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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 September 18, 2020

                          7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                          7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                          Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

                          Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

                          1. Exercise Daily

                          It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

                          If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

                          Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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                          If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

                          2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

                          Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

                          One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

                          This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

                          3. Acknowledge Your Limits

                          Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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                          Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

                          Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

                          4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

                          Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

                          The basic nutritional advice includes:

                          • Eat unprocessed foods
                          • Eat more veggies
                          • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
                          • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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                          Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                            5. Watch Out for Travel

                            Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                            This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                            If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                            6. Start Slow

                            Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                            If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                            7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                            Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                            My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                            If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                            I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                            Final Thoughts

                            Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                            Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                            More Tips on Getting in Shape

                            Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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