Steaming is the best way to bring out the tastes nature intended for food to have. This process of cooking allows heat to surround the food with enough heat to cook inside and out while retaining the vitamins without burning or overcooking. The best way to steam vegetables is with a double boiler. However, since that method requires more time, another option is the ever popular microwave.
DOUBLE BOILER METHOD
A double-boiler is made of two fitted saucepans. The bottom saucepan is usually filled with water to provide heat and the top pan is made like a sifter to take in the heat from the bottom pan.
Fill the bottom saucepan with enough water (approximately 3/4 of saucepan) and let it boil at medium to high heat. Once the water has started boiling and steam starts to rise, fill the second saucepan with fresh vegetables and place on top of the first saucepan. Cover the vegetables and let it steam until the vegetables are tender. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables. It usually takes beefy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower about 5 to 7 minutes to be tender. However, it is important to use your mouth to test the tenderness. A tender vegetable should not melt in your mouth, but rather require a little chewing before breaking down. Once the vegetable is tender, turn the heat on low and add sea salt, turmeric powder or plain ground pepper for taste. Sea salt is important because it brings more taste out of the vegetables without overpowering them as table salt does. Leave the vegetables on low heat for one more minute or until the salt is absorbed. The salt should be added in at the end because the vegetables are tender enough to absorb them.
If you don't have enough time to use a double boiler or don't own a double boiler, have no fear because steamed vegetables can be made in the microwave. Fill a plastic container with the vegetables desired and add 1/4 of the amount of vegetables used. For example one cup of vegetables needs 1/4 a cup of water. Once again add sea salt to taste, cover and put in the microwave for approximately 3 minutes. It is important for the vegetables tom remain covered as this allows the heat to be trapped. The time it takes for the vegetables to cook depends on the power of the microwave being used and the vegetables being cooked. Some microwaves might steam vegetables in 3 minutes while others might need 6 minutes, so use your mouth to test its tenderness. Be careful when taking the lid off the plastic container as the steam will be extremely hot. Make sure to open the lid away from your face and let the vegetables cool down before tasting.
Steaming allows vegetables to retain all their vital vitamins, so make every effort to steam your fresh vegetables as much as you can. Steamed vegetables make great additions to rice and couscous plates. If you're making soup, you can steam the vegetables above the soup in a double boiler before adding to the soup. However, do this only if the vegetables are steamed for half the original time. Add them as the last ingredient so as to avoid overcooking them. Steaming them above the soup allows them to retain more of the flavor. These are fun and flavorful ways of enjoying vegetables to achieve your healthy goals this new year.