(Un)Cooking Vegetables for Optimal Nutrition
(Un)Cooking Vegetables for Optimal Nutrition
Health is wealth! Do you agree? (We do.)
Most health professionals will confirm that diet and lifestyle are some of the most important factors in deciding your health. Here at Moon Valley Farm we LOVE growing nutritious vegetables that support the health of our community—for you (and for us). Did you know that one of the best ways to get more nutrition in your diet is to eat raw foods? That’s right! Not only do raw foods taste great, they’re also chock-full of nutrition!
So, what’s special about raw foods, and specifically raw vegetables? Well, while not all vegetables can be eaten raw, many of them have a number of vitamins and nutrients that are best preserved in their raw, whole food state; and these nutrients can change greatly when they are cooked. Some of the benefits you can gain from eating raw vegetables include antioxidants, prebiotics and digestive enzymes. Read on to find out some of our favorite ways to incorporate raw foods into our diets at home!
Sprouting is a fairly simple process that can help boost nutrition in some of your favorite foods. Many herbs, legumes and brassicas are excellent for sprouting. The most common sprouts are alfalfa, radish, broccoli, sunflower, mung bean and lentil (although we also love fenugreek, cilantro and many others!). It can be as simple as getting organic, food-grade sprouting seeds, a mason jar and some sprouting lids (easily found online). It’s key to keep your sprouting area and utensils extremely clean. There are many useful guides online and in books. We recommend due diligence any time you're growing veggies at home.
Do you have a dehydrator? If not it might be time to get one. These easy-to-use appliances are affordable, and end up paying for themselves! Dehydrators let you preserve food without actually cooking it, meaning the nutrition inherent in your food products can remain relatively unchanged throughout the process. Dehydrating simply removes moisture from food slowly and steadily, until it’s dry enough to be shelf stable. You can use this with everything from fruit to vegetables, and even meats (think jerky). Not to mention that dehydrating lets you create tasty veggie chips, soup mixes, fruit roll-ups and raw cookies! Check out all the recipes out there and you’ll start to understand how much a dehydrator (and raw foods) can change your kitchen.
Savory Raw Soups
When we first came across “Raw: The Uncook Book: New Vegetarian Food for Life” by Erika Lenkert and Juliano Brotman we were simply put...blown away. Books like these really show you the potential of what can be done with raw food. One of our favorites from the book is theFiery Lava Soup, a concoction of carrot juice elegantly blended with chilis, herbs, avocado and spices. It’s like over-the-top carrot soup, meets bright fresh Thai food, with a hint of guacamole-like creaminess. Of course, it’s important to remember that raw food soup options don’t stop there. Think traditional gazpacho, watermelon gazpacho and even raw borscht. These healthful soups typically only require a juicer and a blender. Who needs to cook anyways?
Maybe you’ve been juicing since...forever. Maybe you juiced yesterday. Maybe you’ve never tried it! Either way, fresh-pressed juices can be a fantastic way to gain nutrition in your everyday life! Juicers break down the cell wall of vegetables and fruits, allowing the nutrients within to be readily available for consumption. Most experts agree that juices should be consumed as soon as possible after being made. Once exposed to oxygen after being juiced, certain nutrients can rapidly change and break down. This is in part due to the increased surface area since the nutrients are no longer enmeshed in, and protected by the cellulose in the plant. We love juicing carrots, apples, citrus, tropical fruits, beets and cucumbers. What about add-ons? Our recommendation: ginger, turmeric, garlic, celery, lettuce and chilis.
Rabbit food? We think not! Salads can be some of the most satisfying meals on the planet, and are often packed with raw foods. You don’t have to just stick to lettuce and dressing though! Break out the cheese grater (or better yet a food processor!) and go to town shredding up carrots, apples, beets, cucumbers and whatever else you like eating raw. Sprinkle your shredded vegetables on top of your favorite greens, add some raw seeds or nuts, toss in some vinaigrette and voila! There’s no shortage of salad inspiration online and in cookbooks. Salads can literally take on the characteristic of almost any cuisine, from Chinese to French, and American to Polynesian. Don’t let yourself or your salads down!
Oh yeah. Slaws are simple—and they keep great in the fridge! Whip up a delicious batch on the weekend for weekday nibbles that get tastier each day. They may not last long though (you might just polish them off). We recommend a base of cabbage, kale, collard greens or brussel sprouts—the thick leaves of these brassicas work well marinating in a slaw. Don’t stop there though! You can add in root veggies like carrots, winter radish, beets or even salad turnips. Dried fruits work wonderfully in slaws—they plump as they marinade, and add sweetness not to mention textural contrast and added nutrition.
So, whether you go all out and dehydrate fruits to use in your own homemade slaws, or juice veggies to make your own salad vinaigrettes; or simply try a few ideas mentioned above, we’re sure you will continue to fall in love with raw veggies just like we do every day! How do you do raw? Let us know on Facebook and Instagram !
RECIPE of the WEEK:
Homemade Mushroom Burgers
Vegan Mushroom Patties
1 pound fresh button mushrooms
1 red onion
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
canola oil for brushing the tops
1/4 cup mango chutney
1 cup arugula
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
Clean the mushrooms and cut them in half. Cook them in a pan without oil on medium to high heat until they are soft. Set aside and let them cool off a bit.
Peel and cut the red onion in rings. Slowly caramelize the red onion in a pan while adding bits of water when it starts to stick to the pan.
Transfer the cooked mushrooms and about 1/3 of the caramelized onions to the food processor. Add sunflower seeds, oats, breadcrumbs, fresh dill, and salt. Process until combined. You should be able to form 6 patties. If the mixture is too crumbly add tiny splashes of water, if it's too sticky add more breadcrumbs.
Place the mushroom patties on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Spray or brush them with oil. Bake the patties in the oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping them once halfway through. They should be slightly browned.
Assemble your burgers: Slice the pretzel buns open, add fresh arugula, the mushroom patty, spread mango chutney on top and add leftover caramelized onions. Enjoy!
These patties are great for freezing! Layer them between small sheets of parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together. Let them thaw after taking them out of the freezer and reheat in a pan with a little bit of oil.