1. Short “field to fork” time
Fruit and vegetables are alive on the plant and even after we have picked them. Before harvesting there is a natural flow of nutrients and degradation processes are quite slow and don’t really start till the veg is ripe. Once cut away, the nutrients are slowly consumed and, with help of other enzymes, the degradation starts. The speed of it will of course depend on temperature and how ripe the plant was but the general rule is: get them as fresh as possible and east them as soon as possible. Try to use local suppliers, so your meal does not have to travel across the world.This will help with getting more ripe, tasty and valuable product
2. Rinse not soak
Yes, we need to carefully wash the vegetables, but as a general rule it is better to rinse them than to soak them for a long time in water.
3. Cut them up as late as possible
When cutting a veg, a lot of different enzymes are activated which will lead to quicker degradation of the product. If possible keep the pieces bigger so ,especially when boiling, less stuff is washed out. Better not to buy pre-cut and not to chop and store in the fridge.
4. Cooking – different veg, different method
If we pushed for one word answer to what is the best vegetable cooking method to keep the nutritional value – that would be steaming. However because vegetables and legumes can be of very different nature, they will have their own best method:
- broccoli- steaming
- potatoes – boiling or roasting
- onion, garlic- sauteing
- peas- is pretty sturdy but does not like blanching: cooking and pressure cooking
- dry pulses such as beans – no surprise here boiling after soaking, preferably in fresh water
Boiling is the most traditional method. Unfortunately a lot of vitamins and minerals are water-soluble, which means that they will leak out. Apparently microwaving and short pressure cooking are pretty good at maintaining the nutritional value of the vegetable.
5. Keep them tasty
This might not seem a revelation but no matter how healthy a meal is, if we do not eat it, obviously we won’t get any benefit from it. If you do not trust me check with the kids 🙂 A lot of vegetable accepting small people will prefer a nicely looking, firm and green beans and broccoli, while the ones rejecting the whole healthy aspect of life will need to have everything blended and hidden. Even if a pumpkin or a cauliflower loses a bit of vitamin C because we roasted it a bit longer to our liking, it will still have more nutrients than the one… we have not eaten. A few drops of olive oil will help to absorb the fat soluble goodies.