You are browsing the archive for vegetables Archives - Food from East.

What do you think about cooking vegetables in a microwave?

Categories: Articles, Cooking tips, Food Safety, Vegetables, Vegetarian

For The Vegetarians: Red Curry Kohlrabi

For The Vegetarians: Red Curry KohlrabiHealthy Food Tip

What do you think about cooking vegetables in a microwave?

We get many questions about whether we recommend cooking vegetables in a microwave. As you will see throughout our website, light steaming is our cooking method of choice for most vegetables. Loss of nutrients in the microwave depends on the same factors involved with loss of nutrients on the stovetop.

To predict the nutrient loss, it’s important to know answers to questions like: “Is the vegetable placed in water? How much water? To what temperature are the vegetable and water heated? For how long? We’ve seen studies showing minimal loss of nutrients from microwaved vegetables, and we’ve also seen studies showing substantial loss. In general, we prefer stovetop steaming that can be accomplished in as little time as microwaving while providing a more even heat.

http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=newtip&dbid=38&utm_source=daily_click&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_email

Are the carbs in vegetables the same cooked or uncooked?

Carbs (carbohydrates) in vegetables can definitely be affected by cooking. They are not affected as quickly or as extensively as phytonutrients like flavonoids or carotenoids, but they are still subject to changes from baking, boiling, steaming, and roasting. The exact impact of cooking on vegetables-and on other foods as well -depends on how long you cook them, how high a temperature you cook them at, and how much moisture you use when cooking them. But here are some basics about vegetables, cooking, and carbs that you should know.

Conversion of starch to sugar

Heat can help increase the rate at which vegetable starches get converted into vegetable sugars. A baked Russet potato, for example, will lose about 10% of its raw-form total starch content and convert that starch content into sugar. From a nutritional perspective, this loss of starch and increase in sugar is relatively small and not typically a cause for great concern. However, the baking of a starchy vegetable can also raise its glycemic index (GI) value. This increase in GI (often related to the conversion of starches to sugars) holds true for vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, plaintains, and carrots. A raw carrot typically has a GI value in the 15-20 range. A cooked carrot’s GI will typically fall into the 35-50 range. (You can find a reliable list of GI values in the website established by David Mendosa and based on research at the University of Sydney in Australia at http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm.)

Changes in resistant starch

Research studies show definite changes in levels of resistant starch naturally occurring in vegetables (and other foods). Resistant starches are generally viewed as helpful carbohydrates that resist breakdown in the digestive tract long enough to reach the large intestine and support the metabolic needs of helpful bacteria and cells lining the large intestine. However, the precise relationship between vegetable cooking and resistant starch is not yet clear. In some cases, the cooking of vegetables has presented some very favorable results with respect to the amount of available resistant starches. In other cases, no change in resistant starch levels has been determined to result from cooking. While the jury is still out in this area of research, look for future studies about the impact of cooking on the levels of resistant starch in vegetables and other foods.

Dry versus liquid heat

When vegetables are boiled in water, some of their sugars and starches are lost into the cooking water. When vegetables are roasted or baked in the oven, this loss of sugars and starches into water does not take place. For this reason, vegetables like boiled green beans will typically lose a small percent of both sugars and starches into the cooking water, whereas oven-roasted green beans will not. However, these changes in carbohydrate composition are once again relatively small and not usually a major factor in deciding about cooking method.

WHFoods Recommendations

When it comes to their carb content, vegetables can generally be enjoyed without problems in either cooked or raw form. Ratios of sugar to starch may change during cooking, as can amounts of available resistant starch and GI value. Among all of these factors, GI value may be the most important factor to consider for individuals who are following a diet that is focused on blood sugar control and insulin balance.

photo by: Tobyotter

Chinese View of Nutrition discussed by Two Western Nutritionists

Categories: Articles, Asian, Eastern Nutrition, Food Education, Food Energetics

Chinese food has a bad reputation in the UK. The rice-heavy meals and fatty meat dishes are thought to lead straight to obesity and heart disease. But properly prepared, says Chinese food expert Lorraine Clissold, the very opposite is true: the Chinese way of eating is healthy and fulfilling, fights illness and prolongs life. She also insists, in her book Why the Chinese Don’t Count Calories, that a real Chinese diet won’t make you fat, and that the rising levels of obesity observable in China are in fact caused by sugary, overprocessed Western food. Here are some of her Chinese dietary secrets‚ and the verdict of two Western nutrition experts, Patrick Holford and Ian Marber.

1. Stop counting calories

The Chinese don’t have a word for “calories”. They view food as nourishment, not potential weight gain. A 1990 survey found that Chinese people consumed 30 per cent more calories than Americans, but were not necessarily more active. Clissold says their secret is avoiding the empty calories of sugary, nutrient-free foods.

Holford says: “The latest research into weight loss shows that calorie-controlled, low-fat diets are less effective than low glycemic load diets, which is exactly what a traditional Chinese diet is.”

Marber says: “There is one calorie in a Diet Coke, and 340 calories in an avocado. Which one is actually good for you? It’s a no-brainer. The avocado supplies you with monounsaturated fats and omega-6, which actually help increase metabolic rate.”

2. Think of vegetables as dishes

Rather than an uninspiring accompaniment to meat or fish, the Chinese treat vegetables as meals in their own right, rather than add-ons, as in the West.

Marber says: “I’m a great believer in combining protein and carbohydrate. There aren’t many complex carbohydrates in vegetables, but they should count as a dish. If the majority of your meal is vegetables, and you add some protein, you’ll always have a perfect meal.”

Holford says: “Vegetables should make up half of what’s on your plate in any given meal, so this fits perfectly with the Chinese diet.”

3. Fill up on staple foods

Without rice, which is low in fat and high in nutrients and fibre, claims Clissold, it is impossible to eat until you are full. Low-carb diets promise to burn fat, but Clissold says that replacing carbs with food that is higher in fat and lower in nutrients is not a long-term answer to weight loss.

Marber says: “I don’t agree. That Chinese person shovelling rice down is slightly pudgy because they eat too much rice. But from a financial point of view it’s very useful, because Atkins-style diets are very expensive.”

4. Eat until you are full

The Chinese eat until they are full, and then stop. Westerners often take a feast-and-famine approach to eating that is ridden with guilt, purging during the week, and binging over the weekend, or skipping lunch to make room for cake, The Chinese tend to eat three good meals every day.

Holford says: “Provided that a meal has a high intake of fibre-rich vegetables and a balance of protein and carbohydrate, which a typical Chinese meal would, then you should eat until you are full. But the combination of high sugar, refined carbs (the white stuff) and high fat allows for more food to be eaten in a short space of time before the body’s ‘appestat’ kicks in and tells you to stop.”

Marber says: “What does ‘full’ mean? I think so much of that message is lost in the conspicuous consumption of the Western world. But be careful: it takes a while for the brain to recognise CCK, the hormone released when you are full, so you’re actually full quite a lot earlier than you realise.”

5. Take liquid food

Soup, or a soup-based dish, is present at every Chinese meal, often in the form of a watery porridge, zhou. Western diets can be very dry, and nutritionists compensate by urging us to drink more water, which the Chinese would never do with a meal. Instead, they make a nourishing liquid food part of the meal. And it’s a great way of using up leftovers.

Holford says: “Thirst is often confused with hunger. Also, drinking does tend to fill you up. So soups help you control your appetite.”

Marber says: “I’m a great believer in soups before food. Miso soup, for instance, or anything fermented; these are probiotics, which help release nutrients from the food you are about to eat.”

6. Bring yin and yang into your kitchen

A good Chinese diet balances yin (wet and moist) and yang (dry and crisp) ingredients. Yin foods cool the body down, while yang foods (meat, spicy dishes, wine, coffee) heat it up. The sharing, multi-dish approach to eating in China means most meals contain yin and yang in equilibrium.

Marber says: “You should have complex carbs, a protein and a grain together for many different reasons, one of which is the experience of eating. The typical English bastardisation of Chinese food, chicken and cashew nuts, is a good example: you’ve got the softness of the chicken, the crunch of the nut and the satisfying rice.”

Holford says: “Most protein foods are seen as yang, carbohydrates as yin. The combination of these two helps stabilise blood sugar, which is the key to good energy and minimising weight gain.”

7. Raw power? not necessarily

Chinese people don’t eat raw salad. While raw food has a higher concentration of vitamins than cooked food, Clissold says the research ignores that lightly cooking food makes its nutrients easier for the body to take on. This way, it can conserve energy for other tasks. The stomach is unable to digest too much raw food; this can lead to bloating and weight gain.

Holford says: “The rawer the better. In almost all cases, raw food has more nutrients, though lightly cooking some vegetables can make those nutrients more bio-available.”

Marber says: “I don’t hold with this one. Eating a big salad with lots of different raw vegetables in it is very satisfying, and I can’t believe your average Brit is going to blanch salad.”

8. Use food to keep fit

Chinese medicine prescribes various foods as medical treatments: chillies to promote digestion and dispel cold; garlic to counteract toxins. The ultimate purpose is to ensure all the organs are working correctly to allow energy, or chi, to circulate smoothly around the body.

Holford says: “Two thousand years ago, Hippocrates said, ‘Let food be your medicine.’ But we in the West forgot. Peasant communities tend to have more respect for the cycle of food and how it supports life.”

9. Drink green tea

Green tea eliminates toxins, aids digestion and allays hunger. Scientists have found that it also fights free radicals, which cause cancer and heart disease.

Marber says: “I’m a great believer in green and herbal teas. Green tea is an important antioxidant, but it will only help you lose weight if you drink 40 cups a day. I’m also a great believer in a skinny latte once in a while, or every morning, in my case.”

Holford says: “Traditionally, when the Chinese want another cup of tea, they’ll keep the same leaves and add water to the pot. That’s like only using one teabag a day, which means much less caffeine.”

10. Take restorative exercise

Try regular, gentle exercise such as tai chi. A sweaty workout might shed fat, but it is stressful for your body. Energetic, aerobic workouts are yang (they heat us up) while breathing exercises are yin.

Holford says: “Exercise after a meal promotes an active metabolism and helps control appetite. Although no one has worked out how to measure chi, the vital energy that these exercises promote, it’s a real thing that can easily be experienced. Many trials now show benefits to energy levels and immunity from these chi-generating exercises.”

Marber says: “Tai chi gives you a sense of balance, calm and peacefulness. Sweating it out at the gym is the precise opposite, but I can’t help it; I’m vain, shallow and modern. I think we’ve got a really messed-up view of how the body should look, and that it’s how we look, rather than how we feel, that matters.”

Source: Sophie Morris, The Independent: Extra, 22 July 2008, page 8.

The effect of cooking on Brassica vegetables: Steaming wins…

Categories: Articles, Cooking tips

By Sissi Wachtel-Galor and Colleague
The brassica family of vegetables includes: broccoli, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, pak choi and kohlrabi. It is one of the healthiest and most nutritious vegetable groups. Recent research has highlighted its strong anti-cancer benefits.
Assessing antioxidant intake requires a food antioxidant database. However, cooking may affect antioxidant content due to antioxidant release, destruction or creation of redox-active metabolites. Here, effects of boiling, steaming and microwaving of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and choy-sum (Chinese cabbage) were explored by measuring antioxidant contents of raw and cooked vegetables.

Cooking water was also tested. For all cooked vegetables, antioxidant content was highest in steamed > boiled > microwaved, and decreased with longer cooking time, regardless of method. All steamed vegetables had higher antioxidant contents than had matching raw vegetables. Effects were variable for boiling and microwaving.  Microwaving caused greater antioxidant loss into cooking water than did boiling. Marked losses of anitoxidants occurred in microwaved cabbage and spinach.

To assess food antioxidant content/intake accurately, cooking effects need detailed study. Steaming may be the
cooking method of choice to release/conserve antioxidants. The cooking water is a potentially rich source of dietary antioxidants.

This is the reason why I prefer to cook the steamed vegetables for my mother. Good for her bowel disease and scleroderma.;-)

http://stanford.wellsphere.com/general-medicine-article/the-effect-of-cooking-on-brassica-vegetables/797115