Eat for Our Health |20 May 2022
Have fun with different styles of cooking
While you're still busy exploring the world of plants with our tips of last week, we're dropping in with some advice about various cooking styles.
That will introduce more variety in your cooking, and will also make you more adventurous.
You may have heard about the chemistry of cooking and how different substances in food react differently to varying degrees of heat of either the cooking surface or water or oil.
Well, part of the fun of eating predominantly plant-based lies in just that.
You have a choice between grilling, steaming, boiling, broiling, stir-frying, and sometimes raw, so as to get the best from your health-giving vegetables and fruits.
Have fun experimenting with tastes
And don't forget that nothing stops you from introducing some fruits into what is generally considered as only vegetable territory.
Grilled fruits such as apples, pineapples and pears for example go well in a grilled vegetables salad, while all manner of vegetables add extra fibre in a fruit smoothie.
A common trick of great chefs is to confuse the eater’s palate with an unusual and sometimes odd mélange of sweet and sour and hot – a slice of grilled ripe pumpkin with a honey-chilli drizzle comes to mind.
Do not overcook
Some of you are old enough to remember how our parents or grandparents used to overcook Chinese cabbage (Bred Soudsin) and Moringa (Bred Mouroum) until they came out almost green-black.
This way of cooking decimated the nutrients and we have now learnt that such delicate spinach retain their goodness better with flash cooking.
The general rule with vegetables is not to overcook them. So if you're going to add them to lentils or a curry or a soup, do this towards the end of the cooking time.
Broccoli and cauliflower for example – two of the stars of the plant food world – are two vegetables that do best steamed rather than boiled.
Peels and scraps are nutritious
And don't forget not to throw away their hard thick stalks. They contain a lot of nutrients and should be saved for soups, smoothies or stir-fries.
You may wish to consider having a small container in your fridge in which you keep scraps like peels of onion, garlic, ginger, pumpkin, and carrots, for use in vegetable stock, for they are full of flavour and nutrients.
By the same token, don't throw away your papaya seeds. Those of the ripe fruit can be eaten with the fruit, and those from the green fruit can be dried and blended into smoothies. Limit papaya seeds to not more than one teaspoon per day.
Best for steaming
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, artichokes, zucchini and green beans are great choices because they're sturdier and won't turn to mush too easily.
Leafy greens – baby bok choy, spinach and Chinese broccoli – also steam up nicely but take less time.
Vegetables as snacks
Whether served raw or lightly cooked, these vegetables are among those you can start encouraging your children to have as healthy snacks:
- Bell peppers
They can be enjoyed plain or with either hummus or a peanut butter dip.
The flavours of most vegetables are enhanced after a short time under the grill and then dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon, and, wait for it, a generous sprinkle of roasted cumin.
If you're new to grilling vegetables, try a first batch with carrots, aubergine, onions, apples, and zucchini.
Two signature dishes to get you started
To get you on your way to being a little more adventurous with raw food, check out these two classics from the Mediterranean & Middle Eastern region.
Muhamara is a classic Middle Eastern blend of roasted red capsicum and walnuts, with extra virgin olive oil and herbs.
Tzatziki is a delightfully refreshing signature Greek dish in which freshly grated cucumber is mixed with garlic, plain yoghurt, and lemon juice.
We trust that with these tips you'll be heading into your kitchen more confidently to give your vegetables some tender loving care.
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Yours in health
The E4OH Team