How to Tell If You’re Overcooking Your Vegetables
Disliking vegetables is something you should grow out of as you grow up and learn to appreciate the goodness that comes with your greens. Unfortunately, not everyone has the magic touch in the kitchen — and sometimes it takes a skilled hand to turn raw vegetables into a delicious addition to your meal. In fact, one of the best ways to ruin your appetite for veggies is to overcook them. Even worse, your diet and health will suffer as a result.
Overcooking: Is It Really That Bad? There are plenty of reasons why you don’t want to overcook your vegetables. In their raw form, your veggies hold a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your body craves. In fact, it’s best for you to get your nutrition directly from the foods you eat, rather than from nutritional supplements and vitamin capsules. This is because all of the parts of what you’re eating — vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, phytochemicals, etc. — work together to promote health. A pill simply cannot replicate this.
And, as previously mentioned, overcooking can lead you to lose your appetite for vegetables. What draws you to vegetables that are impeccably prepared? Is it their bright colors? The crispy, crave-able texture? Unfortunately, you won’t be ooh-ing and aah-ing over overcooked veggies. They not only lose their visual appeal, but they get mushy and lose a lot of their natural flavor.
How You’re Doing It: Chances are if you’re overcooking your veggies, it’s because you’re boiling them. This is certainly one of the simplest ways to cook raw vegetables, but it’s difficult to do so without seriously compromising the quality of your greens. Have you ever heard of water-soluble vitamins? Your veggies contain boatloads of these, but as soon as you dip them into a pot of water — boiling or not — they seep away.
The ultra-hot water that you boil to cook your veggies can also damage their vitamins. Many vitamins have been proven to be heat-sensitive, losing their power over an open flame. This isn’t to say that you should eat every veggie raw, though — when cooked carefully, you can still retain plenty of vitamins and nutrients without sacrificing flavor.
How to Make It Right: Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the overcooked tunnel. By making a few small changes to your cooking style, you can enjoy your veggies again — or for the first time — and your body will, too.
Steaming your vegetables is an easy switch if you already have a trusty pot in which you previously boiled your food. Simply invest in a steaming basket that’ll sit over a pot of boiling water. The rising steam will cook your veggies to perfection without drawing any vitamins out. If you’re pressed for time, you can also find microwave-safe steamers that expedite the process. Either way, be sure to stick a fork into your vegetable-of-choice a touch before you expect them to be done. That way, you can check their texture and ensure that you take them off as soon as they’re ready — and not an overcooked minute after.
You’ll want to mix up the texture of your veggies occasionally, of course. Try tossing your green of choice in olive oil, spreading them over a baking sheet, and sprinkling sea salt over them before popping them into the oven. Roasting your vegetables gives them a crispy texture and robust flavor that you’re sure to crave. You could also try stir-frying them if you prefer your veg to have a little more crunch.
No matter which way you decide to cook your veggies, it’s imperative that you do so in cookware that’s safe for you and your family. The chemicals used to make your pots and pans non-stick, for example, could seep into the food that you cook.
In order to be sure that each meal you make is a healthy option for you and your loved ones, invest in a set that’s eco- and body-friendly. Your health and taste buds will be equally thankful for these swaps.
- Find more tips on good eating in Healthy Vegan Kitchen.