basket, which can be made of plastic or of a non-corrosive metal.
So how does one do it?
It’s very simple. Ensure that the water is boiling before you add the vegetables to the steamer basket. The bottom of the steamer should not be in contact with the boiling water. Cover the vegetables and cook, ensuring that you add more boiling water when it becomes necessary.
The results are amazing! You will enjoy beautifully fresh and delicious vegetables which can be a meal in themselves. Best results are achieved if the pieces to be steamed are not great big chunks. A final caution: don’t go adding calorie-laden sauces to your vegetables as this is contrary to the reason for steaming in the first place – good health.