“Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 81.
Vegetables are healthful and economical, and provide a wide variety of flavors, colors and textures. As we’ve long known, vegetables are an important part of our diets, providing essential nutrients and fiber and, in most cases, next to no fat and few calories. They also are cholesterol-free. And now the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Food Pyramid places vegetables in a central role in our diets, calling for three to five servings a day.
In the past, fat-laden cheese sauces, sloppy salad dressings, and deep fat-frying were used to make vegetables appealing to the pleasure-seeking fat sensors. Since vegetables are generally very low in fat, the trick is to keep them that way when preparing them for the table. Avoid excessive amounts of cooking fat by using nonstick pans, which allow you to sauté with minimal oil. To create the illusion of fat and to reduce the total calorie count, a variety of tasty vegan cheeses may be used. For creaminess without heavy cream, your favorite alternate milk or sauces may be thickened with a flour and zesty seasonings to replace the missing flavor of fat.
To preserve nutrients, avoid over-cooking vegetables. One of the easiest ways to cook them is to briefly plunge them into boiling water until they are just crisp-tender—the French call this blanching. An alternative to this is steaming.
To steam, the vegetable is placed in an open basket suspended above a small amount of boiling water in a tightly closed pot. The trapped steam (which is better than boiling water) cooks the vegetable. You can use a steamer insert designed to fit a particular pot or a collapsible stainless steel version that adjusts to fit any sized pan.