Vegetables pack a nutritional punch. Green vegetables, such as broccoli, romaine, spinach and kale, are particularly good sources of fiber, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, C and K. In addition, many greens contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthanin, which contribute to healthy vision and may protect against cancer.
When you cook these vegetables, though, some nutrients are lost. The best way to retain their health benefits is to cook them over a low temperature for the shortest time possible until they’re tender yet still crisp with vivid color. Try these serving methods to enhance your greens’ flavor and keep their nutrients:
- Enjoy veggies raw. Wash thoroughly to remove dirt and pesticide residue. Leave edible peels on vegetables like cucumbers and zucchini, using a scrub brush to clean them.
- Steam them. Quick-cooking methods like steaming or using the microwave allows you to use very little cooking liquid. Steam vegetables like broccoli in a basket over simmering water or microwave with a splash of vegetable stock or broth.
- Stir-fry. Cut up vegetables like snow peas, green beans and broccoli and use a small amount of vegetable stock, wine or a cooking oil with no more than two grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, like canola, olive and soybean oils. Steer clear of high-sodium seasonings like teriyaki and soy sauce.
- Sauté with sizzle. A good nonstick pan requires little or no oil. Try a nonstick vegetable oil spray, a small amount of broth or wine or rub a bit of cooking oil into the pan with a paper towel. And don’t forget, leafy greens aren’t just for salads. Sauté spinach, escarole or arugula until wilted.
- Grill to thrill. Cut vegetables like zucchini and asparagus into large chunks or half-inch strips. Baste with a light salad dressing, fresh fruit juice or broth or brush with canola or olive oil. Place directly on the grill or skewer onto sticks until lightly browned and tender.
- Try a tasty topper. Skip the butter and salt. Add flavor with cracked black pepper, sesame seeds, sliced almonds, pine nuts, fresh herbs like chives or basil, a splash of vinaigrette or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.