To Cook or Not to Cook?
By Lenny & Larry's. Posted on June 11, 2018.
Let’s admit it – cooking can be a tad tiresome. After an epic day, often the last thing on our minds is using the stove. Very often there is no need to cook always. We’ve put together for you a short guide to ease the burden and your energy bill!
Why cook at all?
Before men and women discovered fire, how did we cook? Well, in fact, we didn’t really. Many foodstuffs never needed cooking. Most can lose their nutritional value once they are cooked. Specifically, we need to know which of these veritable bounties of the food world benefit from cooking and which do not.
Many green vegetables can lose elements of nutrition. Spinach, for example, can lose Vitamin C and riboflavin when it is cooked. If you boil spinach then squeeze it, you will see trickles of green coloured water. All that water contains good stuff that you are missing out on.
Celery most definitely can be cooked but is much better for you eaten raw. This is particularly true if you are trying to lose a little weight, as celery makes your stomach work hard and contains very few calories. It is also an amazing way to keep hydrated. There is a flip side to this approach though.
Cooking matters when it comes to vegetables!
The key is to know which foods actually benefit from cooking. Some vegetables would be prepared to scream the house down if you put them near any source of heat. However, there are some forms of cooking which actually increase the level of nutrients that your body can absorb.
Case in point: tomatoes. Tomatoes are often eaten raw, which is perfectly fine. However, if you cook tomatoes at 190F for around thirty minutes you can unlock some nutritional goodies such as beneficial trans-lycopene and antioxidants. Otherwise, you would have kissed these nutrients goodbye had you just eaten the tomato raw.
The science behind cooking is simple. By exposing some vegetables to heat, you break down the cell structure of the vegetable. This then gives your stomach a nice head start when it comes to digesting said vegetables. Other vegetables that just love being cooked include mushrooms, asparagus, and cabbage.
I love my deep fat fryer!
Bottom line – avoid deep-frying any food unless you are aware of the nutrients that your temple of a body will be denied. The temperature of the oil used in a deep fryer destroys nearly all the good stuff as the heat is so fierce. Are we saying never fry any food again? As a treat, be our guest.
A good tip is to use a very light tempura batter (ignore people who put eggs in as the Japanese never do). The batter will coat your veggies in a sumptuous, silky glaze. The absence of eggs in the batter means the batter will be lighter, cook quicker and save money on hoarding eggs. Don’t worry if the batter appears lumpy, the less you mix it after the initial mix, the better! Using ice-cold carbonated water is advisable.
The batter protects the vegetables from the oil, preserving the crunch of the vegetable while cooking it slightly. With a little bit of TLC, your vegetables will shine (literally). It’s a great way to enjoy cooked vegetables but maintain the balance between flavor and nutrients. Leave your battered beauties in the oil for two minutes at most, being careful not to crowd the fryer. That means soggy batter, which is highly undesirable.
However, if you are looking to get the most from your meals then steam is your savior!
Full steam ahead!
Get liberated! Get steaming! Steaming vegetables is proven not only to preserve the intricate flavor of your food but unlock nutrients as well. You can buy a steamer practically anywhere now. You can also stack the steaming dishes, which takes up less room in your kitchen. A great perk is that when you are washing dishes, there’s no grease to speak of. A rinse with hot soapy water and the dishes are clean…the veritable pinnacle of ease!
Regardless of what we think about the raw versus cooked angle, one thing is clear. Variety is vital in terms of eating well and enjoying your food. Feel free to keep some food raw, cooking selected others by steaming, baking or on occasion frying them. Ultimately, as long as you are mixing and matching between raw, steamed and a little bit of fried, you will feel the benefit!