You are probably familiar with the 2&5 campaign which was being pushed by the Australian government a few years ago. The message to boost our daily fruit and vegetable intake was simple…just eat at least two pieces of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day for better health. Unfortunately, this message didn’t quite have the desired effect because when the CSIRO conducted a recent survey they found that only 24% of women and 15% of men were meeting their recommended daily vegetable requirements.
Keeping up with your daily veggie consumption can be difficult…if not a little boring. Did you know the way you cook your vegetables is almost as important as how many serves you are eating?
Read on to find out the best way to cook your veg, the answers may just surprise you!
TIP: Check out our autumn special for additional assistance in meal preparation and planning.
When you cook your vegetables, the method you use could be depleting them of essential nutrients. One good way to retain their goodness is by steaming. Most vegetables don’t like to get too hot in the kitchen, which means harshly boiling them should be a last resort.
The microwave may have a bad reputation but in reality, it is one of the better ways to cook your produce as the time they are subjected to heat is much shorter. Each vegetable group is slightly different, for example, some plants are more nutritious when they are raw, while some are better with the skin left on:
Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Broccoli
Vegetables which fall into this category are packed with vitamin C, iron, calcium, fibre, antioxidants and selenium. These can potentially be eaten raw, but try steaming for a short period of time, steam in the microwave or lightly stir fry with other ingredients for a dinner option which never gets dull!
Spinach, Kale, and Silverbeet
Leafy vegetables include vitamins A, C and E, calcium, folate, and iron. It is no wonder Popeye was such a fan! Some of these can be used fresh such as spinach and lettuce in salads, which suits the warmer months.
The best way to cook leafy greens is by stir-frying quickly, making sure they don’t lose their lush green shade.
Potato and Sweet Potato
For additional fibre, leave the skin on potatoes when cooking. Potatoes come with vitamin C, and packed with potassium.
The best way to cook these is by steaming, but you can also pop them in the microwave or bake in the oven. If choosing to bake your potato or making potato mash, try to avoid excessive butter, oil and salt.
Carrots and Beetroots
These colourful foodies are flavoursome and come complete with beta carotene, vitamin C and fibre. Start by steaming and finish by mashing or pureeing.
Of course, raw carrot sticks are a healthy snack idea!
One of the best ways to cook capsicum is by lightly grilling, or gently adding to a stir fry. Available in a variety of colours with red, green and yellow these create a rainbow on your plate.
Capsicums come with vitamin C and fibre and work well in salads without any need for cooking. Lightly grilling large portions of capsicums will enhance the flavour but be conscious of any additions. Retaining a little bit of the crunch is the key!
Peas and Beans
Peas and beans are full of vitamin A and C, fibre and carotenoids. If they are fresh, they can be eaten raw but always gently cook the frozen variety.
If you are short of time frozen vegetables are just as nutritious, just make sure you steam for just a few minutes to keep those nutrients on your plate. Once again, these can be lightly stir fried, keeping in mind they need to retain their bright green hue.
Zucchini is big in folate, fibre and beta carotene. A quick steam is enough to make these more palatable while keeping the flavour and nutritional content.
If you’re not a fan of steamed zucchini another option is to grate them into your bakes, slices or salads. You can even try creating zoodles as a noodle substitute and combine with other vegetables in a stir fry.
TIP: Vitamin C helps our bodies absorb iron from the food we eat, so squeeze some fresh lemon juice over your leafy greens!
Please contact us today for assistance in meeting your nutritional goals. Our trained dietitians are available to create a personalised lifestyle plan which suits you.