5 Delicious Healthy Ways to Enjoy Vegetables.
More than one way to enjoy vegetables
Eating vegetables has many health benefits, from preventing cardiovascular diseases to promoting healthy skin and teeth. They make smart food choices when it comes to losing weight as they carry bulk with few calories and they generally low in fat content. You’ve probably heard about their high fiber content too. Obesity researcher, Joanne Slavin at the University of Minnesota, says that fiber can induce satiety and slow digestion, which helps you stay full longer, which in turn can help your weight loss efforts.
But that’s not all. Vegetables are powerful storehouses of vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants and minerals. According the United States Department of Agriculture eating vegetables (fruits are also tied to this category) can reduce risks of strokes, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancer, decrease bone loss and reduce risk of developing kidney stones. The benefits of eating vegetables are too many to ignore. But you’re not eating enough vegetables for some reasons.
What are your reasons for not eating vegetables or enough of them?
Healthy Cooking can be a snap.
Healthy cooking doesn't mean that you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in expensive cookware. You can use basic cooking techniques to prepare food in healthy ways.
As part of a special TODAY series titled Jamie Oliver’s Cooking School, the hot British chef is back to share some simple and delicious dishes that use seasonal ingredients from his new book “Jamie at Home, Cook Your Way to the Good Life.” Today, it’s all about leeks, winter root vegetables and more.
Whatever your reason, it pays to include vegetables in your diet. Vegetables are terribly versatile and they fare well in all kinds of preparation (by that token, they are wonderfully forgiving too). You don’t have to be a fancy cook or have a lot of time to enjoy vegetables. Here are 5 totally healthy and delicious ways of enjoying vegetables.
If you can cut, chop, tear, mix and drizzle, you can make a salad.. Even if you can’t or can’t find the time, you can always grab a bag of ready to go salad—they’re air-dried and supposedly clean and ready to use and all you have to do is select your favorite kinds when you visit the grocery stall. But if you like to make your own combination of vegetables for salad, it’s as easy as choosing the vegetables and then prepping them. One good rule to remember when choosing vegetables—include a wide selection of colorful vegetables to gain a wide spectrum of nutrients.
The temptation is to drizzle store-bought dressing and dig in. While this is acceptable now and then, store-bought salad dressings can be high in sugar and saturated fats. According to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, 50 percent of the sugar we eat comes from “fat-free” salad dressings and young women get half their daily calories from salad dressing.
The healthier alternative is to make your own salad dressing and you don’t have to Jamie Oliver (my favorite TV chef) to fix a healthy dressing. Healthy oils reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol while vinegar is a fat-buster. Here’s a simple no-fuss basic salad dressings you can whip up in no time:
- Healthy oils (such as olive, canola, sesame, grapeseed oils)
- Vinegar (balsamic, white or red wine vinegar, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar)
- Optional: Herbs (fresh chopped herbs or dried) or spices
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Add oil and vinegar to a bowl. The ratio of oil to vinegar is about 1:3. Then add herbs or spices and salt and pepper and whisk together. Add to salad, toss and enjoy.
Many ways to slice and dice.
How to Steam Vegetables
Steaming vegetables is a great and viable option to produce hassle-free quick dishes without losing its color, texture or nutrients. With a few steaming implements, you can get really good at this and steam any number of vegetables to complement any dish. What are they, you may ask? You can easily purchase an electric steamer, or just a steaming rack that can fit into a pot or wok, a colander or bamboo steamer. If you love improvising, just innovate by crushing aluminum foil into balls and placing them at the bottom of your pot to prop up your dish of vegetables for steaming. If you’re too busy or tired to bother, use the microwave. Simply put some moist paper towels over your vegetables and hit the cook button. The grocery stores also carry microwave bags for steaming such as Zip n Steam (Glad has a version too). They even carry vegetables in pouches ready for you to pop into the microwave. Little fuss--great nutritional result.
Steaming is part of the adventure. Playing with different ways to eat steam vegetables is another. You can flavor them with your favorite seasonings or toss them in a bowl with different kinds of dressings. Add them to pasta, soups, wraps-- the possibilities are promising. Eat them like finger foods—they are that versatile .
Kitchen aid for steaming
Stir-fry, the Asian Way
I grew up eating stir-fry at almost every meal, so naturally I eat a lot of stir-fry even now. The idea is to sautee the vegetables in high heat to bring out the flavor without destroying the nutrients. Stir-fry should be quick, no more than 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the vegetables. You can stir-fry almost any vegetables. Tender, leafy vegetables require less time than vegetables with firmer texture like cabbage or daikon.
A basic method is to heat up some healthy oils. In Asian stir-fry, sesame oil is preferred. Of course, you can use canola, peanut oil too. Olive oil breaks down in extreme heat, so that may not be a good choice for stir-fry. Add vegetable and mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Asian stir-fries usually have some oyster sauce or soya sauce/fish sauce added as well.
Nutritional Value of Salsa
Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce and it invariably consists of chilies, tomatoes and spices. You can trace the history of Salsa back to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. The Spaniards encountered tomatoes after conquering Mexico from 1519 to 1521, which consequently marked the beginning of history of salsa. Aztec lords have long use a combination of tomatoes, chilies, ground squash seeds and other spices to make a sauce condiment to compliment their meat dishes like turkey, venison, lobster and fish.
Vegetables can be added to Smoothies
Sauces and Condiments
If you have picky eaters or small kids who think they are allergic to vegetables, sauces and condiments are a great way to sneak nutrition into their diet without them knowing it. Make spaghetti or pesto sauce with fresh vegetables and herbs and use these basic sauces to assemble pasta dishes, casseroles or to add flavor to wraps, burritos, tacos and your fussy eaters may not even know it. Or do they but it is so delicious, they choose not to complain?
How about salsa? It’s a great way to chop a bunch of fresh vegetables and fruits together to make a dip for chips or to spice up your tacos. By that same token, vegetable-based condiment can be made to complement your main dish.
Don’t feel like working too hard to prepare your vegetables or too tired to crunch on that celery stick? Why not juice the vegetables? Pair them with some fruits and you have yourself a tasty beverage, complete with all the goodness of vegetables without tasting too much like you’re eating wheat grass. You may miss out on the fiber when you juice, so be sure to not use this method to replace eating vegetables regularly.
Just make sure you have a juicer or blender in your house—the only instruction you will need for this segment.