Best Vegetables For Steaming
If you want to retain comparatively more nutrients in your vegetables than using other ways of cooking, then a food steamer is ideal. Such nutrients are so easily nullified with regular boiling, so steaming can be a great option. You’ll get more vitamins and minerals into your system, which in turn will stave off colds and fatigue. You’ll also avoid the hassle of having to drain boiled water from a saucepan; simply remove from food steamer or food processor and they’re ready.
Which vegetables are steam-worthy?
Some vegetables benefit from being steamed more than others. More solid, sturdy vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, artichokes, green beans, and zucchini come out particularly well, in this regard; they tend not to break down and become too mushy. Others that come out well are leafy greens such as Chinese broccoli, baby bok choy, and spinach; they don’t take too long, either, which is ideal when you’re trying out a new Chinese or Thai recipe. Certain radishes and new potatoes are superb when steamed – if you want to speed things up, simply chop them up a bit rather than placing them in whole.
A steaming basket is a great and inexpensive investment; just fill your pot with around two ounces of water, place in the basket with the vegetables and boil the water (thus releasing steam) for around ten minutes. A lid must be placed on, to harness the benefits of all that steam. Depending on how soft you want your vegetables to be, either remove before or after that ten-minute window of time. It’s then a good idea to dunk your vegetables into a bowl of iced water; this should keep them at an optimum level of crunchiness. Yum!
Steaming can also be done using your microwave. Some vegetables come in specially microwavable packs, but even if you don’t have one of these then chopped vegetables in a microwavable bowl with water in the bottom should suffice, ensuring some shrink-wrap is covering the bowl. Part of the attraction of steaming is its healthy, nutrient-capturing results, so instead of adding calorie-rich toppings like butter, cheese or oil why not opt for a pinch of pepper or squidge of lemon or garlic. Crushed garlic and a small spoon of olive oil are also very healthy options.
What not to steam
Not all vegetables work so well when steamed. Here are some that are probably best not steamed, although it will sometimes come down to taste rather than health benefits:
Kale – Kale is reputed to have some wonderful antioxidant properties, as well as fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins A, B, and K. However, if steamed it can lose some of its cancer-fighting properties (isothiocyanates), so is best eaten raw, or perhaps chucked in your juicer with other ingredients to make a delicious power smoothie; it also goes well in mixed salads.
Broccoli – Another superfood, is rich in sulforaphane, a chemical that fights cancer by bringing detoxifying enzymes into action. While it can be very tasty when steamed, it is important to note that the benefits are reduced when it is steamed. So, too, are the levels of glucosinolates, potassium, and folate. If possible, eat raw. If you can get suitably healthy dips or homemade crushed garlic/olive oil dressing, it could be even more delicious.
Cauliflower – is actually from the same family as broccoli: Brassica. Steaming will reduce its cancer-fighting properties and nutrients, so it is best eaten raw or even crumbled into a Waldorf salad, with a healthy dressing.
Brussels Sprouts – Sprouts are great generators of potassium, folate, and vitamins; the levels of these wonderful properties are unfortunately lowered when they are excessively steamed, so if you can make them part of a delicious, healthy salad then so much the better for your health. You might consider frying them for under a minute, adding some garlic and herbs – this will give them that crunchy, appetizing taste but without the guilt of having stripped them of their original goodness.
Bell Peppers – When cooking bell peppers, heat will sap away 75% of their antioxidant strength, regardless of which method you use. They are one of the vegetables most sensitive to nutrient loss, so treat them with the respect they deserve and they will look after you!
Overall, less is more. Steaming is healthier than deep-frying in your frying pan, oven cooking, or boiling, but the shorter time you steam them the better for your health. When you also consider the time which has elapsed between the vegetables being picked and ending up on your plate, you’ll want to try and do all you can to retain their natural goodness. In terms of making organic, homemade sauces, dips, dressings, and condiments, you can make raw vegetables more of a treat than a punishment. Be creative, remembering that steaming vegetables for short amounts of time is better than most other ways of cooking them.