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Eat your Veggies! Simple Cooking Methods

Vegetables add colour, taste, texture and bulk to our daily diet. There are dozens of different vegetables that can be prepared in literally hundreds of ways. So what's best?

There is no best. The thing to do is to eat your vegetables, lots of them, everyday in a wide variety of ways and stop worrying about the preparation methods. Variety is the key...

Raw

Many vegetables taste fabulous just the way they are straight out of the garden. Lettuce, tomato, celery, cabbage, onion, radish, carrot are obvious choices here. But they are just as likely to find themselves next to chopped up broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans and zucchini on a starter platter with dips. Wash 'em, chop 'em and eat 'em. Oh, yeah, you could also make a salad!

Steamed

Steaming heats the vegetable and softens it's texture. It's gentler than boiling and allows the vegetable to maintain it's colour if not overdone. Use a stainless steel steamer that will fit into most good size sauce pans. Make sure you use a pan with a tight fitting lid. There should be enough water to just touch the bottom of the steamer. Water should be simmering the whole time the vegetables are being cooked.

Boiling

Boiling vegetables is really going out of fashion, but it's a legitimate preparation method! The big concern is loss of nutrients. All cooking methods result in the loss of some goodness from the vegetables. If boiling, try to find a way to use the water the vegetables have been boiled in (i.e. to make a gravy or sauce) to bring those nutrients back to the table. Vegetables should be barely covered with water. Bring the water to a boil (covered) then slow to a simmer until vegetables are tender.

Microwave

Very popular for vegetables as it retains colour, flavour and nutrients. Trial and error will be your guide with microwaving as there are plenty of variables involved. However, a few guidelines will help...The more food you put into the oven, the longer it will take to cook. Underestimate your cooking time rather than overestimate. Undercooked food can be cooked some more. Over-cooked food is ruined. Food straight from the fridge will take longer to cook than that at room temperature. All food continues to cook after it has been removed from the microwave oven. It is part of the cooking process and should be taken into account to prevent over-cooking.

Stir Fry

Very rapid method of quick frying vegetables, meat (optional) and sauces in one pan to make a meal. Primarily associated with Asian cooking. The key to doing this well is preparation. All items to be cooked should be chopped to a size that will allow them to cook quickly in the wok. It is also important that the wok is heated to a high, consistent temperature throughout. Vegetables maintain their colour and crispness with this sort of cooking (if not overdone).

Baking

Brilliant! Especially for those 'root' vegetables like potatoes, turnip, carrot and beetroot. Chop into similar size pieces, brush lightly with olive oil and put in a hot oven to roast. Size of the pieces will determine the cooking time but expect at least 40 minutes. Outside is chewy, inside is moist and fluffy. Dress with sour cream and chives. Yum!

Barbeque

Does anything scream summer like the word barbeque? Love a barbeque. This is primarily open flame cooking, so could apply to a campfire as well. Cooking outside just changes everything about food. You'll need foil, fire and fresh veggies. Grease your foil, chop your veggies and put the closed packages on the grill. Be adventurous, it's really hard to mess this up!

Judy Williams (http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com) splits her time between being a media executive and an earth mother goddess. No Dig Vegetable Gardens represents a clean, green way to grow your own food. The site covers all aspects of growing, cooking and preserving your harvest.

 



© Copyright 2006, Paul Sparks - Resources, Lesson Plans and Information for Teaching English Abroad