Friday, March 7, 2014

Raw vs. Cooked Veggies

To Cook, or Not to Cook? That is the Question

So far you may be incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, but are you reaping all of the benefits? For awhile, I thought that all fruits and vegetables provided the best vitamins when they were eaten raw, but, I found out not that long ago, that this isn't the case for all produce!

Here are a few of the benefits you can get from cooking your produce & from eating it raw:

1) Tomatoes:

I personally prefer my tomatoes cooked, which provides me with more cancer-fighting lycopene. You can add crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce to stews and spaghetti sauce, or this amazing recipe:

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients & Preparation: 6 4oz chicken breasts 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces 1 medium onion, cut into wedges 26 ounces of organic tomato sauce 12 ounces box of whole wheat rotini pasta
Place the first 3 ingredients in a slow cooker. Pour in the sauces. Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Prepare the pasta as shown on the box directions. Serve 1 cup of chicken mixture over 1 cup of pasta.

You can get more recipes like the one above, check out this link to learn more.

2) Zucchini:

This is another fruit (although used mainly like a vegetable), that I prefer cooked. When zucchini is cooked it provides more beta-carotene, which is a building block for vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to build strong teeth and bones. Cooked carrots and sweet potatoes are other good sources of beta-carotene.Try not to over cook them, or you will actually lose more beta-carotene! Lightly steaming vegetables is best. I know you can't do that with sweet potatoes, unless you thinly slice them.

3) Spinach:

I don't eat as many salads as I should. I guess all the chewing of the healthy green stuff bores me out! On the other hand, I use salsa as a substitute for salad dressing, so it helps to spice things up a bit! Guacamole or just plain old avocado are other favorite things that add flavor to salad. Spinach is a vegetable that is great to eat raw and cooked. Raw spinach provides more vitamin C helps collagen production, can help lower blood pressure, antihistamine, and the list goes on. Raw spinach also provide folate, which helps in repairing and making new cells.
Cooked spinach provides more calcium and zinc, which helps with the immune system, digestion, acne, and wounds. Here's a spinach-packed smoothie to get your day started!

Greenberry Shakeology is packed with spinach that has been minimally processed, but if you don't have Shakeology, you can try this smoothie:

Popeye Smoothie

Ingredients: 2 cups spinach, 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, or low-fat yogurt, 1 small banana, 1 cup strawberries (or other fruit), 1 tsp. nut butter, 1 Tbsp. honey (or 1/2 Tbsp. agave), 2 Tbsp. ground almonds
Blend in a blender. It may be a little chunky, so you can strain it with cheese cloth, but then you're losing the fiber (which aids in weight-loss!)!

4) Bell peppers:

Green peppers give you more vitamin B when eaten raw. B Vitamins are antioxidants, which neutralize cancer-causing free radials. Raw red bell peppers give you a ton of vitamins!

5) Garlic:

Now, I LOOOOOOVE my garlic! Unfortunately, garlic is best eaten raw!!!? It's antimicrobial power is diminished by cooking, so try mixing it in a vinaigrette, mixed in a cold pasta salad, or even added to spaghetti after the sauce or noodles have been removed from the heat.

How do you prepare your favorite vegetables? 

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