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Top 10 Creative And Healthy Ways Of Cooking Fruits And Vegetables

Top 10 Creative And Healthy Ways Of Cooking Fruits And Vegetables

When we’re trying to stick to a healthy diet, it can definitely get boring. Another spinach salad? More raw cucumber? But eating healthy doesn’t mean you always have to stick to the same old stuff.

With these 10 creative ways to cook fruits and vegetables, you can make simple, refreshing dishes that are full of nutrients and health benefits. They taste so good that you won’t realize just how healthy they are!

1. Microwave them.

When most people think of the microwave, they think of easy-cook TV dinners and sodium-packed canned soup. But did you know that you can make healthy dishes in the microwave, too? You can cook nearly any vegetable in the microwave, but one of the easiest dishes to make is fresh carrots. Microwaved carrots are effortless and provide carotenoids that may reduce the risk of cancer and vitamin A that keeps eyes sharp.

Carrots

    Sweet Carrots

    Required ingredients: baby carrots, water, brown sugar, butter, white wine vinegar, salt

    Simply add the carrots and about 2 tablespoons of water to a bowl, cover it, and microwave for about five minutes (or until the carrots reach your desired tenderness). Drain the water, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and serve.

    2. Bake them.

    Baking is a great alternative to deep fried foods, as you can achieve the same level of crisp, delicious crunchiness without the grease and saturated fat from the deep fryer. One of the best recipes for a baked vegetable is baked avocado fries. These delicious fries have a crunchy shell and a creamy middle. The avocado provides many health benefits including fiber, B vitamins, folate, and healthy, cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats.

    Avocado

      Crispy Baked Avocado Fries

      Required ingredients: avocados, flour, eggs, chili powder, salt and pepper, panko bread crumbs, lemon juice

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      Cut the avocados into slices of whatever size you prefer. Dredge them in a mixture of flour and spices, then in the eggs, and then in panko bread crumbs. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes or until the fries are golden and crispy.

      3. Boil them.

      Boiling is a simple and healthy way of cooking fruits and vegetables, and it’s a great way to avoid adding fat or salt from oil and butter. It may sound boring, but you can make surprising dishes just with a little bit of boiling. This creative recipe Filipino twist on classic Japanese veggie sushi takes boiled rice and boiled vegetables and combines them into a healthy veggie sushi roll. The squash adds a fibrous dose of vitamin A and cancer-preventing carotenoids.

      Veggie

          Vegetable Sushi

          Required ingredients: rice, sugar, vinegar, squash, carrots, malunggay leaves, pechay Tagalog, salt and pepper

          This recipe calls for Filipino ingredients like malunggay leaves and pechay Tagalog, which can be substituted with bok choy or another nutritious leaf lettuce. Boil the rice, carrots, and squash separately. Cut the carrots into thin slices, and mash the squash with spices of your choice. Fill blanched bok choy leaves with the cooked rice, carrots, and squash, and roll into sushi-style hand rolls.

          4. Dehydrate them.

          Dehydration is another incredibly easy (and traditional) way to prepare fruits and vegetables. In addition to the nutrients from the all-natural fruits you choose, dehydrating requires no added sugars or preservatives. You get all of the health benefits of the fresh fruit but with a more concentrated flavor and longer shelf life.

          Fruit

            Homemade Dried Fruit

            Required ingredients: any fruit you like

            Wash and peel your selected fruit. For best results, choose a fruit that is just ripened and free from bruises or blemishes. Place the fruit on a baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch of space between them. Let them dry in an oven heated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, with the oven door ajar. Stir as needed, baking up to 8 hours until the fruit is lightly chewy.

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            5. Steam them in a slow cooker.

            Rice cookers aren’t just made for cooking rice! You can also steam vegetables in them easily; some rice cookers even come with a steaming basket and corresponding power setting. But why stop at plain steamed vegetables when you can make gourmet dishes like a frittata? This recipe provides healthy protein from the eggs and vitamins and minerals from the lightly sauteed vegetables.

            Veggie

                Rice Cooker Frittata with Summer Vegetables

                Required ingredients: garlic, bell peppers, potato, zucchini, olive oil, salt and pepper, eggs, cheese

                To prepare for steaming in the rice cooker, saute chopped vegetables with garlic and olive oil. Add the egg mixture and cheese to the rice cooker, and then stir in the lightly cooked vegetables. Set the rice cooker to the regular rice setting, and wait until the cooker indicates that it’s done. Enjoy!

                6. Slow-cook them.

                Slow-cooking is a great way to prepare almost any food, even fruit! It requires almost no preparation or attention, and you have total control over the ingredients and nutrition profile of your dishes. One surprising slow-cooker dish is apple sauce. In addition to the high fiber, apples are also particularly rich in quertecin, an antioxidant that research has shown to slow cell death. Homemade apple sauce is healthier than store-bought versions, too, since it’s free of preservatives and lower in sugar.

                Apple

                  Slow-cooked Apple Sauce

                  Required ingredients: apples, sugar, water, salt, cinnamon, butter, vanilla extract

                  Place the apples, sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon in a slow cooker, cooking them on low for about eight hours. Add the butter and vanilla extract, allow the sauce to cool, and enjoy.

                  7. Blanch them.

                  Blanching not only maximizes the health benefits by preserving the vitamins and minerals of fresh vegetables, but it also removes any bitterness and gives veggies a nice pop of color. To blanch any vegetable, simply place it in boiling water for a short time (usually around one minute), remove, and immediately place into an ice bath to cool.

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                  Green Beans

                    Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic

                    Required ingredients: green beans, garlic, olive oil, butter, red pepper flakes, lemon

                    Blanch the fresh green beans in a pot of salted water. Lightly heat butter with the garlic and spices, and the pour the sauce over the blanched green beans. Top with lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

                    8. Pickle them.

                    Pickles may not seem healthy right away, but fermentation actually increases the probiotic content of vegetables. Keep in mind that naturally fermented pickles (ones that are not based on vinegar) are much higher in probiotics than quick, vinegar-based pickles. Cucumbers may be the most commonly eaten pickled food, but beets are another great vegetable to pickle due to their high potassium, folate, and fiber.

                    Pickles

                      Fermented Beets with Ginger and Orange

                      Required ingredients: beets, fresh ginger, vegetable starter culture, orange, honey, pickling spice

                      Mix vegetable starter culture with honey, and pour over the beets, ginger, orange, and pickling spice in a mason jar. Add enough water to cover the vegetables, and allow them to ferment at room temperature for about one week.

                      9. Roast them.

                      Once an underappreciated food (and not just by children!), brussel sprouts have recently started to receive their due praise. High in vitamins C, A, and K, Brussel sprouts are also packed with antioxidants that help promote healthy blood flow.

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                      Brussel sprouts

                        Roasted Brussel Sprouts

                        Required ingredients: Brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper

                        Remove any brown or yellow parts from the Brussel sprouts, and mix them well with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast them on a sheet pan for about 40 minutes, stirring them as desired for even cooking.

                        10. Don’t cook them.

                        The easiest way to cook fruits and vegetables is, well, not cooking them! Eating raw foods preserves all of the natural vitamins and minerals in the ftuirs and vegetables and prevents the mess of pots and pans. Plus – eating raw isn’t just about baby carrots and hummus. This soup recipe is 100% raw, giving you all of the lutein, vitamin K, and iron of fresh spinach.

                        Spinach

                          Cream of Spinach Soup

                          Required ingredients: spinach leaves, cucumber, tomato, water, avocado, garlic, soy sauce, sea salt, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, olive oil

                          This recipe requires just one step: blend everything together in a food processor, and serve! Lightly heat the soup on the stove if you prefer a warmed version.

                          Need more healthy recipes? Try out these 8 recipes for a quick and effortless lunch.

                          Featured photo credit: Leonie Wise via unsplash.com

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                          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                          We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                          We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                          So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                          Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                          What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                          Boundaries are limits

                          —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                          Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                          Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                          Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                          Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                          How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                          Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                          1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                          Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                          You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                          To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                          You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                          • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                          • When do you feel disrespected?
                          • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                          • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                          • When do you want to be alone?
                          • How much space do you need?

                          You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                          2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                          Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                          Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                          3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                          Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                          That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                          Sample language:

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                          • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                          • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                          • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                          • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                          • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                          • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                          • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                          Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                          4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                          Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                          Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                          Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                          We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                          It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                          It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                          Final Thoughts

                          Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                          Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                          Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                          The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                          Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                          Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                          They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                          Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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