Eat your veggies!! We all know how important it is to eat and serve vegetables to our family. It is recommended to eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. By purposely incorporating fruits with breakfast and snacks and adding a vegetable or two with lunch and supper, our daily quota can be met and our bodies gain needed nourishment for optimum health.
Once we decide to add more vegetables to the diet, there are ways to prepare them to make them more nutritous. Here in the south, we were raised on vegetables that were either deep fried in fat (fried okra, fried squash, fried green tomatoes, etc.) or cooked for hours (green beans, collard greens etc.). Both methods almost completely ddepleted the nutritional value of the vegetables.
Here are a few ways to keep the nutritional content at its peak when preparing vegetables.
Steaming: Steaming is fast, preserves nutrients, and it works best for fresh and frozen vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach and roots like beets, parsnips, peas and beans. Steaming baskets are very inexpensive. If you don’t have a steaming basket though, you can fill a pot with mixed vegetables and add about 1 1/2 inches of unsalted water and cover. I sprinkle salt, pepper or seasonings, small pat of butter or lemon and onion and garlic pieces over the vegetables for fantastic flavor. Simmer until the vegetables are fork tender. Check often to make sure that the water doesn’t evaporate. If it gets too low, just add a little more water. You can keep the remaining broth for soup. Put in the freezer for later use.
HERE is a chart with time guidelines for steaming vegetables.
Roasting: Roasting is quick, simple, and is an excellent way for cooking vegetables as it preserves the vitamins, flavors and minerals. In a large bowl, cover sliced vegetables with olive oil. Add garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Place them on a cookie sheet and roast them at 350 degrees until tender.
Stir Frying: Stir-frying is another very good flavor and color preserving cooking method. Sliced vegetables are put in frying pan covered at bottom with any liquid for cooking such as chicken broth or a broth made from stir-fry seasonings. Constantly stir the vegetables until they are crispy and glossy. To save time but still retain nutritional value, there are quick and easy frozen bags of stir fry vegetables in the local grocery store.
Panning: Vegetables can also be cooked by the steam produced by their own vegetable juices. In a fry pan, add a little olive oil, sliced vegetables and your favorite seasonings. Cover the pan, put it on medium heat, and within 5-8 minutes you’ll have spicy and crispy vegetables. Stir often. Panning works best for carrots, beans, summer squash and shredded cabbage.
Now, if you have a garden, you know that the produce comes in fast and needs to be dealt with quickly. Gardens are a lot of work and this is the purpose and blessing of all that work - fresh vegetables. Vegetables can be canned, frozen or dehydrated for preservation. A few websites which give a wide range of instruction for food preservation include:
Pick Your Own (For Canning)
How To Freeze Anything
Information from Graham Family Ministries newsletter. They also shared a free gift - A Planning Produce Sheet to help track garden bounty.