Veggies, the food we love to hate!

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Growing up we’ve all been told over and over again “eat your vegetables, they are good for you!” yet they still remain one of the food components that we love to hate. Many of us are so traumatized by the mushy/overcooked vegetables served to us as a child that we now refuse to eat them altogether…But truth be told, mothers know best!

Vegetables are one of the most important component of the human diet. As stated by MyPlate.Gov, this fat-free, cholesterol-free food group helps reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases such as: obesity, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Due to the high amounts of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber present in this group, we are able to reduce our calorie intake without necessarily reducing the amount of food we have on our plate. The high nutrient density of vegetables enable us to feel full quicker and for a longer period of time then would process foods. And, they help reduce our food cravings throughout the day.

…Now mom may have been right about forcing us to eat our vegetables but perhaps she wasn’t an expert in the cooking department. No one wants to eat mushy overcooked vegetables so, I’ve come up with a few helpful tips to make them more appealing.

  1. Reduce the amount of water you use when cooking vegetables.
  2. Reduce cooking time.
All the excess water and long cooking time is the cause of your overcooked vegetables. So rather then dumping all your vegetables in a pot of water, I encourage you to try one of the methods listed below. They will ensure that your vegetables retain their nutrient composition while still having a bite.
Blanching:
Now I know many of you are probably thinking I’m crazy for asking you to blanch your vegetables when I just said to reduce the amount of water you use BUT although blanching requires a large pot of water, you’re not leaving your vegetables in there for too long.
  1. Bring your salted water to a boil.
  2. Take 1-2 handfuls of vegetables and place in the water. You don’t want to add too much at once otherwise you will drop the temperature of your water and you’ll end up with mushy veggies.
  3. Let the water come back up to a boil or until your vegetables becomes vibrant. It should take about 5-7ms depending on the vegetable. Size also plays an important role the smaller they are cut the quicker they will cook. Therefore, it is extremely important that you try to keep everything uniform–you want everything to cook evenly.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the pot and place them in ice water to stop the cooking process. This will help maintain that vibrant color AND your vegetables won’t get mushy.
Steaming:
Steaming is definitely one of the healthier cooking methods because you are not adding any fat/oil during the cooking process. Also, because there is no water contact, you have better nutrient retention.
  1. In a large pot place a small amount of water and let it come to a boil.
  2. Place the colander filled with vegetables on top of the boiling pot and cover it just enough so that some steam is able to escape. Remember, your vegetables should not be touching the water.
Grilling and Oven-roasting: 
These are great methods because very little fat is needed. I mostly just toss my vegetables with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt and some herbs and spices but, the type of marinade is up to you. Marinades are great because they enhance flavor without necessarily adding fat and this is because the oil from the marinade is not actually being absorbed in the cooking process (if proper technique is not used then fat may be absorbed). Now although fat is not being absorbed, your herbs and spices are so take that into account when making your marinade. You may want to try to make your own rather than buying a store brand for example because you are able to control the amount of sodium.
Comment below: How do you like to prepare you vegetables?
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