When is the last time someone ran up to you and said, “Gimme five!”? Well, First Lady Michelle Obama is asking you to #GimmeFive for the fifth anniversary of her health-driven Let’s Move! campaign. We decided to step up to the challenge and list the most ideal ways of cooking five nutrient-packed vegetables, along with a breakdown of how the cooking method affects your greens.
Best way to prep: sautéed
Spinach, along with Swiss chard and beet greens, contains a special compound that binds calcium, a vitamin praised for its bone-strengthening properties. In order for the calcium to be released, the vegetable needs to be exposed to heat. The heat also releases more magnesium and iron, two essential vitamins that help with organ function and blood balance, respectively. Due to its high vitamin and mineral contents, spinach also contains many antioxidants, as well as a cancer-fighting carotenoid that may prevent prostate cancer.
Best way to prep: raw
All cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Bok choy) contain an enzyme that, when chewed or cut up, releases cancer-fighting compounds. Crazy, right? But, when cooked, these properties are significantly decreased or even eliminated. To keep those anti-cancer compounds, chop broccoli into your salad or use as a dipping stick for hummus. If you prefer it cooked, steam or lightly sauté it. Boiling broccoli eliminates many of the beneficial nutrients in the vegetable.
Best way to prep: roasted
Yes, the tomato is technically a fruit, but we’ll make an exception for this list. Tomatoes also have a cancer-fighting nutrient called lycopene. Lycopene is found in many other red-colored fruits and vegetables, such as red peppers or watermelon. Roast tomatoes to maximize the amount of lycopene, or sauté them up and throw them into a sauce.
Best way to prep: steamed in broth
Asparagus is full of anti-aging and gut-cleansing vitamins and minerals that are best brought out through steaming. Heat up a few tablespoons of veggie or chicken broth, add asparagus, and cover for about five minutes. Yum!
Best way to prep: microwave
Microwave vegetables? Yep! Turns out the nifty little machine is not as detrimental toward vegetables as many people think. Microwaving sweet potatoes is without a doubt the fastest way to prepare the vegetable, and also brings out the beta-carotene within, which fortifies your hair and nails. To cook your sweet potato, first rinse and lightly scrub it to eliminate dirt. Then, poke holes with a fork around the circumference of the potato, put it into a bowl and cover with a moistened paper towel. Microwave for 2 minutes, rotate the potato, and microwave for another 1-2 minutes. Enjoy salted with a light sprinkle of olive oil, or sweet with cinnamon!
When it comes to preparing and consuming vegetables, the best rule of thumb to follow is to keep it diverse. Eat vegetables of all colors, and try to maintain a balance of raw and cooked foods. Happy munching!