It’s hard enough to make your child eat her vegetables. Thus, it’s a must that your child should get the most out of her veggies when she decides to eat them. One of the ways to ensure this is through practicing nutrient-saving techniques in the preparation and cooking of vegetables. Of course, it is still ideal to serve veggies uncooked but unless they’re organic, this is unsafe. Besides, most children hate raw veggies even more.
Here are some ways for you to retain most of the nutrients when you cook and prepare vegetables for your child:
Don’t Remove Peelings as much as possible.
The outermost layers of vegetables are the most nutritious. Root crops like potatoes for instance lose up to 50 percent of their Vitamin C if they are cooked with the skin off. However, if they are boiled unpeeled, they only lose 20% or less.
Don’t Use Too Much Water in cooking.
The less water you use, the more nutrients in the vegetables are retained. When you swamp vegetables with cooking water, a high amount of water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C, dissolves into the liquid. Hence bake, stir fry or steam vegetables instead. You may also opt to use a microwave oven.
Reuse Leftover Cooking Liquid for other recipes rather than pouring it down the drain.
Use it as stock to make sauces and casseroles. This way, no nutrient goes to waste. If the leftover liquid tastes strong, cook legumes in it or mix it with brewer’s yeast so your child would hardly notice the flavor.
Don’t Cook Too Long.
The shorter time you cook a vegetable, the more of its vitamins and minerals you’ll save since a vegetable loses nutrients every minute it’s being cooked. It’s also easy to overcook vegetables because it’s impossible to standardize their cooking time due to their varied freshness and shape. So how do you know your vegetables are cooked? Turn off the stove once you can smell the aroma of the vegetable being cooked. Poking the veggie with a fork also helps in gauging tenderness.
Keep Vegetables Whole.
Don’t slice veggies and cook them as whole or at least slice them in huge chunks. The more exposed sides of a veggie, the more nutrients it loses. Unless you’re stir-frying, just cut as necessary. Besides, many vegetables taste better when they are cooked whole like when you bake potatoes, squash and eggplant. When baking whole vegetables, however, don’t forget to prick them with fork to provide steam valves and prevent explosion.
Cook Only What You Need for a meal.
Leftovers aren’t as nutritious as newly cooked food. A two-day-old cooked vegetable, for instance, has only 29% Vitamin C compared to the 83% it contained right after it was cooked. Even freezing doesn’t help much in retaining vitamins from leftovers. You’ll still lose about 20% of the original nutrients every day it stays in the fridge.