7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables

7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images
7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images

How to Cook Fresh Vegetables

Are you a creature of habit in the kitchen and at the grocery store? Do you reach for the same carrots and celery for snacks, bagged greens for salads, and frozen veggies for dinnertime sides? It’s time to break out of your food rut. Learn a few basic cooking techniques, then head to the produce aisle and pick out something new. With very little time and effort, you can create crave-worthy veggie side dishes every night of the week.
 
Note: The smaller you cut your vegetables, the faster they will cook. Aim for bite-size pieces unless noted below. No matter how large or small your pieces are, be sure they are the same size to avoid uneven cooking.
 
For each cooking technique, you’ll need four cups prepared vegetables to yield four servings. If you’re cooking for fewer people, you can adjust the amounts or save extras for future meals.
 
Stir-fry

How to: Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat.
When the pan is hot, add the chopped veggies.
Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender yet crisp.
For flavor add one of the following:
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or ginger
  • low-sodium soy sauce or
  • miso paste
Good for: bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, snow peas, celery, green beans, cabbage and carrots
Tip: Add “harder” vegetables such as broccoli and green beans first, then softer veggies like onions and peppers.

 
Roast

How to: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut your vegetables into uniform pieces.
Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Drizzle on 2 teaspoons oil, sprinkle with pinch of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon dried herbs.
Roast, stirring halfway through the cooking process:
  • 10-20 minutes for quick-cooking veggies
  • 20-30 minutes for long-cooking veggies
Good for: 
Quick-cooking vegetables:  mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli
Long-cooking vegetables:  sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, turnips, butternut squash, and parsnips, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts

 
Veggie Casserole

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid with cooking spray.
Add your vegetables, chopped into uniform pieces.
Add flavor with:
  • 2 teaspoons purchased pesto or
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, oregano, parsley, thyme or rosemary
Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Good for: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, onions, celery, cabbage
 

Faux Fry

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.

Slice your vegetables into long, thin strips and pat them dry with paper towels.
Assemble a dipping station. You’ll need two shallow with flat dishes, such as pie pans.

  • To the first, add 2 beaten egg whites
  • To the other, add 1 cup fine breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon dried parsley and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Spritz the vegetables with cooking spray, dip in the egg whites, then the bread crumb mixture.
Place vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables once, until the crust is golden brown.
Serve with a dipping sauce such as salsa, hummus, pesto or tomato sauce.
Good for: green beans (no need to slice), eggplant, squash, onions, mushrooms or asparagus

 
Steam (Microwave or Stove)

How to: 
Slice the vegetables.
For the microwave: Place veggies in a microwave-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook on high for 3-5 minutes.
For stove top steaming: Place veggies in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, using a steamer basket if you have one. Add 1/4 cup water and cover. Cook on medium-high for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp and bright yet slightly tender.
To add flavor, add 1 bay leaf or 2 lemon slices to the cooking water.
Good for: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snow pea pods, zucchini and summer squash

 
Grill

How to: 
Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium.
Slice vegetables into 1/2 inch thick slices or strips.
Brush with reduced-fat Italian salad dressing or balsamic vinegar.
Grill for 5 minutes until the vegetables are crisp yet tender.
Good for: asparagus, eggplant, spring onions, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms
Note: Use a grill basket or skewers for small vegetables on an outdoor grill to prevent them from falling through the grates.

 
Parchment or Foil Packets

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place your chopped veggies on a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment.
Add flavor by:
  • Sprinkling with 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil, oregano or parsley
  • Layering 4 lemon slices on top veggies or
  • Adding 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Fold and seal the foil or parchment around the veggies to form a packet. 
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender yet crisp.
Good for: sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and mushrooms

Spaghetti with Roasted Eggplant “Bolognese”

Eggplant stands in for the ground beef in this substantial vegetarian main dish. Be sure to serve it with plenty of grated cheese on the side.

Spaghetti with Roasted Eggplant Bolognese images
Spaghetti with Roasted Eggplant Bolognese images

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant
1 bay leaf1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, oregano, or both
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces spaghetti
2 garlic cloves, minced
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, pulsed a few times in a food processor or blender

directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut eggplant into ½-inch dice, toss with salt in a large mixing bowl, and transfer to a colander. Place bowl underneath to drain, and nest a smaller bowl inside the colander pressing down on the eggplant cubes. Put something heavy inside the bowl to weight it (like a container of salt or can of tomatoes.) Let eggplant drain for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until tender but not brown, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes, then uncover pan and simmer 5 minutes more. Stir in herbs, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat; discard bay leaf.
  3. Remove eggplant cubes from colander and spread between two double layers of paper towels, pressing down to dry them. Transfer to a bowl and toss with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet; roast for 10 minutes, then increase oven temperature to 475 degrees, gently stir, and continue baking until eggplant cubes are tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Stir roasted eggplant to the pot containing the tomato sauce and gently reheat while pasta cooks. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain well and toss with eggplant sauce. Top with grated cheese and serve immediately.

Pasta

Pasta – Foods That Are Healthier Than You Think

Pasta images
Pasta images

Pasta is often made out to be a dietary villain by those trying to avoid carbs and gluten, but it can actually be pretty healthy, says Rania Batayneh, a certified nutritionist and author of the upcoming book, The 1:1:1 Diet. Pasta is not only high in folic acid but also naturally low in fat (unlike unhealthy reduced-fat packaged foods). And pasta’s glycemic index, or GI, (a way of measuring short-term changes in blood sugar after a meal) is only 41. That number is similar to pears, lower than many types of bread and much lower than glucose, which ranks 100, Batayneh says.

Mini Eggplant Pizzas

Ditch the crust and boost your veggie intake with these eggplant “pizzas.”

Mini Eggplant Pizzas images
Mini Eggplant Pizzas images

Minutes to Prepare: 5
Minutes to Cook: 12
Number of Servings: 4

Ingredients

1 eggplant – 3 inches in diameter, peeled and cut into 4 half-inch thick slices
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup pasta sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 425 degrees F. Brush both sides of the eggplant with the oil and season with the salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake until browned and almost tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once. Spread 1 tablespoon of pasta sauce on each eggplant slice. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Number of Servings: 4

Nutritional Info:
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 119.1
Total Fat: 7.5 g
Cholesterol: 7.5 mg
Sodium: 458.6 mg
Total Carbs: 8.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.2 g
Protein: 4.9 g

Bruschetta Stuffed Mushrooms

All the flavor of bruschetta, in a mushroom!

Bruschetta-Stuffed Mushrooms images
Bruschetta-Stuffed Mushrooms images

Minutes to Prepare: 5
Minutes to Cook: 10
Number of Servings: 2

Ingredients

2 portabella mushrooms (or 6 baby portabella mushrooms)
1 shallot, diced
1/4 C red pepper, diced
1/4 C zucchini, diced
2 C baby spinach, stems removed
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 T flax seed meal
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 Roma tomato, sliced
1 oz mozzarella cheese
2 t Parmesan cheese, shredded

Directions

Using a spoon, remove the stems and gills from the mushrooms, which are the dark ridges on the underside of the mushroom. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet set over a medium flame. Add the shallot, red pepper, zucchini and saute for 1 minute. Add the cleaned and trimmed spinach and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Spray the bottom of each mushroom with nonstick cooking spray and place on a baking sheet pan. Place in the oven for 1-2 minutes just to heat the mushrooms. Rub each mushroom with the smashed garlic. Sprinkle with the flax seed meal. Divide the vegetable mixture between the two mushrooms, then top with tomato and cheese. Bake for 6 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Drizzle vinegar over cooked mushrooms before serving.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 191.9
Total Fat: 12.3 g
Cholesterol: 9.6 mg
Sodium: 134.2 mg
Total Carbs: 14.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.2 g
Protein: 10.2 g

low calorie meals

low calorie meals Restricted recipes

low calorie meals recipes images

low calorie meals Breakfast (190 calories)

Oatmeal made with 1.4 ounces steel-cut oats (160 calories) and water

Scant (slightly less than 1/2 cup)  fresh blueberries (30 calories)

low calorie meals Dinner (306 calories)

Chicken Stir-Fry (281 calories)

Cut a 5-ounce chicken breast fillet (148 calories) into strips. Stir-fry in a nonstick skillet in 1 teaspoon olive oil (27 calories) with 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger (2 calories), 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (3 calories), 1 clove garlic, crushed (3 calories), 2 teaspoons soy sauce (3 calories), and the juice of 1/2 lemon (1 calorie), until the chicken is lightly browned. Add water if it sticks.

Add 1/2 cup trimmed snow peas (12 calories), 1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (26 calories), and two large carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips (56 calories). Stir-fry for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the chicken is cooked through. Add water if necessary.

1 tangerine (25 calories)

Daily Total: 496

***

low calorie meals Breakfast (178 calories)

4 ounces smoked salmon (132 calories)

1 plain Ryvita cracker (35 calories)

low calorie meals recipes images 1 - plain ryvita crackers

1 ½ teaspoons low-fat whipped cream cheese (11 calories)

low calorie meals Dinner (322 calories)

Thai Salad (322 calories)

Soak 1.8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles (194 calories) in water, according to package instructions. Combine 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (20 calories), the juice of 1 lime (1 calorie), 1 teaspoon sugar (16 calories), 2 scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and thinly sliced (5 calories), and 1 very small red chile, finely chopped (1 calorie) in a bowl. Mix well. Add 10 very small cooked and peeled shrimp (30 calories) and 2 large carrots, peeled and grated (55 calories). Drain the noodles and add. Toss well.

Daily Total: 500 calories

***

low calorie meals Breakfast (223 calories)

1 small apple, sliced (47 calories)

1 small mango, peeled and pitted (86 calories)

1 small boiled egg (90 calories)

low calorie meals Dinner (267 calories)

Tuna, Bean, and Garlic Salad (267 calories)

Combine 1 1/2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (108 calories), one 5-ounce can solid white tuna in spring water, drained (119 calories), 2 ounces grape tomatoes (16 calories), and 1 loosely packed cup baby spinach (8 calories) in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, combine 1 clove garlic, crushed (3 calories), the juice and grated zest of lemon (1 calorie), ½ teaspoon olive oil (12 calories), and a splash of white wine vinegar. Drizzle over the salad and toss to mix well.

Daily Total: 490 calories

***

low calorie meals Breakfast (140 calories)

1 small boiled egg (90 calories)

3 ultra-thin slices 97 percent fat-free ham (25 calories)

1 tangerine (25 calories)

low calorie meals Dinner (358 calories)

Vegetable Pizza (358 calories)

Preheat the oven or a toaster oven to 400°F. Top one 8-inch whole-wheat tortilla (144 calories) with 1 tablespoon tomato puree (5 calories) and 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, diced (159 calories). Scatter with about 6 ounces chopped lightly steamed vegetables (50 calories); mushrooms, red pepper, zucchini, red onion, eggplant, spinach are all OK. Sprinkle with Italian herb seasoning. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Daily Total: 498 calories

***   

low calorie meals Breakfast (331 calories)

2 small soft-boiled eggs (180 calories)

5 lightly steamed asparagus spears (33 calories), to dip

1 slice whole-grain toast (78 calories)

2 small plums (40 calories)

low calorie meals Dinner recipes  (260 calories)

Thai Steak Salad (260 calories)

low calorie meals recipes images 2 - Thai Steak Salad

Grill a 5-ounce sirloin steak (188 calories) until cooked to your preferred doneness. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Slice the steak very thin across the grain. In a bowl, combine 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce (16 calories) and 1 cup shredded savoy cabbage (24 calories). In a separate bowl, combine the juice of 1 lime (2 calories), 1 teaspoon sugar (16 calories), 1 clove garlic, crushed (3 calories), 1 very small red chile, seeded and finely chopped (1 calorie), and 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (10 calories). Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

Place the salad on a plate and arrange the steak slices on top.