Same Ingredients, Healthier Food: Here’s How

5 easy hacks to help you get the most out of your meals

5 easy hacks to help you get the most out of your meals.

1. USE A SHARP KNIFE

photo: Youtube

Dull knives tend to touch and damage more surface area of vegetables, causing nutrients and electrolytes to leach out. Keep your knives sharp to avoid nutrient loss. Nice clean cuts still allow vegetables to release nutrients, but it helps keep those nutrients in the vegetables themselves, not in the air or on the cutting board.

My go-to chef’s knife is the Miyabi Revolution. Four years after I bought it, it’s still going strong. The handle is comfortable and the knife is sturdy but nimble, up for any task I give it.

2. DON’T OVERCOOK (MOST) VEGETABLES

photo: Gygi

If you’re boiling say, broccoli, and you see that the water is green, that means the broccoli has been in the pot for too long and many of its nutrients are now in the water. Avoid this. But, if it happens, save the water and use it! You’ve basically got a simple homemade vegetable stock, and it’s the perfect base for a simple soup or veggie mash.

In general, boiling robs vegetables phytonutrient content. Stick to sautéing, steaming or microwaving.

 3. DO COOK YOUR TOMATOES & CARROTS

photo: kumquatblog

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a juicy raw tomato or Bugs-Bunnying out on a crunchy carrot. But, these vegetables contain nutrients that the body can absorb much more readily after they’ve been cooked, so roasted carrots or tomatoes you “sun-dry” in the oven effectively contain more antioxidants than they do before they’re heated. Cooking can also brings out natural sugars, which may encourage you—or your veggie-resistant family members—to eat more of these veggies.

 

 4. PREP, THEN WAIT

photo: lifesabargain

Certain foods release nutrients after they’ve been cut. This is because cutting or tearing them triggers a sort of vegetable equivalent of what we humans think of as the “fight or flight” response, and causes the vegetables to release phytonutrients that otherwise wouldn’t have formed.

Hand-tear lettuce, then store it for up to two days.

Chop onions and garlic and let them sit for at least 10 minutes—or, better yet—30, before you cook them. If they smell strong, it means they have a lot of healthful antioxidants inside. That’s nothing to cry about.

 

5. CHEW YOUR FOOD

We know you first heard this when you were about five years old, and that you’ve heard it since. That’s because it matters. The digestive process involves many steps, and it starts in your mouth. The smaller the pieces of food are, the more easily your stomach’s powerful gastric juices can break them down.
Bottom line: if you chew a one-inch broccoli floret five times, you just won’t get as much nutrition out of it as you would if you had chewed that same piece 15 times. As an added bonus, chewing more makes you more likely to savor your food, which helps with mindfulness and appetite control in addition to helping your body absorb all those extra vitamins.
We know you first heard this when you were about five years old, and that you’ve heard it since. That’s because it matters. The digestive process involves many steps, and it starts in your mouth. The smaller the pieces of food are, the more easily your stomach’s powerful gastric juices can break them down.

Bottom line: if you chew a one-inch broccoli floret five times, you just won’t get as much nutrition out of it as you would if you had chewed that same piece 15 times. As an added bonus, chewing more makes you more likely to savor your food, which helps with mindfulness and appetite control in addition to helping your body absorb all those extra vitamins.

About the Author

Elizabeth Weinstein
Elizabeth Weinstein lives, eats and works in Los Angeles.

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