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Cooking to Boost your Veggie Nutrition

Veggies vs. Donut, I’m picking the donut in my mind all the time.  But in my heart and with my mouth, I choose the veggies, most of the time.  Whether you love vegetables or not, one thing is for sure, it’s the healthiest food group you can put in your mind.  BTW – I believe the new craze “Carnivore Diet” is a bunch of cow crap!   Anyway, if you’re gonna be force to eat them, you might as well get as much as you can out of them…so cook em right!

Q: I always thought Raw was better?

A: For some vegetables it is (brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli), but for most, cooking actually breaks down tough outer layers and the cellular structure making it easy for your body to break down and absorb. For example, studies found that cooked spinach and carrots resulted in higher levels of Vitamin A in the blood. In addition, as we age, we lose digestive enzyme activity or if we eat lots of process foods so any help is valuable. 

Q: What are the key determinants when cooking?

A: The cooking time, the temperature, and the amount of water or other medium you’re choosing.  It’s pretty simple, the more heat you use, for a longer period of time, the more “burning” of nutrients you’re going to get.  Vitamins, enzymes, minerals, whatever is in there, heat with duration is going to “kill” it. The water or medium is thrown in there because as you increase heat, things will leach out and go into whatever you’re cooking it in. If you end up throwing that out, like water, then you’re gonna lose those nutrients.  

Q: Steaming vs. Boiling?

A: Steaming for sure.  Boiling causes vitamins like C, B1, Folate, and other water soluble to leach into the water.  Researchers found that when cooking broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and carrots using 5 methods, steaming kept the highest level of nutrients. Steaming is more gentle, the veggies don’t come into contact with the boiling water. 

Q: How about microwaving? 

A: I personally don’t have any issue with it.  A microwave basically takes the water in whatever food and heats it.  But if you don’t have water inherently in the food, it won’t work as well, there is nothing to heat.  Some veggies work well, however cauliflower does not, there isn’t enough water and it has one of the highest nutrient losses in the microwave. 

Q: Grilling or Baking?

A: You’ll get lots of flavor, but not as much nutrition.  The heat is high in grilling and baking you have higher heat for a longer period of time.  But you get some intense flavor because how natural chemicals change in the food.  However, you can combat some of this by adding olive oil, which can increase the bioavailability of the nutrients when consumed, getting more out of it.  A Spanish study found that artichokes, asparagus, eggplant, green beans, and onions still had significant antioxidant capacity after baking.  

Q: What’s the BEST way?

A: The best way is with low heat, shortest time, and with the least amount of water.  I cook my veggies to help soften them up, that’s it.  I only use cooking as a way to make them easier for my digestive system (because when I have gone all raw, my stomach, after a few days, gets upset).  Here is what I do. I coat my pan with Grass-Fed Butter, I then throw my vegetables in with a little bit of water (which I do NOT throw out), I then cover it and put on low heat.  I wait until they are “just soft enough” and then I pull all of it out, including what is left of the water and mix it in what I’m eating.  Low heat, short time, little water, just enough to soften them…that’s the healthy secret!