It’s said that carrots are good for your eyesight …. OK, but if you want them cooked, what’s the best way? Steamed, braised, baked? If you’re not sure what’s what, take stock here!
This dilemma, of course, does not apply to all foods. Some have to be cooked and others, like fruit for example, are preferably to be eaten raw. But there’s a wide variety of foodstuffs that can be eaten either way. Lovely as part of a salad and crunchy in a traybake. Perfect in gazpacho or as vegetable rounds. Basically it’s not easy to work out what’s best, when it comes to nutritional balance.
Keep the vitamins as intact as possible
Naturopaths will tell you this over and over. It’s preferable to eat vegetables raw to keep the vitamins and minerals as intact as possible. Because from 60°C upwards vitamin C vanishes, from 90°C onwards B vitamins take their leave and, from 110°C upwards, all the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and K) follow. OK, but… It’s not that easy, because while the cooking process impairs the nutritional value of our beloved veggies, a raw-food diet can be harsh for those with a sensitive stomach or digestive tract.
The upshot: mix things up as much as possible and listen to your body to treat it right. One of the clever tricks for getting more raw foods into your diet is putting starters back on the menu. For example, in spring, you can get back into courgette gazpacho, beetroot or radish salad. Perhaps you find raw salad vegetables really hard to digest? Then switch the order over, and eat your starter after the main course. As a complete meal, you can try the poké bowl. This is a very attractive dish that hails from Hawaii, with loads of vegetables and raw or marinated fish (tuna or salmon for example) served over rice or pulses. Also, remember not to buy too much fruit and vegetables at the Sunday market only to leave it all hanging around in the vegetable crisper. It’s better to buy less, but often. Lastly, to get the benefits of a perfectly-balanced diet, don’t forget to also switch between various oils (olive, walnut or grapeseed, etc.).
Get acquainted with other cooking methods
There are various cooking methods that keep nutrients intact.
whenever possible, favour steaming, which is the best at keeping vitamins intact. The temperature of the food gets no higher than 90°C. Favour a glass or stainless-steel steamer.
And most importantly, listen out for the ping of the timer . Don’t steam the food for too long, so as to keep the vegetables crunchy. For example five minutes for spring carrots, 10 for asparagus, 15 for cauliflower … Rather than cutting your vegetables into small pieces, roughly chop them to keep even more of the micronutrients intact. And most importantly, don’t peel or prepare them until the last minute, otherwise it’s bye-bye vitamins.
this slow cooking process, whereby the food is heated to no more than 95°C in a lidded pan, requires no oil.
La cuisson au four :
opt for a long baking time at a low temperature, or steam oven mode if your appliance has one.
Devotees of traditional Chinese medicine will tell you: never go to excesses, neither too hot nor too cold. So what’s the best cooking method in their view? Wok frying, which has had its moment in the sun in Europe.
What’s the point? To just cook vegetables a little so that you are not eating them completely raw. As a single takeaway from this age-old school of medicine, note the following: avoid eating foods that are too cold (straight from the fridge for example) or too hot. As is the case for cheese, let foods sit a little at room temperature before serving them. It’s a really good idea for Sunday brunch at home, for example. As for ayurvedic medicine, it favours cooked foods instead, since they are gentler on the digestive system.
Follow the basic rules
Eating locally-sourced, seasonal foods is the best way to keep their vitamins intact! The peel of fruit (preferably organic) is full of goodness. Rince your pieces of fruit thoroughly (with a little bicarbonate of soda in the water) before eating them unpeeled. For vegetables, if they are a bit limp, go right ahead and squeeze a little lemon juice onto them to perk them up (and add vitamin C to boot). As for the boiling method (starting with cold or boiling water), it depends on the type of vegetable. Some say that root vegetables, like potatoes, beetroot and carrots, must be started off in cold water and then brought to the boil. Other vegetables that grow above ground, like green beans, sweetcorn and cabbage, should go straight into boiling water.
What about raw meat and fish?
Not all foods of animal origin can be eaten raw, for food hygiene reasons (the risk of salmonella, for example). So which ones can you eat raw? Well, some species of fish, like tuna, salmon and swordfish, can easily be served raw. As for meat, it’s essentially beef. For some, carpaccio and steak tartare are a real treat.
A word of advice: if you’re preparing raw dishes yourself, seek out a trusted artisan to source cuts of excellent quality. And most importantly, prepare the meal immediately afterwards. Or leave it to a restaurant to satisfy your raw-food cravings!