Eating your greens can be complicated.
How you prepare your veggies is an important factor in how much nutrients they’ll provide. Without knowing, you may be destroying the nutrients you’re trying to gain.
Here are ten common mistakes that make your veggies less healthy.
1.You Only Eat Raw Veggies
Eating raw vegetables is great, but some veggies become more nutritious after they’ve been cooked. These include tomatoes and carrots (1).
If you can, avoid baking, frying or barbecuing your vegetable at high temperatures. Instead, try sautéing or steaming them until they’ve changed color but aren’t too soft.
What To Eat Cooked
What To Eat Raw
- Red Peppers
2. You Don’t Soak Or Wash Them
Organic veggies can still have traces of dirt and bugs. Non-organic veggies are often covered in pesticides. This method won’t get rid of all the pesticides, but they’ll be a lot less of them on your plate.
After peeling and cutting your vegetables, let them soak in water for 15-20 minutes. You can add vinegar or baking soda for a deeper clean. Once they’ve done their time, rinse under running water and cook.
3. You’re Juicing Away
Juicing is a great way to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins you need. However, veggies are also full of dietary fiber, which helps with digestion, makes you feel full and keeps you regular.
Rather than throwing out the fibrous pulp that’s left from juicing, keep it for baking. It makes a great addition to muffins and tea cakes. You can also swap juices for smoothies to make sure you don’t miss out on your fiber.
4. You’re Not Pairing Veggies With Fats
Lots of vitamins are fat-soluble. This means that they need fat to be processed by your body. These vitamins include vitamin A, D, E, F and K (2).
Try eating avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, seeds and nuts with your veggies. They work great in raw or cooked salads.
5. You’re Not Trying Different Colored Foods
Veggies are so much more than just leafy greens.
Eating a whole rainbow of colours will give you important phytonutrients like lutein, lycopene, flavonoids and tannins (3). These help your body prevent heart disease and cancer.
6. You’re Not Freezing Your Veggies
Fresh is best when it comes to most veggies. This is especially true if you purchase food from farmer’s markets or grow your own.
However, when vegetables are left in the fridge too long, their nutrients fade. You can avoid this by washing, cutting and freezing fresh produce at the beginning of the week. Simply defrost them in the fridge 24 hours before use.
7. You’re Storing Your Lettuce improperly
When you tear lettuce apart, phytonutrients are produce by your vegetable as a natural defense mechanism (4). Recent studies suggest that it may even double the amount of antioxidants in your food.
To make the most of this fact, prep the salad you’ll eat for dinner or lunch the morning of.
8. You’re Drizzling Processed Dressing On Your Greens
Most salad dressings at the grocery store are full of preservatives, sugar, sodium and other questionable ingredients. The worst contenders are labeled “fat-free” or “low calorie”.
Try making your own salad dressing instead. You’ll know exactly what it’s made and it’ll taste exactly how you like it.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe
(Makes About 1 Cup)
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- Salt (to taste)
- Fresh-ground pepper (to taste)
- Combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a jar with a tight lid.
- Add a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Put on the lid and shake.
- Taste and adjust the salt, pepper or other ingredients to taste.
- Store in refrigerator and shake before use
For an extra kick, try a spoonful of mustard, minced shallots, minced garlic, minced fresh herbs or spoonful of honey or brown sugar.
This recipe should stay fresh for a few weeks depending on the ingredients used.
9. You’re Not Letting Garlic Rest
Garlic contains a powerful compound called allicin. The enzyme that creates it is activated once the cell walls of your garlic have been crushed or chopped.
To get the most benefits from your bulb, let it sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking.
10. You’re Not Letting Potatoes Cool Down
Potatoes contain simple sugars that cause your insulin levels to spike after a meal.
24 hours after cooking, the starch (or sugars) is converted to be digested much slower (5).
If you’re on a low glycemic index diet, cook your potatoes the day before you want to eat them and store them in your fridge.