What To Do With Vegetables
Embrace the possibilities!
Vegetables. The word evokes confusion, misery, and poor taste to many. Yet, it is suggested that we eat them ALL THE TIME! That’s because they provide so many health benefits. Vegetables play a vital role in life-long health. They provide an array of vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal training and exercise, prevent disease, promote mental well-being and provide essential micronutrients important to the gut microbiome. However, most people are completely lost when it comes to preparing vegetables in a tasty manner.
It is time to move past the raw veggie platter! There are over 20 different types of vegetables at any given grocery store. So start moving out of your ‘vegetable box’ and use some of the ideas below to eat old veggies in a new way or try a new veggie.
Roasting involves putting vegetables in the oven at a high temperature to cook. This method of cooking results in the vegetables losing their water content; hence they tend to be sweeter and more concentrated in flavor. This is good for all veggies, from soft veggies including broccoli and mushrooms to hard veggies such as potatoes, squash, and carrots. Some helpful roasting tips:
- Clean and scrub all vegetables
- Cut hard veggies into small bite-size pieces to allow for a quicker, more even cooking time
- The ideal roasting temperature is around 425 degrees.
- Soft veggies will take 20-30 minutes to cook
- Hard veggies will take 30-40 minutes to cook
Toss any veggies in some olive oil and salt and pepper before roasting.
Once cooked, add additional seasonings or drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinegar.
Sauteing involves cooking veggies over low heat with oil or, ideally, butter. You can walk away from the stove to allow veggies to saute for a few minutes.
Types of vegetables: all
Cut: uniform pieces for even cooking time
Stir-frying involves cooking vegetables over high heat in a wok or fry pan.
Types of vegetables: all
Cut: small uniform pieces for even cooking time
If combining hard and soft veggies, you may need to cook the hard vegetables for a few minutes before adding soft vegetables to the pan.
Don’t overload the pan; the result will be soft and mushy vegetables. Instead, it is better to cook in small batches for even, crisp cooking time.
After roasting, this is a favorite way to cook vegetables. However, there are a few more guidelines to follow to get the best vegetables from your grill:
For small veggies, use a grill basket to prevent them from falling through the grate.
For hard veggies, it is best to par-cook them so they are slightly cooked before grilling. This drastically decreases cook time on the grill, and you still get that smoky, grilled taste.
The grill should be around 400 degrees F.
Heat grill to hot and then clean off grates with a wire brush.
Toss veggies in a marinade of your choice or with some oil and salt and pepper before cooking
Soft veggies will be done in about 5-10 minutes
Hard veggies will take about 15-20 minutes if par-cooked
Below is an excellent website for some good grilling recipes.
Steaming veggies involves putting them in a stainless steel vegetable basket inserted in a stainless steel pot with 2-3 inches of water in its bottom. To pump up the flavor of steamed veggies, add flavoring to the water, such as a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, lime peel, or orange slices. Other tips:
Lay some fresh herbs over veggies while cooking
Add minced garlic or ginger to veggies
Coat vegetables in oil and salt and pepper to lock in some flavor while cooking.
Place steamer basket in pot and heat water to boiling. When boiling, put veggies in the steamer basket.
Cover pot with lid for quicker cooking
Cook time is about 5 minutes for soft veggies and 10 minutes for hard veggies. Stop cooking for about 2 minutes before being done to prevent overcooking the veggies and making them mushy.
As you can see, there is a multitude of ways to cook vegetables. Vegetables no longer have to evoke confusion or fear of cooking. They are a great addition to any meal, breakfast, lunch, or dinner and can be done quickly. To make it even easier, many stores now have various vegetables available pre-cut and ready to cook. Don’t be afraid to try new seasonings and spices on your vegetables.