02 October 2009
A useful function of vegetables in the diet is to be a source of carotene (which the body converts into vitamin A) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Most vegetables contain minerals as well as the B vitamins and fibre. To gain maximum benefit from the nutrients in most vegetables, avoid prolonged cooking or long soaking. The water soluble groups of vitamins may be lost or leached into the cooking water. However, lentils are the exception.
Pulse vegetables such as dried peas and beans differ from fresh vegetables in that they must be soaked and boiled before eating. They are also a useful source of protein and dietary fibre.
All vegetables should be washed thoroughly (especially spinach, which may need two or three lots of water), scrubbed where necessary, scraped or peeled and trimmed of bad, coarse or inedible parts. Cut into pieces if necessary before cooking.
Cooking Green Vegetables
1. Use as fresh as possible.
2. Cook for as little time as possible and serve immediately after cooking as excess heat destroys the ascorbic acid.
3 Use the cooking water for gravy, soup or sauce as this serves as a flavoured stock containing the nutrients lost through leaching.
Boiling method for root, bulb and stem vegetables
1. Put vegetables, whole or quartered into a saucepan, pour in boiling water not quite to cover them and add a little salt to taste.
2. Simmer gently in a covered pan until just tender.
3. Drain and keep water for use in gravy or soup.
Boiling method for green vegetables
1. Fill saucepan quarter full with boiling water and add a little salt.
2. Add vegetables, a handful at a time so that the water hardly goes off the boil.
3. When all vegetables are in the pan, cover with lid, boil steadily until stalks are tender.
4. Drain in a colander and keep water for gravy, sauce or soup.
5. Serve at once in a covered dish.