Fruits and Vegetables…Choosing Them and Cooking them Zesty Style!

coryHappy weekend, guys.

I’m here to introduce a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers and blog friends: Cory (aka Zestycook!). Cory’s blog is one of my very favorites. The premise of the blog is to present delicious and crowd-pleasing recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. Think sweet potato fries, sweet and savory toast toppings (talk about simple and delicious!), pineapple glazed ham, and cheese-stuffed burgers (yeah, you heard me right).

Though Cory’s blog is not — as Cory himself likes to jovially remind me — even a little bit raw or vegan, the blog is everything I look for in a food blog. It’s beautifully presented, passionate, informative, and it features simple recipes made with whole foods. So in spite of the fact that Cory and I eat very different diets, we value the same things: quick, fresh and feasible recipes for busy people who love good food. Delivered with a side of humor.

Cory’s chosen to discuss a topic I’ve been hoping to address for a while now: how to select and store veggies. In my work as a coach, I often find that the single most useful tips I give my clients are practical, rather than dietetic. For example: if a client has a fridge stocked with fresh vegetables, he or she will be far more likely to whip up vegetable-based meals. If he or she has a fridge full of wilting spinach, or no vegetables at all, my client will probably reach for the cereal box or the takeout number. For this reason, I like to urge clients to buy and replenish produce once or twice a week, and to store it properly. So take note, guys: having fresh, crisp vegetables on hand can be one of the most crucial steps to raw success.

On that note, I’ll turn the lesson over to my good friend, ZestyCook!

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Hi, Choosing Raw readers.  I am Zesty from Zestycook.com, and I am super excited to be here guest posting for Gena.  I love Gena’s writing and reading her posts, but I will forewarn you, my writing is not quite up to Gena’s, so bear with me. When I was trying to decide on a topic for Choosing Raw I immediately thought of fresh fruit and vegetables and ways to prepare them.  Then I thought it would be fun to answer a very common question… how do you blanch vegetables?

Fresh green vegetable, isolated over white

There is nothing tastier than fresh produce. And learning to cook with fresh ingredients will ensure that you will enjoy healthy and tasty meals. Whether you are buying produce from a grocery store or from a local farmers market, here are some tips on what to look for when buying fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Purchase fruit and vegetables that look and smell fresh. Look for produce that is not bruised or damaged. Over-handling the produce can cause damage and spoilage.

basket

oranges

  • Refrigeration keeps most fruits and vegetables from ripening. If you purchase unripe fruits or vegetables, place the fruit in a paper bag and close tightly. For certain vegetables and fruits such as avocados, it is best to just lay them on the counter until they are ripe.

Now onto blanching vegetables.

I get this question a fair bit, especially from the older folks who tend to boil the living daylights out of their vegetables.  They could use a lesson in blanching, a technique that’s excellent both for locking in nutritional and for keeping the vegetables slightly firmer and with more texture.  I, for one, prefer a slightly undercooked carrot than a waterlogged boiled carrot.

carrot

So follow the simple steps below to blanch your next batch of vegetables.

How to Blanch Vegetables

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add enough salt so the water tastes faintly salty.

2. While the water heats, fill a medium bowl about 3/4 full with ice, then add enough cold water to come just to the top of the ice.

3. When the water is boiling and the ice bath is ready, trim the vegetables to your desired size. It’s best to trim them just prior to cooking so that they won’t oxidize or dehydrate.

4. Add the vegetables to the boiling water in batches small enough to ensure that the water doesn’t lose its boil.  This is crucial, as you don’t want to have to wait for the water to come up to a boil again and cause the vegetables to over cook.

5. Boil the vegetables only until they’re barely cooked through but still tender. To test, remove one piece with a slotted spoon, dip it into the ice bath to cool, and eat it.

6. As soon as the vegetables are done, quickly remove and submerge them in the ice bath.

7. Remove them from the ice bath as soon as they are no longer warm.  Note that if you plan on eating the vegetables right away you can avoid the ice bath and just EAT.

8. To reheat the vegetables, you can use any cooking method you wish, such as sauteing, grilling, or boiling; just make sure to barely heat them up and not to cook them again.  This is also an excellent way to freeze vegetables and then use them in stir fry’s or cooked salads.

Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please let Gena know — and if you want to see more Zesty, just head over here and check it out.  I would be happy to have you!

Take care,

Zesty

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks, Zest! I’m sure my readers will find these tips immensely helpful.

I should add that blanching (along with lightly steaming) is one of the cooking techniques that many raw foodists — even hardcore ones — continue to employ in their food preparation, as it’s gentle enough to preserve a high portion of nutrient content in vegetables. It can be particularly useful when cooking firm veggies (like carrots or beets) for guests who aren’t quite ready to embrace them in the raw. It’s also a nice way of enjoying food that’s warm, yet still nutrient-rich, in the winter.

Hope you’re all enjoying a good weekend. I’ll be back this week with a recipe, a question of the week, and a Choosing Raw interview!

xo

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. Visit my privacy policy to learn more.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    12 Comments
  1. Me and my friend were arguing about an issue similar to this! Now I know that I was right. lol! Thanks for the information you post.

  2. Great post. I eat a high raw diet, but I do still enjoy lightly steamed broccoli and brussel sprouts.

    Your pictures are gorgeous! Just looking at them makes me want to go eat some fresh produce:-)

  3. Ya know, I kind of feel like an idiot… but I guess I never really did know what “blanching” meant. I’ve always been a steamer, myself.

    Thanks a lot Zesty! And thank you Gena for hosting!

  4. Thanks, Gena and Zesty! I really appreciated this post and am thinking of sending it on to a certain family member of mine who always boils the heck of veggies until they are unrecognizable. Drives me insane. Love the ice bath trick, I’ll definitely use that next time. Love both of your blogs! 🙂

  5. Thanks for the blanching post….I have a question, well, I guess comment. I know that some people don’t like microwaves. I don’t like the micro either either but I use it as a tool for 30-45 seconds to soften veggies like broccoli or brussels sprouts so they are not totally raw. In this sense I guess I am “blanching”, not in the true sense, but breaking down the proteins so the veggie is easier to eat for my tastes. I’d love to hear your opinion of cooking a single-serve portion of veggies if one is pressed for time….Is the micro ok or would you say, get that pot ‘o water ready, and the ice bath, and blanch old-school style? I’m a busy mom of a 2.5 yr old, wife, worker, etc and so I opt for fast-n-easy and use the micro rather than blanch. Thoughts appreciated!
    Averie