“Only one in ten adults meet federal vegetable recommendations,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in one of its Weekly reports on morbidity and mortality. “As a result, we are missing out on essential vitamins, minerals and fiber,” noted the study’s lead author, adding: “This suggests [you] are at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.”
Are you one of the 90% not getting enough vegetables in your diet? Is it something you want to change? Then the tips from these professionals on how to store and prepare vegetables can be your resource for healthier eating now and all year round. (A companion article in two weeks will focus on fruits and outdoor cooking.) Wellness design can support your healthy diet goals.
mom was right
“Eat your veggies” was a meal order that millions of American children grew up hearing. It was also sound advice, according to registered dietitian and fitness chain Life Time’s weight loss program director, Anika Christ. “Produce naturally provides some of the best sources of essential nutrients (fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients) that are responsible for so many metabolic processes in the body,” she points out.
Most customers are aware of its importance, she believes, but need help finding ways to include them in their meal planning and how best to prepare them. Otherwise, these well-intentioned purchases often spoil before being cooked or eaten. Add to that outdated, underperforming appliances and thousands of dollars and power options are potentially wasted.
Optimize product preparation
If you’re not careful, nutrients can be lost when cleaning and preparing produce, notes Christ. “For soaking, you’ll want to stick to leafy greens, while more porous vegetables like carrots or celery you’ll want to rinse instead. I also like to encourage my clients to keep the skin on whenever possible,” noting the extra nutrition and fibers from cucumbers and carrots in particular.
A hands-free kitchen faucet and professional sink with accessories can make the preparation of products easier and more convenient. The hands-free function means you won’t be spreading foodborne illnesses from raw meats to produce, or seasonal viruses between family members.
Pro-Inspired Space Planning
When it comes to decorating kitchen spaces, professional chef, appliance trainer and regenerative food entrepreneur Bridget Bueche takes inspiration from what she calls the logic of a commercial kitchen: receiving ingredient areas, prep space, cooking functions, storage capacity for ingredients and tools, plus a clearing area all in sequential order.
“I love vegetable prep centers because they consider space to clean, prep and cook.” They can be designed in a kitchen – possibly on an island opposite the refrigerator, or equipped with refrigerator drawers – for all the functions she mentions and for storing cookware such as small appliances, pots, pans, cutting boards and utensils as close as possible to where they are. will be used. (You can also plan your storage spaces for left- or right-handed use, depending on your needs.)
For those who will be spending long hours in the kitchen, Bueche suggests quilted mats. Low-maintenance countertops such as porcelain slabs, engineered stone, or hybrids will also make your cooking experience easier, as you’ll have less to worry about if your products leak on them and you don’t notice it as quickly.
Improving product preservation
One question people often have is where to keep fruits and vegetables in their kitchens? Bueche responds with chef-level insights for the most popular purchases. “I would say there are several important things that ‘don’t refrigerate’: potatoes, garlic, onions and shallots prefer some movement of air (baskets, cloth bag) in cool, but dark and dry storage.” That means pantry or cupboard storage, and putting that spot close to your fridge in a “food storage zone” makes meal preparation easier.
“Tomatoes ripen best on a counter and are eaten right away,” she advises. Your refrigerator is great for members of the cruciferous/Brassicaceae family, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, Bueche says. Brussels sprouts and green leafy vegetables also like to be chilled with a touch of moisture to keep them vibrant and crunchy, she adds.
“New refrigeration columns or units come with separate bins with controls for humidity and temperature,” notes Bueche, who also works as an appliance trainer for showrooms and manufacturers. “This is optimal for the longer life of your organic products.” The luxury brands offer air purification and removal of gases and contaminants, creating a fresher compartment. Some manufacturers offer blue light technology for preservation, she adds.
Owner and blogger of the appliance chain, Steve Sheinkopf of Yale Appliance in the Boston area, agrees. “The two compressor or evaporator systems are better. Blue lighting in the refrigerator mimics sunlight, so vegetables continue photosynthesis and last longer,” he explains.
Tips for cooking products
“Every cooking method has its ups and downs,” notes dietitian Christ. “Some may cause a loss of minerals or water-soluble vitamins (e.g. cooking), while other methods (e.g. microwave) [decrease] antioxidants in some foods (e.g. cauliflower), but not in others (e.g. peppers).” Her approach, she says, is to determine which cooking method works best for each individual and to suggest vegetables that are best prepared that way.
Christ often recommends steaming foods as it can reduce GI issues that come with some products like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, then recommends adding healthy fat and sea salt to make the results more flavorful. Roasting is another cooking method preferred by the dietitian: “I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to enhance flavor and intake.” Vegetables can also be eaten raw as a snack or combined for fresh salads.
“Combination ovens have been at the top of my vegetable prep list for over 20 years,” Bueche says of the hybrid steam convection appliances. “The combination of wet and dry heat produces the most amazingly tender and crispy results, even browning.” She also likes counter-installed steamers for vegetable prep centers. “These can be used to blanch, steam, and sous-vide in one appliance,” she says.
Sheinkopf is also a fan of combi-steam and sous-vide, he says, touting the potential of smart home technology. “WiFi functionality will be a good idea in a few years if it can really help beyond the basic functions.” Some brands help aspiring home cooks learn how to best prepare their ingredients.
Essential for your kitchen is a good, well-installed cooking ventilation unit. “I think venting is so important, especially with stir-frying, wok cooking, grilling and grilling food,” says the appliance pro. Some of the latest models synchronize with accompanying hob elements to adapt to the speed and intensity needed.
Specialized countertop appliances can also be a hallmark of a vegetable prep center, the chef says. “Having a food processor for basting, slicing, grating, grating, chopping and pureeing is irreplaceable. A sous-vide circulator and cryo-vac machines are also great machines for cooking, storing, and reheating vegetables,” she says. Two other items Bueche likes for a prep center are an induction burner and composter for anyone growing their own vegetable gardens.
Bottom line, as nutrition pro Christ points out: eat more vegetables! “There is often a lot of confusion about this category, depending on what diet is in vogue or what we might see in the latest study. When I coach clients, they worry too much about which vegetables are best. scientific or food trends show, what we always know is that real food wins.”
Part two of this short series will be released in two weeks and focuses on fruit and outdoor cooking.