There is no doubt regarding the high nutritional value and health benefits of vegetables. While raw vegetables are considered the healthiest; steaming is a method of cooking, which retains most of the nutrients. Some people may find it difficult to digest raw vegetables. So, steaming is the best way to enjoy a wide range of food items, without losing their nutritional value.
Steam from boiling water is used in this method of cooking. Steaming locks in the flavor, color, and nutrients of the vegetable. While steaming, the food does not come into direct contact with water, as boiling reduces its color and nutritional value. Studies show that folate and vitamin C are the most affected nutrients, during cooking. As compared to raw vegetables, steamed ones have 15% less folate and vitamin C. In case of boiling, the reduction in folate level is around 35%, and the level of vitamin C drops by 25%.
Methods for Steaming Vegetables
Stovetop Method: For this purpose, you need the vegetables of your choice and a steamer. The traditional method of steaming involves a large pot of boiling water on a stove top. The vegetables are steamed in a steamer basket or a colander, that fits inside the pot, in such a manner, that it barely touches the water surface. The vegetables, which are cleaned and cut, are placed in the colander or basket, and the pot is covered with a loose-fitting lid. This lid allows some steam to escape. The vegetables are removed, when they get cooked. You can also use a steamer made of bamboo or metal, for this purpose. The cooking time may vary with the type of vegetable.
Microwave Method: Cut the cleaned vegetables into small pieces, and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add two to three tablespoons of water to the bowl. Most of the vegetables need a little bit of water, but denser ones, like carrots need slightly more. Cover the bowl with a foil or a microwave-safe cover, leaving a small hole as a vent. You may also use plastic wrap to cover the bowl, but leave a corner open as a vent. It takes around five minutes for steaming vegetables in a microwave (on high), but you can increase or reduce the cooking time as per the type of vegetable and the desired cooking level. The steaming time for some of the common vegetables are given in the following table.
|Vegetable||Stovetop Steaming Time||Microwave Steaming Time|
|Asparagus||7 to 9 minutes||4 to 5 minutes|
|Broccoli||8 to 12 minutes||6 to 7 minutes|
|Brussels Sprouts||Around 10 minutes||7 minutes|
|Sliced Carrots (¼ inch thickness)||8 to 10 minutes||5 minutes|
|Cauliflower Florets||6 to 8 minutes||3 to 5 minutes|
|Green Beans||5 to 12 minutes||6 to 10 minutes|
|Peas||3 minutes||2 to 3 minutes|
|Zucchini||7 to 10 minutes||6 to 8 minutes|
|Potatoes (whole)||10 to 25 minutes||6 to 8 minutes|
|Potatoes (cut)||10 to 12 minutes||7 to 9 minutes|
The steaming time may vary with the type of vegetable, their size, the power of microwave, and the desired level of cooking. The calorific value of steamed vegetables depends on the type of the vegetables used, the amount of consumption, and the type of dressing. A cup of steamed vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, carrots, mushroom, cabbage, green beans, and celery) amounts to 30 calories.