Select, Store, and Serve Vegetables to Retain Their Flavor and Nutrients
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses packed with vitamins and minerals. Plus they are naturally low in fat, sodium, calories and contain no cholesterol. Knowing how to select, store and serve vegetables can help them retain those nutrients.
Each vegetable provides different nutrients; therefore, variety is key. Asparagus is high in vitamin C and folate, whereas carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. By having both of those vegetables in a meal, you are getting a variety of nutrients, plus your meals and snacks are more appealing.
Knowing how to select, store, prepare and serve the highest quality vegetables is essential for vegetables to retain their flavor and nutrients. When selecting vegetables, look for brightly- colored vegetables that are blemish-free and have regular, characteristic shapes and sizes. Bruises and nicks can attract mold, which can lead to the spoilage of an entire bag of vegetables. Leaves or greens should be crisp, not wilted.
Buy fresh vegetables you plan to eat within a few days. Longer storage time equates to reduced nutrient levels, appeal, and taste. For the best value choose in-season vegetables from a local farmers market.
When fresh vegetables are out of season, buy frozen vegetables. They are low in sodium and are quick and easy to use. Avoid those packaged with heavy cream or sauces as they add calories, sodium and fat.
Storage of vegetables is important to maintain the vitamins and minerals. Store vegetables according to their type. Place root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, and yams, in a cool, dark place. Store other vegetables in the refrigerator crisper drawer, unwashed.
Now that you have properly selected, and stored the vegetables, it is time to prepare them. Start by washing them right before cooking. If possible, use a small scrub brush to help clean potatoes, cucumbers or other vegetables that have edible skin.
In order to preserve as many of the nutrients and fiber as you can, leave edible peels on vegetables whenever possible. The peels of many vegetables contain considerable amounts of nutrients and fiber that we need as part of a healthy diet.
Don’t forget that many vegetables can be enjoyed raw. Keep bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, bite size tomatoes, celery or other raw vegetables cleaned and ready to eat in your refrigerator. Keep them in sight and within easy reach for family members.
With time so important today, don’t forget about quick-cooking techniques. Stir-frying, steaming, and microwaving are all quick-cooking methods. Long exposure to higher temperatures leads to some loss of nutrients. Try to use as little water as possible when cooking vegetables, and consider reserving leftover cooking water, which contains nutrients, for adding to soups, stews or sauces later.
On your next trip to the farmers market or produce section of the grocery store, notice all the different varieties of vegetables available, and try something new. Make it a goal to try at least one new vegetable each shopping trip. You may discover a new favorite.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We’re available online at email firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.
I love this recipe for Veggie Rice Pilaf; it is one of my favorite recipes and is economical, quick, and healthy.
Veggie Rice Pilaf
2 cups low sodium broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1-cup instant brown rice, uncooked
3/4 cup vegetables (any combination)
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine broth, brown rice and margarine. Microwave time given on rice package. Stir well. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Pour into 9x13 prepared baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until heated through and liquid from rice is absorbed. Remove from oven and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.
By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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