written by Aaron Strock, Dietetic Technician
You likely know that eating vegetables is an essential part of a healthy diet, which is true! Vegetables contain many important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients like fiber that promote our health. But what if you don’t like eating vegetables? Sometimes, all it takes is a change in how you cook them to make vegetables delicious. Here are some examples of ways to cook vegetables to improve their flavor.
Steaming is a quick and easy cooking method that will help improve the flavor and preserve the vitamins inside vegetables. This cooking method can bring out sweet and aromatic flavors in fresh veggies like carrots, snap peas, and green beans. You can steam vegetables in two easy ways that don’t require much time: on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Stovetop steaming requires a pot and a steamer basket. If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can try this creative method. First, get a medium pot and fill it with ½-inch of water. Second, make three golf ball-sized balls out of aluminum foil and place them in water.
Third, find a small heatproof plate that fits inside the pot without getting stuck, and that does not touch the sides of the pot. Set the burner to medium heat, rest the plate on top of the foil balls, place your chopped vegetables on the plate, cover the pot with the lid and let steam for 10 minutes.
When done, the vegetables should be tender and delicious. Alternatively, if you have a steamer basket, follow these same steps replace the part with the foil balls and the plate by placing the steamer basket in your pot with water
Microwave steaming is super easy. First, find a microwave-safe bowl and fill it with ½-inch of water. Then place your vegetables in the bowl with the water and cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate. Be sure to leave a small opening so some steam can escape. Set the microwave for three to five minutes. When done, the vegetables should be tender.
Roasting is another easy way to get a lot of flavor out of vegetables. When properly roasted, root vegetables such as carrots, beets, turnips, and potatoes can dramatically change in taste. Asparagus, zucchini, and eggplant can also become quite tasty when roasted. The key is to roast the vegetables until lightly browned; this caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables and gives them a deep and savory flavor.
How to properly roast vegetables: First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Second, wash and cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Third, add the veggies to a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and mix the vegetable until evenly coated with oil. You could also add dried herbs like tarragon and parsley to the vegetables for added flavor. Fourth, line a cookie sheet or casserole pan with foil or parchment paper and place vegetables evenly spaced on the pan.
Bake the vegetables for about 15-20 minutes. Keep in mind the smaller that you cut the vegetables, the shorter the cooking time. Once the vegetables have lightly browned, remove them from the oven and serve.
Grilling is not just for meats! Asparagus, corn on the cob, zucchini, romaine lettuce, and many others gain incredible flavor from the grill. Here are some tips on how to grill up some vegetables.
Cut the vegetables into long strips, so they don’t fall through the grate. Season them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little bit of paprika. Place them on the grill and wait until tender and slightly charred. You will notice a dramatic improvement in flavors.
If the vegetable is too tiny and falls through the grate, no problem! Wrap them in a foil pouch with the same seasoning. The foil pouch method is how you can grill things like peas, and yes, they are delicious. It is important to note that vegetables need significantly less time to cook than meats and poultry, so be vigilant.
You may be thinking, “What? You can grill romaine lettuce?” Yes, you can! But you should follow these specific instructions.
To properly grill romaine lettuce, you should first wash it thoroughly under cold running water. Then dry with a paper towel and cut the head of lettuce in half, longways, from top to bottom. Place the lettuce on the grill and let it get slightly charred on both sides. It is important to note that this process will be quick, so remain vigilant and turn lettuce often. When it is nice and charred, you can cut up the lettuce and add your favorite salad toppings or add it to a sandwich.
Always talk to your doctor and/or a dietitian about changes you plan to make to your diet. This is especially true if you live with multiple illnesses since not all foods are right for everyone.