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Yes, steam a mix of broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots. Then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and some spray butter.
Steaming is a great way to cook vegetables - especially if you like them plain and natural. however you can always add butter and salt (or salt substitute) with pepper. There are containers for this purpose - a lower section that you place the water in, and shelf with openings that you put the veggies on, then a cover that might have a small steam vent - leave it slightly open if you have one that can be used in the microwave. Start with 5 minutes, then keep checking every two minutes. If cooking in a saucepan on the stove in water or sitting inside a steamer basket, keep covered. Steaming will usually take a couple minutes longer than placing the veggies directly into the pan with just a small amount of water - maybe 1/2 cup.
You can also steam/saute kale or spinach - use a large frying pan. Steam first with a bit of canned broth then add oil or coconut oil to the pan and toss. Cook covered for a few minutes then season with salt and pepper, a bit of red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Adding garlic or onion powder will help most vegetables. Just sprinkle lightly and stir or toss to distribute evenly - you don't want to overwhelm the food just enhance it.
these will work as side dishes. When you want to try a main dish, then Google up how to cook Eggplant Parmigan and you will be able to follow the steps.
There are also basic cookbooks like Betty Crocker to learn how to make stuffed and baked mushroom caps for instance. Many supermarkets and growers will provide recipes at no charge, and ask the grocery clerks in the produce section. Or ask the butcher what to serve with the mat - the have lots of ideas for simple fare heated in the oven.
You can only learn to cook by experience.
I grew up watching my mom who never cooked half the things I do now. I just taught myself based on trial and error and what I liked. And I turned out to be a better cook than she ever was so don't be afraid.
I encourage you to experiment with things you have on hand - spices and herbs are meant to be used sparingly so try a little bit the first time. As you figure out what you like then you can be brave and add more the next time. And read lots of cookbooks and recipes just for inspiration. It isn't like baking - proportions don't matter nearly as much.
And one more thing. If you have any friends or relatives who cook, ask them to show you how they prepare each dish/ they will be flattered, and you will realize that unlike on the Food Network, mistakes are part of the fun.
Chef Meg's video recipes on Spark People are helpful and show step by step.
Also the technique videos are great.
I would suggest finding some blogs that show a picture for each step so you know what it looks like when it says "caramelize onions". (Pioneer Woman is great for this but everything she makes has a stick of butter in it so you would have to alter her recipes)
Start watching cooking shows. Record them and fast forward through the commercials. Or watch cooking videos online. I'm sure Food Network has lots of videos you can watch.
Spark Recipes has these videos:
that's a thought, especially the raw bit. I am partial to throwing lots of fruit into a blender and making smoothies, but veggies are tougher, but heck, I spent most of the night I worked at the ship grazing on a veggie and dip tray and trying new things. never had broccoli and dip before, but it was alright (could get used to it). I think that's the main way I could have veggies now, really. But I do wanna look up grilling. about the only other thing I do is roast corn in the husk in the oven and butter it at the table (sometimes I have a summer corn hankering, that's for sure)
"This is a revolution, dammit--we're going to have to offend SOMEBODY!"--William Daniels as John Adams, "1776".
"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"--Adm. David G. Farragut.
With vegetables, I like to keep it simple.
~Buy bags of baby carrots and eat them raw.
~Eat cabbage raw or cooked with a little spray butter on it with salt/pepper/
~Slice cucumbers and eat them plain, with seasoning, or instead of crackers with tuna salad or chicken salad.
~Take a 1 lb container of strawberries to work and slice them up and just eat them fresh as a snack. You can get several snacks from one container.
Many of the fruits and veggies I cook but others I just eat raw. Oh and if you like to grill, get a grill basket and grill everything from baby portabella mushrooms to carrots to sliced pineapple on the grill. Delish!!!!
For purchasing and storing fruits and veggies, the guide here on Spark is pretty useful:
You can find it on the "Nutrition" main page, under the "Articles and Videos" tab.
I'm another one who never cooked, but has learned to since starting here on Spark. The most important things for me were to never be afraid to try something (it's just food - worst that can happen is that I don't like what I come up with and end up throwing it out), and to experiment to find out what I like the best. After a year and a bit, I'm to the point where the Man and I prefer to eat at home most of the time, because I prepare foods that are more to our tastes than a restaurant can.
I also have a really well stocked spice cupboard, which currently has over 60 spices, some different oils (toasted sesame, walnut, olive, evoo), and some different vinegars (apple cider, red wine, rice, toasted rice, and a variety of balsamics). There are only two of us, so I buy my spices in small quantities from the "bulk" bins at a local health-food store --- it's much cheaper than buying pre-packaged, and I don't need to worry about them losing their flavour before I get around to using them.
Instead of books, I prefer to search around the web for recipes and instructions, and I've found that the videos on allrecipes.com and on YouTube can be super helpful. I generally will find four or five different versions of recipes and videos for the same basic meal, and I'll mish-mash them together to suit our tastes. For a good basic "stir-fry", you might want to try something like:
While I still experiment, I have found that most veggies taste best to me when I've roasted them. I always set the oven at 375 degrees, use a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it, spritz them with olive oil (I use a mister that measures 1 tsp per "spritz"), and add various spices. They go on the bottom rack in the oven, and the timing will depend on the veggie and how large the pieces are (I tend towards 1" cubes, so it will be somewhere around an hour for potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, or parsnips - but I flip them at the 30 minute mark and judge the rest of the timing from there). I prefer other veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, green beans) to be just warmed and still crisp, so they end up in the oven for between 10 and 13 minutes, depending on their size.
Quite honestly, since I let go of the idea of "perfect" and decided to just experiment, cooking has turned in to quite an enjoyable hobby for me. I treat it as a game to come up with new meals and new preparations, and can't imagine ever going back to not cooking for ourselves.
Good luck, and have fun!
Start weight: 240 lbs
Surgeon says Maintenance: 160 lbs (reached Jan. 23, 2014)
Revised Maintenance Weight: 155 lbs (reached March 7, 2014)
Revised again: 150 lbs (reached May 27, 2014)
Afraid of a colonoscopy? Believe me - they are much less frightening than surgery and chemotherapy.
Colonoscopies allow polyps to be removed before they can become cancer, or let cancers be found before they are too widespread. Please don't let fear stop you - cover your butt!
My go to cookbook, that got me away from eating out for lunch, is Fix It and Forget It Lightly by Phyllis Pellman Good. Healthy low fat crockpot recipes. You buy a bag of carrots, celery, onions, potatoes. You have most of what you need for most recipes. It tells you how many portions, divide them out into containers, can freeze and thaw for later, and how many calories, fat, etc. Seasoned veggies in many different ways, some with lean protein, or some all veggies, sections for that. I don't waste the veggies I buy, I use them all. This stuff tastes good and filling, not hard to pass up eating out when you got this, takes time to make though. Great book for cooking with veggies. Thought, I'd recommend. Best of luck.
A book that might be (???) of use to you is 'Eat to Live' by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Or 'Eat for Health', same author.
Apart from that I would like to say 'don't THINK too much, just do it. Try it out and if you like the end result, you will be fine. If you don't like it, you will probably figure out what to do differently next time.'
Cooking is no rocket science. Believe me.
And if nothing else works, register for a cooking class, where you can learn 'hands on'.
Eating Well is one of my favorite cooking websites for fast, healthy food. And look, a guide to cooking 20 different veggies! It tells you how to pick the best ones and multiple ways to prepare them.
Roasting veggies is super easy, and once they are roasted, they can last a couple days in the fridge. My absolute favorite veggie recipe is from Ina Garten. Toss a chopped up head of broccoli with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and several garlic cloves that have been sliced. Roast it at 400 or so until the flowers begin to brown. Take it out and immediately squeeze a lemon over it and then sprinkle with a couple of TBS of parm cheese. I could eat an entire head of broccoli every night prepared this way.
Edited by: LULUBELLE65 at: 5/12/2014 (04:46)
If you have formed the habit of checking on every new diet that comes along, you will find that, mercifully, they all blur together, leaving you with only one definite piece of information: french-fried potatoes are out. ~~Jean Kerr
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~~Anais Nin
Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks. ~~Marilyn Wann
I cook veggies every day, and aim for 10 servings. Simply make a " stir fry".
I cook some meat in olive oil, and then once that is almost cooked I toss in a few cups of veggies. Today is 2.5 cups of broccoli, 2 cups tomatoes, and a cup of mushrooms. Continue cooking till desired " done-ness ", and voila! ( 2 meals ).
For vegetarian, just skip the meat, and put veggies on rice. You can buy 90 second microwaveable ( Uncle Ben's ), and then just crisp up some stir fry veggies in a Tbsp. olive oil. Broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery, tomato, green beans, peppers, and onion can be loaded on the dish, and it is delicious.
You can substitute pasta , and mix up the veggies for variety, but it should help increase the veggies in your diet.
You could just make veggies a snack too. Take a can of corn, and a can of peas, and cook them together, and eat just like that ( 7 servings of veg ).
Edited by: RUSSELL_40 at: 5/8/2014 (10:54)
"We can't solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them "
- Albert Einstein
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
- Henry Ford
If you spend some time shopping in amazon, you'll see a ton of titles when you search 'vegetarian,' 'vegan,' and 'how to cook vegetables.' These cookbooks focus on vegetables but other cookbooks, especially those about cuisines of other cultures, will also give you lots of ideas. Reading cookbooks from the library leads to thinking about new combinations of veggies and you don't even have to use the recipes, just the ideas you get from reading.
'Greene on Greens' by Bert Greene is an old cookbook (cheap, used, on amazon) that has amazing delicious recipes for each vegetable. As the reviewers on amazon say, the recipes are not low-fat. I'm pretty sure you can adjust to try to make them lower-fat, however.
Buying vegetables and judging what is ripe and ready, that's usually somewhat covered by the supermarkets themselves. Fresh vegetables are so perishable that they get pushed to the discount bins, if there are any at the store.
The things that determine how you will cook vegetables: how much space do you have in your refrigerator for storing fresh produce, how much time do you have to cook, how adventurous is your cooking, how often do you shop for fresh produce, what does your spice rack look like, and what kind of diet are you on?
Frozen vegetables are a bargain. There's no waste when you freeze vegetables ready-to-cook. The waste comes from cooking them badly and not wanting to eat what you've cooked. Been there,done that!
'Vegan Secret Supper' by Merida Anderson is an impressive gorgeous cookbook that you will never use if you don't have time, access to a good supermarket, and above all, a love of carbs.
What to do when those veggies start getting old in your refrigerator? Make vegetable stock from them. When the vegetables are half-done, take half out and drain them, chop them a little more and make a hash (onions, chopped veggies, potatoes). Or pour some egg (or EggBeaters) over them and make a frittata. You would eat a hash or a frittata because they are entrees. The vegetable stock may sit in your refrigerator for a long time because you don't know what to do with it - so freeze it!
Scrub those aging veggies well, chop off the knobby ends, toss with some olive oil to coat them and then roast 'em! Then eat them, seasoned, hot or cold in a salad. Or use them as a last-minute addition to a soup.
I found borscht boring until I bought some borscht at a Polish deli (a brand from Poland). It was absolutely delicious. Meat-free. I noticed it contained apple juice. Huh? So there's an idea - think about throwing some chopped apples into that vegetable stock!
Chop semi-cooked veggies in smaller pieces, season so they are not too salty with whatever you want, put them in wonton and seal closed (instructions for stuffing and sealing are on the wonton wrapper package) and fry them like pot stickers or use them for dumplings in soup.
When making a soup you like, if you ever do make soups, use the vegetable stock or some of the vegetable stock. Before doing that, taste it to make sure it's not going to overpower the flavor of what you are making. Usually, it won't.
Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 5/8/2014 (09:21)
Most vegetable recipes can be cooked to "your" desired doneness. It is your choice! Stop worrying and just start cooking.
If you like your veggies tender-crisp---then you are using a shorter cooking time. Take out one of the veggies and taste it----do you like the texture?
If you like your veggies softer---then cook them a little longer.
If you like them really mushy---then cook them even longer (you may need to add a little more water too).
If it is a casserole dish that contains a thickening ingredient like eggs---then bake until the temperature is 165 degrees. You can get a quick-read thermometer at your grocery store for about $5. When you are getting near the end of the cooking time, take out the food item. Hold the tip of the thermometer in the center of the food. If it is 165 degrees or higher---remove from oven---it is ready to eat. If it is not at 165---remove the thermometer and place food back in oven to continue to bake. Test in another 5 minutes.
Your SP Registered Dietitian
If all else fails throw the veggies in a blender with water and voila... fresh vegetable juice! Thats what I do because although I can cook I'd rather be doing about a hundred other things. I usually go on a big shopping trip for fresh vegetables, cut them up and freeze them in plastic baggies for ready-made servings. I occasionally have to google to find things out (Can I put beet greens in my juice? etc) but its pretty easy.
I second the suggestion of "How to Cook Everything" by Bittman. I have it in app form on my iPad and not only does it have recipes for every basic food you can think of, it also has tutorials on knife skills, choosing vegetables and meat, and different cooking techniques (pan fry vs saute vs roast etc).
The other book would be "Joy of Cooking." It's been around for 70+ years for a reason: it's a good basic cookbook that will teach you a lot about what you're eating and how to get the best bang for your buck. Best of luck!
When it comes to cooking, there's no substitute for experience. I'd say as the major thing, just let go of perfectionism and be willing to take your best guesses where you need to. Stuff may come out less than ideal, but it's usually edible. (This from my own personal experience as a willing but less than talented cook who also doesn't do it often enough to develop any consistency. My husband is the big cook in the family.) You learn from where you went wrong. (Too mushy? Don't cook it so long next time. Try that, and it still doesn't come out good? Ditch the recipe and try another cooking technique. And so on.) Focus on single-veggie recipes to start with maybe, as you'll run into fewer issues with trying to get multiple different types of foods to done-ness at the same time; or do stews and soups where it's almost impossible to screw it up anyway. Maybe scour the web for ideas instead of cookbooks: vegetarian and vegan recipe websites have huge numbers of recipes for any vegetable you can imagine, and since the recipes are coming in from 'real people' are often less self-consciously fancy or complex than you'd find in a cookbook.
"how you know what the classification is for the perfect summer squash, what its supposed to look like and feel like, or with kale what parts I'm supposed to use and eat. I mean, I break into sweats when a cookbook gets too basic with its info like, "cook until set" or "cook until firm"--well, what does that mean? I've tried to make basic veggies as a side dish the way my favorite Chinese place in the mall has done (veggies, cornstarch, pepper--simple), but do I use fresh or can I use frozen? how does that impact the veggies? how can I avoid making it a soggy mess (being its their recipe, I can't just up and ask them, it wouldn't be nice)"
Summer squash -- generally smaller is better, look for ones that are 5-7 inches long in the store and not too bulky. If they get too big, the texture goes tough and they are more bitter and with less of that delicate sweetness. Inspect for symptoms of going bad like you would any vegetable: discoloration, soft spots. When cooking, you can peel the skin or leave it on as you prefer -- it does obviously have a different texture and taste, so figure out what you like.
Kale -- you can use it all. The stems are very tough, though, so what we generally do is cut them out, chop the leaves, and then cook with that. I like it best in stew-like dishes or in soups where it gets a good long time to soften up and mix with other flavors, but there are many ways to cook it. We save the stems and either chuck them whole into something later on (intending to fish them out at the end of cooking) or chop them up very fine and use them that way. Once tomato season hits I expect a lot of kale bits will be finding their way into my spaghetti sauce. :)
Stir-fries in my experience don't work well with frozen vegetables. The idea is to cook the veggies quite briefly with substantial oil on very high heat. That way they cook just enough not to be raw, but retain a whole lot of sweetness and crunch. Frozen vegetables are ... not crunchy. That said, if you're adding something to a dish cooked that way that comes in really little pieces (peas, for instance, or corn kernels) it can be fine to use frozen. Mostly we use frozen vegetables in soups/stews/casseroles where the softness they come out of the bag with is not a detriment.
Hope that helps.
Height 5'8 1/2"
CW: 141.0 Woohoo!
5K 4/21/11: 31:55
try checking out the starving students vegetarian cookbook from the library if bittman's how to cook everything is a little over your head yet. it was designed with the idea that you not only don't know a pot from a pan, but don't yet have either of them or a real stove to cook on.
my single person rule for not wasting is that i won't buy fresh vegetables unless i can think of three things to use them in and that i know i have time to cook coming up this week. if i can't think of multiple things to use them in, they don't go in my basket. i can always come back when i know three things that i could make with them. beyond that, frozen is a good alternative. about a minute in the microwave will get you a serving of veggies.
since you're probably never going to master the chinese veggie dish as well the restaurant, do ask. say "when i try and make this at home, this is what happens. what's the trick to getting it like you make it?" they'll likely give you tips on the really basic stuff. one of my local places makes fake squid out of yams and they will give you an overview of how you do it if you ask them. some stuff is likely proprietary and they won't share that, but enough of the basics is fine to ask about.
make sure you're reading the front of the cookbooks, not just the recipe parts. the front is where terms are often explained and tips like what you're asking for. besides starving students and mark bittman, i love robin robertson as a cookbook author. she includes plenty of notes in the front and in the actual recipes for things that are a little more complicated or unusual plus she offers substitutions for rarer ingredients. and, though i don't particularly love the cookbook, the passionate vegetarian by crescent dragonwagon has a little more detailed info on vegetables and how to choose them. it is a huge book though.
i'll also share how my mom and i like zucchini. she likes hers cooked to what i think of as about the consistency of tapioca. i think it's unpleasantly mushy because i prefer my zucchini cooked for about 30 seconds, which means it's basically raw. neither of these ways are wrong, but most people probably prefer zucchini somewhere between the two. if you like your veggies mushy, that's the way you should cook them. if you prefer them raw, have them raw. so long as you aren't going to open a restaurant or have gordon ramsay over for dinner you only have yourself to please. and if you aren't sure whether or not you like something raw, take a bite of it. then cook it and take another bite. if it's still too firm, cook it more. white potatoes are the only veggie i can think of that you really shouldn't eat a lot of raw, and that's fine in bites here and there [hasn't killed me yet and i am frequently too impatient to chop them all the same size and cook the bigger pieces all the way]. eggplant may also be rough raw.
and when you make mistakes, make a note of it. so when you try and make chinese veggies again you know to either drain and reserve the liquid they are cooking in [in case you might need more liquid later, though it's fine to start tossing it if you don't use it] or to cook them until the liquid is gone.
-google first. ask questions later.
No ideas for cookbooks, sorry. In english at least. Andreas Viestad has one in norwegian that fits the bill "Hvordan koke vann" ("How to boil water"), it does not only address veggies, it addressees cooking in general on a molecular level, and is a really interesting read.
Don't be intimidated by the veggies though. Just go for it! Better have a failed experiment go in the bin, if the veggies are going to end up there anyways! My tip is, don't cook them too long or hard, or in too much water. Undercooked will almost always taste better than overcooked mushy anything. Always remember salt, either in the form or crystals, butter or soy sauce.
And don't be afraid to ask for the recipe. Most chefs will take it as a huge compliment. I worked at a restaurant for years, and though no guest ever got our written recipes (they are secret), they would at least get to know all ingredients and also a little bit about the hows and whys if they asked. My guess is their veggies have more to them than just veg, pepper and cornstarch. There will likely be cooking oil in there, and most likely soy sauce, and perhaps some sesame oil and other condiments. (Hp sauce and Tabasco sauce are often used at Chinese restaurants where I live.)
My personal favorite right now is sauteing veggies in coconut oil. It's very easy, don't be afraid to try it. Just slice different veggies in similar sizes/slices. (For instance; carrots, onion, celery, red peppers, green beans and bok choy.) Heat the oil (not too high! Especially if you plan to add garlic of other spices in the beginning. Burnt garlic is not pleasant.) and add the veggies starting with the firmest/densest. For me this usually are the carrot slices. I like my beans to be al dente, so I add them last with the leaves of the bok choy. Toss them around a bit until they have a consistency you like. (taste along the way.)
Season to taste (Salt and pepper is basic. Sesame oil adds some smokyness and depth, as will soy sauce.) Lemon/Orange zest or juice often lifts the flavor of any veggie dish.
Garlic, cumin seeds, ginger, and/or chilies will add some bite, but don't add these in the end, add them while you heat the oil in the beginning.
How to Cook Everything is my favorite "go to" cookbook. He has a vegetarian one too. Mark Bittman is the author and he writes for a paper as well.
I think the simplest is to start with one vegetable. For example - greenbeans. You can buy French green beans frozen. They are one of the few vegetables that hold up well to freezing and you can get them easily year round.
To cook them alone, I simply put them in a pot with two tablespoons of water, a pat of butter (the smallest amount and I add more as needed.
With vegetables you need to taste as they cook. So every once in awhile stir and pull one out and taste it. If it's cold it needs to cook longer. If it's how but too firm for you, cook a little longer. Just don't walk away! Sprinkle with a little salt and taste again. It they seem dry add a little more butter.
So now you know how to make plain green beans. The next step is to experiment with flavor. Maybe you want Asian style - instead of butter use a very small amount of sesame oil. Or maybe you add diced Italian tomatoes. Sometimes I add a little garlic and slivered onion.
I do frozen corn the same way.
Another simple vegetable are fresh broccoli and cauliflower. To cook broccoli I rinse and then cut into bite sized pieces and put them in a glass dish with a lid. I cook in the microwave for 3 minutes, wait a minute or two and taste. I like mine more firm and not mushy so sometimes I cook it another minute or so.
For cauliflower I break off all leaves and trim the stem. I put the whole thing in the glass dish with lid after rinsing and cook it the same way. It takes a little longer. I cut it into wedges after. Some people cut it up first but I found that the flower part gets too soft and the stem too hard.
Just start one veggie at a time!
1st Goal: 18lbs by June 1 - Met goal on 4/28
2nd Goal: Onederland by July 31
I'm trying to eat healthier, but the appeal of going somewhere for food is high (and digging into my wallet big time), though I do end up with a lot of subway in my diet lately.
Regardless, the main reason is though I'm getting some veggies in, I haven't made it a habit. as much as I love the sandwiches and change things around, Subway is limited and is getting boring to me. The big problem is I don't really know how to handle veggies--I'm tempted to try recipes or even prepare them simply as the main courses (at least, that's the intent when I buy them), but they sit in my fridge and I end up throwing them out most of the time as squirrel food.
I realized that I need a basics course on fruits and veggies to help me out (I hate canned and will leave it on the shelf forever). I've got cookbooks out the wazoo, but they don't help me when it comes to how you know what the classification is for the perfect summer squash, what its supposed to look like and feel like, or with kale what parts I'm supposed to use and eat. I mean, I break into sweats when a cookbook gets too basic with its info like, "cook until set" or "cook until firm"--well, what does that mean? I've tried to make basic veggies as a side dish the way my favorite Chinese place in the mall has done (veggies, cornstarch, pepper--simple), but do I use fresh or can I use frozen? how does that impact the veggies? how can I avoid making it a soggy mess (being its their recipe, I can't just up and ask them, it wouldn't be nice)
Do you guys know of any books out there that aren't cookbooks, but instead tell you the basics of veggies and fruit, and with a cooking style what the end result is supposed to be like as far as texture and ability to keep it as leftovers, stuff like that? I mean, I'd feel less intimidated if I knew I hadn't overcooked the hell out of something because the directions make the assumption I know what I'm doing. This is the biggest obstacle to me not eating healthy at home, because I don't know how its supposed to turn out. I want to eat healthier at home, but until I find this out, i'll be eating out far too much in vain attempts to try and eat right and go broke at the same time.
"This is a revolution, dammit--we're going to have to offend SOMEBODY!"--William Daniels as John Adams, "1776".
"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"--Adm. David G. Farragut.