Cook or not to Cook

Island Epicure


That is the vegetable nutrition question. Some vegetables, carrots for instance, yield us more of their vitamins and minerals when we boil, fry, bake, or grill them. Others lose nutrients to the cooking water when we cook them. That’s fine if we’re making soups or stews, but not even an option when summer’s high temperatures make my small kitchen feel like an oven without anyone  turning on a burner, let alone the oven.

One summer many decades ago when my husband was stationed in Texas and I got to join him, I’d get up at dawn, wash a load of clothes, cook something for supper  that could be eaten cold or briefly rewarmed at suppertime, or make a high-protein salad and stow it in the fridge. Once the clothes were drying outside in the scorching sun, and supper chilling, I was free to spend the rest of the day sitting on the cool kitchen floor sipping iced tea.
It’s good to know the vegetables that actually give you more nourishment if eaten raw or cooked very lightly.  Beets boost your brain best when eaten raw. You get more folate from them when not cooked.

Beet salad, 2 servings: Wash, peel, and slice a whole raw beet. Grate in a food processor, sprinkle it with vinegar and oil. Serve it in 2 lettuce leaf cups.

For a light lunch,  present  crudites and dips, along with a platter of cold cuts, a hearty whole-grain bread such as Bavarian rye or pumpernickle, and real organic butter from pastured cows.

For a beverage to cool off with, our refrigerator holds lemonade, coconut milk, almond milk and 4 percent cream cow milk, papaya nectar, and pomegranate juice, not all at the same time–our fridge isn’t that large. The pomegranate juice is too strong to drink straight. I put two or three ounces into a glass and fill it the rest of the way up with filtered water. I credit pomegranate juice with keeping my arteries clear.

Crudites: Cherry or grape tomatoes, strips of bell peppers, celery sticks or pieces stuffed with goat cheese or peanut butter, and carrot sticks.

Dip A: 1 cup sour cream combined with 1 Tbsp. minced parsley, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon curry powder, and a dash of paprika.

Dip B: Hummus – 1 can garbanzos (drain and save the liquid to be added back as needed), 1/3 cup tahini, ⅜ cup lemon juice, 1  garlic clove, pressed, 1 tablespoons sliced black olives. Combine in blender or food processor to a smooth paste. Makes about 1 1/4 cups. Double the recipe to serve 4.

Tomatoes, always delicious just sliced and topped with minced parsley for a simple French salad, give you more of their anti-cancer lycopene when cooked. This salad of protein-rich beans can be served cold or heated for a main dish.

Red Bean Salad:  Combine in a 2-cup bowl: 1 15.5-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained; 2 green onions, sliced; 1/2 cup canned diced tomato, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ! Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice. Males 3 servings as is or 4 if served on lettuce leaves.