In response to our last entry, many have asked what’s the best way to cook, particularly where vegetables are concerned. In this entry, I’ll give you two ways to go, and two ways not to go.
Quick, Cheap and Easy
If you’re looking for a quick, cheap and easy way to cook your veggies – available to almost anyone with a stove or hot-plate – steaming is a way to go. You can actually buy a steamer (as an appliance), or you can place a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and lightly steam your veggies that way. I haven’t used this approach in years, and there are several elements to this process that will compromise some of the nutritional value of your veggies. But, when compared to boiling, sautéing or, especially, nuking them in the micro, steaming is probably your best option in the realm of conventional choices.
What About the Microwave?
I would definitely not microwave veggies. Here’s my rule of thumb on that: if you’re wanting to eat something mainly for the macronutrients (protein, carbs or healthy fats) like a veggie burger or similar soy product, then use the micro if you must. However, if you’re wanting to eat something mainly for the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, etc.), do not use the microwave. I’ve seen some scary studies where so much of the nutritional firepower of these foods is destroyed this way. Actually, the microwave scares me in general, so I wouldn’t recommend that anyone go out of their way to use it for anything. But if you must, some of the frozen “vegan meat” products are acceptable to nuke.
As for a more “unconventional” approach, the absolute ultimate way that I’ve found to cook anything – veggies and greens included – is with cookware by a company called Saladmaster. It’s a low-heat, waterless/oil-less method using cookware that’s made from surgical stainless steel. [I believe their latest version involves titanium.] The advantages are numerous: This low-heat, waterless approach retains the maximum amount of nutrients; the no-oil factor gets rid of all unhealthy forms of fat; and the surgical stainless steel ensures that your cooking is 100% non-toxic, because none of the metals are leached into the food. Unfortunately, I know of no other type of cookware where this is the case. Steel, glass, aluminum, iron…some amount of all of these materials are leached into the food when you cook with them, microscopic as it may be. How damaging this can be to your health in the long-run is hard to quantify. But let’s just say that I would prefer to cut down on the amount of heavy metals in my veggies, especially since I know I’ll be getting some in my food when I dine out! And Teflon? Throw that shit out – now! It’s the fucking worst.
The other thing I notice about the Saladmaster approach is that the veggies retain both their vibrant color and full size (no shrinkage), and everything tastes notably better than standard ways of cooking. I’m sure it has something to so with the fact that they’re not boiling in water or enduring the extreme temperatures associated with conventional cooking. In fact, as I mentioned in the last entry, I usually don’t even use any seasoning, just so I can taste the true flavor of the vegetables.
The Bad News
And now for the bad news. First, Saladmaster cookware is, in my opinion, obscenely expensive. Yes, it’s indestructible, comes with a lifetime guarantee, prepares your food in the healthiest way, and supposedly cuts down on your grocery bill (because without the shrinkage factor and loss of nutrients, you’re actually getting more of the food into your system, which means more bang for your buck at the market). And hey, maybe that titanium/surgical stainless steel stuff really is super-costly to produce. But as a bona fide bachelor motherfucker who basically only cooks for one, the pricing still strikes me as offensive. (For example – and don’t quote me on this because it’s been years since I bought my pieces – I believe one modest pot could list for around $300 if you buy it individually, and a full, extensive set of this stuff could go for $3000 and up!)
Secondly, it’s not available at retail, which means you have to find an independent dealer in your area and go through all of that direct marketing protocol, instead of just entering your digits into some website and ordering what you want. [Wow…what an attitude I have, huh? Actually, I don’t honestly know what’s involved with the direct-from-dealer approach these days…] Obviously, I am not a dealer, nor do I have any financial ties to this company, nor would I even know where to tell you to go to buy it. (Google it in your area, maybe?) And yet – this Saladmaster shit is unbelievable, and I wouldn’t use anything else.
The “Bachelor” Set
For the record, I personally do fine with four pieces: a smaller sauce pan (which fits a bag of veggies perfectly), a covered skillet (which holds two bags of veggies or one large serving of greens) and a mid-sized pot that I use for rice and pasta. Honorable mention goes to my fourth piece, which is the Saladmaster Machine for regular salads. This thing is out of control! You put on these different cones for different styles of cuts, and you can slice and chop together the most incredible salads in minutes. Plus, I’m sure you can prep a number of your cooked veggies using this unit, as well. I just never bother.
So, to review our two-yes and two-no agenda here:
- Yes – it’s acceptable to steam the veggies.
- Yes – to cooking anything with Saladmaster cookware.
- No to microwaving veggies.
- Fuck no to using Teflon for cooking veggies or anything else.
That’s the quick overview, friends.