First of all, I’d like to mention that spring is here in the Southern Hemisphere, the blossoms have been blooming beautifully around where I live. It’s time to plant your rhubarb, strawberries, and collect your bountiful overwintered harvests! i.e. kale, broccoli.
On an unrelated matter, I’ve been so lazy lately that I’ve been cooking my vegetables(at least I’m not defrosting frozen dinners) with a steamer everyday for the past week. The steamer is pretty worn out right now.
However, steaming vegetables regularly for the past days have made me realize, what a low-fat, convenient and delicious way of cooking steaming is. It beats other methods of cooking food in many different ways;
1. Steaming vs oven-baking: Steaming doesn’t leave food dried but moist through the hot steams which serves to cook the food. It also cooks about twice as fast as the oven i.e. fish fillet for 30 minutes in oven = 15 minutes with steamer. Steaming is sort of like oven-baking, as in you put everything together on dish then chuck it in the ‘cooker’ but requires zero oil. Great news for fat-phobics!
2. Steaming vs pan-frying: Once again, steaming is the much quicker way of cooking. It doesn’t require excessive amounts of oil to cook, or in front of stove watching time + stirring. You can just simply boil the water up on high heat, put the food you wish to cook on a plate/straight on to the steamer/in foil into the steamer, season with whatever you pleases, cover the steamer with the lid(lower the steamer to medium-high), then go do whatever you want while it cooks your favourite dish up for you! Loyal steely friend.
3. Steaming vs boiling: When you boil veggies i.e. cabbages, carrots, etc. the water left in the pot is often thrown away(or by all means, slurp up the residue-y veggie water). But with steaming(if you arrange your veggies on a plate/foil) the nutrients are sealed within the vegetables or otherwise trapped in the scant amount of water that collects on your plate.
4. Steaming doesn’t require any cooking skills whatsoever. All you need to know is how to chop up/cut up veggies or other food things, and boil water(Great for healthy, low-fat, college living!) Or if you’re lazy enough like me, learn how to break vegetables into nice, even pieces with bare hands. I do this with bok-choy, shanghai vegetable, mushrooms(mushrooms a bit mushy to keep symmetrical). As long as they aren’t too disproportioned, I’m all-goods with them.
Examples of steamed veggies I whip up….
Delicious brussels sprouts. Similar nutritional properties to broccolis(same brassica family); antioxidants and all that jazz. Unfortunately, you do need to spare about 5 seconds(I’m not exaggerating, these are precise calculations) in slicing these brussels sprouts in half before chucking them onto a plate, into the steamer.
Steamed brussels sprouts recipe:
Wash 4-5 brussels sprouts. Cut them each in half on a chopping board. Steam on medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until soft(Jab with a fork, if they stick means they’re still not uncooked)
I eat the brussels sprouts unseasoned because they’re already sweet/flavourful enough for my taste buds(munch on these delicious nutrient-dense packages like carrots, celeries etc.)
*TIP: Brussels sprouts can also be sliced in half then chucked into the microwave for a few minutes, for a delicious, über quick and healthy + low calorie snack(mum’s Indian friend’s food idea, the owner of these healthy and easy Indian meals recipe: http://obsessivenutritioncompulsive.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/amazingly-simple-indian-curries-non-dairy-coconut-milk-vegetarian-and-low-fat-packet-mixes-away/) This makes for a quick, veggie snacks alternative to carrot or celery sticks. Mum’s friends’ kids love them.
Here is my current food craze; leeks(steamed with chopped cabbages). I just simply eat them on their own, unseasoned. I’d only bought them because they’ve been on sale lately at +$1.50 each(I’m a total frugal freak, my cheapskate radar picked them out) I’d never have thought of eating leeks as the ‘main veggies’ i.e. spinach, broccoli, as before I’d only used them as ‘seasoning veggies’ i.e. treated them like onions. Leeks are actually quite delicious, sweet, chewy, with a distinctive flavour. However, I personally haven’t seen many a ‘mainly leeks’ recipe before so not sure if there’s a dietary reason behind that… i.e. excessive consumption will lead to internal bleeding? Will need to write down on a post-it note to do a ‘Leeks nutrition’ research.
Back to the main point!
You may ask, is steaming simply restricted to savoury dishes? The answer is simply a big, fat(or skinny?) no.
Here are the abundance of foods you can make with steaming:
Steamed ‘zebra cake’ I made ages ago(cocoa and vanilla flavour). Sorry about the tissue in the background, probably was my brother’s. Here’s a more professional looking picture…
Doesn’t the cake just look exquisite and super moist?? Here’s the recipe: http://myhomediaryinturkey.blogspot.co.nz/2010/11/steam-zebra-cake-from-egg-white.html This cake is super low-fat and not too sweet(I still haven’t perfected a super-low sugar version of this cake, mostly because I became quasi-vegan and no longer eat eggs)
RICE or LEGUMES
Aren’t they just adorable? The rice are steamed in little serving pottles! Of course, I’d opt for uber healthy + low cal rice like wild rice or the ‘Korean rice’ (more here: http://obsessivenutritioncompulsive.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/food-pyramid-meals/) So instead of a rice cooker, one can opt for a steamer that is so versatile one can cook veggies/other food too. Also, rather than having to boil up beans and occasionally stirring, with steaming one can just soak the beans up as per usual then steam 15 minutes or its usual cooking time. A vegetarian/vegan’s bestie!
In summary, not only are steamers skinny girls’ best friend, they are also lazy-arses’, cheapskates’, and plant eaters’.
I’d say invest in a steamer, then forget about not having enough time to cook, and not knowing how to make low-fat, healthy food with little/no oil.
Here are different steamers out there:
A super fancy one for rich people wanting to eat healthily (P.S. Yes! You can also cook sweet potatoes etc. in the steamer, and VERY fast too i.e. about 10 minutes)
Super cheap bamboo ones from Asian supermarkets.
Kind of like my stainless steel one but slightly shinier.
As an irrelevant bonus, pictures from my spring harvests;
Broccoli shoots, kale, lettuce! I see lots of vitamin C and lutein playing around in there! Great for skin and eyes!
More lettuce! They just keep coming! I’ve only remembered to regularly pick leaves to encourage growth. Duh. I love backyard gardens. More here: http://obsessivenutritioncompulsive.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/my-slightly-mutated-vegetable-garden/