5 Ways to Steam Vegetables to Retain Nutrients

by Livestrong Contributor

Steaming is the New Boiling

If you steam vegetables, you are choosing a healthy way to get your daily dose of vitamins. Dunking your veggies in a pot full of water and cooking them for hours doesn't make the cut anymore. Vegetables are sensitive to time, temperature and water. You can retain vegetable nutrients by steaming, an easy cooking method that will give you to the most your vegetables have to offer.

Quick and Easy

Buy an inexpensive collapsible metal or bamboo steamer to use when cooking your vegetables on the stove. Add about an inch of water to your pot, and place the vegetables in the steamer that sits in the water. That way, the boiling water never touches your food. Put a lid on the pot to avoid losing the nutrients and vitamins. If you still want to cook vegetables the old-fashioned way, boil them in as little water as possible and don't overcook. Vegetables should be crisp, not limp. Overcooking causes a drastic reduction in nutrients. When boiling, you should cover yellow, orange and red vegetables. Don't cover green and white ones. For steaming, you always need to cover the pot.

Living Large

Keep the vegetables as whole as possible for steaming. Although you can certainly cut down on your cooking time by cutting the vegetables in small pieces before steaming, but you lose much of the nutritional value. When you do cut vegetables, make sure you cut them evenly. That way, they'll all be ready at the same time

Zap Those Veggies

It's simple to microwave vegetables. Just add a small amount of water to your container, cover with a paper towel and cook on high until the veggies are done, but still crisp. Plastic microwave bags from the grocery store allow you to cook in a healthy way and save time and energy as well. They're easy to use and convenient, since they eliminate dishes. You can find microwave bags in the same section as the aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Follow the cooking instructions on the bag. It's a good idea to rotate the bag a couple of times during cooking, if your microwave doesn't have a turntable.

Fresh is Always Best

For healthy cooking, always buy fresh. Frozen vegetables are your next choice, as many nutrients are retained in flash freezing. You can also get great taste from frozen vegetables. Avoid cooking with canned vegetables, as they lose taste and healthy nutrients during the canning process.

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