Vegetables And Vegetable Preparation

Are you preparing your vegetables for the best nutrition?

Vegatables deserve much better treatment and should have a special spot in the menu plan.

Vegetables supply many valuable vitamins and minerals necessary for your health. Some also add protein, carbohydrate, and fiber to your diet. Vegetables add variety to a meal. Modern farming methods and improved transportation over the years have provided us with a wide assortment of fresh vegetables all year round. Canned, dry, and frozen vegetables are always available, too. It is a good idea to plan to include at least four servings of vegetables in your food plan each day. Vegetables contribute a great deal to the joy of eating. They are colorful, nutritious, pleasant in texture, low in calories and taste good.

The stems and skins of vegetables are composed of cellulose, which contributes fiber, or roughage, to the diet. Fiber aids in the digestion and elimination of food. Potatoes, corn, winter squash, parsnip, yam, and fresh and dried peas and beans are some of the vegetables that supply you with carbohydrates as well as minerals and vitamins. Vitamins A and C are the main vitamins in vegetables. The fresher the vegetable, the more vitamins it contains. Dark-green and yellow vegetables are especially rich in vitamin A. These include broccoli, kale, spinach, parsnip, carrot, squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato or yam. Good sources of vitamin C are broccoli, green pepper, potato, brussels sprout, tomato, turnip, spinach, onion, cabbage, and cauliflower. Vegetables absorb calcium, phosphorus, iron, and iodine from the soil as they grow. When you eat vegetables you benefit from these minerals. Dark-green leafy vegetables and dried peas and beans are especially high in minerals. Dried peas, beans, and lentils are good sources of protein. These vegetables can substitute for meat or fish as the main dish at lunch or dinner. They are especially nutritious when combined with cheese and other dairy products or grains such as rice and pasta.

Potatoes are among the most important and economical of vegetables. They rank high as a source of energy, of iron, and of vitamin C. Both old and new potatoes have more sugar and less starch than average mature potatoes. Carrots vary in carotene depending on maturity, the very young "baby" carrots and old carrots having less than those in their prime. Raw turnips are a good source of vitamin c. The onion is very important because of the quality consumer and is a good source of vitamin C in the raw state. In the category of bulbs, roots, and tuber beets, carrots, onions, potatoes and turnips are some of the varieties.

Dry vegetables are also called legumes. They include many varieties of beans, peas, and lentils. Legumes are made from fresh vegetables that are allowed to stay in the field until they become mature and dry. Legumes are sold uncooked in boxes or packages as well as already cooked in cans. The uncooked variety should be stored in a cool, dry place in a jar or other container with a tight fitting lid. One advantage of canned vegetables is that they can be stored for a long time at home in addition they are convenient for use.

Dried, or dehydrated, vegetables are fresh vegetables that have been cleaned, cut up, and had the water in them removed. This category includes instant mashed potatoes, dried potatoes in sauces; onion, celery and parsley flakes; and dried mushrooms. Water must be added to reconstitute these vegetables.

Leafy vegetables have a high water content and an abundance of cellulose. The cellulose of vegetables is in a form that is not digested but which remains as residue in the digestive tract, promoting normal elimination. The leafy vegetables are low in energy value but rich in minerals and vitamins. Leaves, in general, are important sources of iron and of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, and ascorbic acid. Green leaves are one of the better vegetable sources of calcium.

Leafy vegetables include cabbage, lettuce, spinach and others. Leafy green vegetables are best when eaten right away. They still make good eating after they have been kept refrigerated for a few days.

The leaves of broccoli have four times as much calcium as the flower buds and twice as much vitamin A and riboflavin. Broccoli has been shown to be one of the most valuable of green vegetables. Vegetables that have flowers, buds and stems include asparagus and celery and others. Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C and a fairly good source of thiamin and riboflavin. Green asparagus is a good source of vitamin A.

Try to buy fresh vegetables when they are in season as they will be the most abundant and offer the best food and dollar value and for the best tasting. Fresh vegetables tend to lose quality and nutrition when they are picked. If you can buy locally or grow your own vegetables it is better than buying at the local grocery. A good variety of local, fresh vegetables are available in the spring, simmer, and autumn depending on the area. When you shop for fresh vegetables, buy only as much as you need. Fresh vegetables should be crisp and fresh looking. Be sure to look for bruises, holes in the skin, or wrinkles. The leaves should not be wilted or droopy. Vegetables should have no brown spots or signs of decay and the colors should be bright. Look for a correct shape and size as very large and misshapen vegetables usually do not taste as good. Judge vegetables by appearance and price, not by how they are grown.

There are many choices now for buying already frozen vegetables. They can be bought whole, sliced, or chopped. Some are even processed with sauces and special seasonings as well. There are also combinations of frozen vegetables available such as broccoli and cauliflower. All frozen vegetables have been blanched, or partially cooked before packing. That cuts down on your cooking time. When you buy frozen vegetables be sure the package is firm and solidly frozen. If the package is soft, the vegetables have started to defrost. Some nutritional value, texture, and flavor will be lost.

The storing of fresh vegetables is very important. Leafy green vegetables are best when eaten right away. They can be refrigerated if necessary but only for a few days. All vegetables should be washed thoroughly before cooking under cold water, then drained. There are several products on the market today for spraying or cleansing vegetables. Refrigerate green and yellow vegetables in plastic bags, covered plastic containers, or in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Onions, potatoes, yams, and other root vegetables should be stored in a cool, dark spot. Carrots, winter squash, turnips, eggplant, and similar vegetables can be stored either in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry spot.

Almost all fresh vegetables need some preparation before cooking. Vegetables can be cooked whole, halved, cut into slices or strips, and chopped. The smaller the pieces, the faster the vegetables will cook, but when very small some vitamins and minerals are lost. Wash all vegetables to remove dirt, using a brush to scrub vegetables with hard skins. Some vegetables need to be trimmed. Use a sharp knife to remove stems, ends, and rough spots. Use a vegetable parer or a sharp knife so that you remove only the skin as the important vitamins are just under the skin.

There are several cooking methods used for preparing vegetables such as boiling. The vegetable is placed in an amount of boiling water and cooked till it is tender. Cooking time for vary as to the vegetable you are cooking. Potatoes may take 30 minutes to boil till tender but spinach takes only about 3 minutes. Overcooking vegetables will not only make them too soft and unattractive but will affect the odor and flavor and much food value will be lost. Steaming is a way to retain nutrients and vitamins. You can use a rack, strainer or metal steam basket over a saucepan of boiling water, the cover the pan and let the steam escape and cook until the vegetables are tender crisp. Pan fried vegetables that are cut up can be cooked in a small amount of butter, margarine or oil in a covered skillet. A pressure cooker with water may be used to cook vegetables and this will vary with the vegetable. Sir frying is a nutritional way to cook vegetables in a wok or large skillet. Cut up vegetables can be deep fried with a batter. Whole and halved vegetables can be baked wrapped in aluminum foil, etc. Vegetables can also be baked in casseroles with other ingredients.

Many fresh vegetables can be eaten raw or served with various dips. Salads can be prepared with fresh vegetables. Sales can be prepared with any number of raw or fresh vegetables such as green pepper rings, wedges of tomato, etc.

Always be aware of the nutrients in vegetables, learn how to buy and store fresh, frozen, canned, and dry vegetables as they add to the joy of eating.

Trending Now

© High Speed Ventures 2011