There’s a food movement afoot: eating well to look, feel and perform your very best is the buzz! These science-backed natural foods, when prepared in the right way, will boost your mood, energy and metabolism.
Here we will talk about preparation of 7 vegetables of choice in order to maximize their nutritional content.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a registered dietitian with a practice in Chicago, says, “Some produce is most nutritious uncooked, while other kinds need heat to bring out the best in them.”
From asparagus to tomatoes, here’s how to get the most from your farmers’ market picks:
1. Asparagus is best: Cooked
When you steam asparagus, the process ignites its cancer-fighting potential. Asparagus contains the compounds that have made broccoli and the other cruciferous vegetables cancer-fighting superstars. These are isothiocyanates, indoles, and sulforaphane. Each of these has anti-cancer properties and the ability to rejuvenate cells. But there’s more to it: asparagus has one of the highest concentrations of glutathione, one of the master antioxidants made in the body. As we begin to age, our ability to make glutathione needs to be bolstered by dietary intake.
This has to be one of the easiest ways to cook asparagus:
Just trim the ends of asparagus stems, lay out on a foil lined baking sheet, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parmesan, and then bake until done. I eat them like French fries. Are they addictive? Well, yes!
They are a perfect side to salmon, scallops, shrimp, or ham and delicious with eggs of any kind—poached, fried, or hard boiled.
2. Beets are best: Raw
Beets lose more than 25% of their folate when cooked. Eating them raw will preserve this brain compound. Beets are one of those veggies that inspire passion one way or the other—you either love them or loathe them. I have heard people say they think beets taste “like dirt.” Yeah, maybe if you don’t peel them before eating! I’m firmly in the “love them” category, and if you are, too, here are some tips for you:
- When beets are at their most flavorful, usually in late summer, they need no embellishment. Just serve them plain, sliced and served on a plate, or in salad.
- Dress warm-sliced beets in just a little lemon juice and agave nectar.
As mentioned above, raw beets are wonderful grated and tossed into salads or combined with other grated roots, as in Beet And Red Cabbage Slaw.
3. Broccoli is best: Raw
Heating broccoli deactivates their active component myrosinase, an enzyme in broccoli that helps cleanse the liver of carcinogens.
Here is a Raw Broccoli Salad Recipe for your summer relish:
- 3 cups of chopped broccoli
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 tbsp. of finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon juice
- ½ tsp of sea salt, or if you have it, flor de sal
1. Wash and finely chop the broccoli, several florets at a time. Include 1 garlic clove in the chopping. Chop for another minute and then add the second clove. Keep chopping until the broccoli is a similar size to that in the picture – ½ cm to 1cm pieces.
2. Place the broccoli into a large, non-reactive bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and then mix well with a metal spoon. Cover and let the broccoli sit in the fridge for an hour.
3. Serve with accompanying meal of chicken, seafood or on its own.
4. Mushrooms are best: Cooked
Heating mushrooms—whether you sauté, boil, grill or roast them—it brings out more muscle-building potassium.
Here is a Sautéed Mushroom s Recipe for you:
• 1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon margarine
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 1⁄2 lbs. fresh mushrooms, sliced
• 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
• garlic powder to taste)
• black pepper (to taste)
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large pan.
- Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add sliced mushrooms, stir to coat, and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Drizzle soy sauce into the mushrooms.
- Sprinkle with garlic powder and black pepper.
- Continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until desired doneness is achieved.
- Remove from pan and serve.
- Onions are best: Raw
Just slice and eat: You get less of the hunger-busting phytonutrient allicin when you cook onions.
5. Red peppers are best: Raw
You must go “raw-tarian” with these peppers because their vitamin C breaks down when they are roasted, fried or grilled above 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here is a raw-red-pepper-soup-recipe for you:
- 1 cup roughly chopped red bell peppers (approx. 1 medium pepper)
- 1⁄3 cup cashews
- 1⁄3 cup water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup more diced red bell pepper (reserve – do not blend)
• Throw all ingredients (except last ½ cup of red peppers) in a high-speed blender and blend up ’til nice and smooth and well mixed’. You can let this raw red bell pepper soup recipe blend in the Vitamix or Blendtec blender for a little extra time so that the heat of the blades and the friction actually warm up this delicious, creamy raw red bell pepper soup recipe.
• Transfer raw red pepper soup into a bowl. Add the remaining ½cup of diced red peppers and mix gently with a spoon.
• Garnish with whatever you like! I simply sprinkled my soup with some dried basil. Eat immediately!
6. Spinach is best: Cooked
Have it cooked and you will absorb more iron, calcium and magnesium from it.
Here is a Quick-and-Easy-Sautéed Spinach Recipe you can cook from scratch:
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (10 ounce) bag spinach leaves
- 1 head of garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach to the skillet and cover. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic salt and cover again for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.
7. Tomatoes are best: Cooked
Surprise: When you eat tomato fruit cooked, your body absorbs more of its cancer-fighting lycopene.
Slow-cooked tomatoes recipe
• 6 medium-sized vine tomatoes
• 2 garlic cloves
• thyme or rosemary leaves
• sherry vinegar
• balsamic vinegar
• olive oil
They can be made up to 2 days ahead. Halve the tomatoes width-ways and place, cut-side up, in a roasting pan. Peel the garlic cloves and slice very thinly into slivers. Put a sliver on each tomato, season and scatter thyme or rosemary leaves over them. Sprinkle each with sherry vinegar, then with balsamic vinegar and finally with olive oil. Bake for 2-3 hours until soft and slightly shriveled. Remove and cool.