Most of us pay attention to the food we are buying but what is the point if all nutrients are lost in the cooking process. It is essential to choose the cooking method that will keep most vitamins and will not modify the molecules from the food.
Classic cooking methods destroy the nutrients present naturally in our food as a result of the high temperature used for cooking:
pressure cooker: 150˚C to 120˚C - 300˚F to 250˚F
frying pan: 150˚C to 350˚C - 300˚F to 650˚F
oven: from 150˚C to 240˚C (100˚C with convection oven) - 300˚F to 450˚F
stir fry: from 200˚C - 400˚F
barbecue: from 200˚C to 500˚C - 400˚F to 950˚F
A temperature of 100˚C or more destroys all vitamins, vitamin C is the most unstable, being destroyed at temperatures as low as 40˚C. The best way to keep all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes in our food is to eat all the food raw.
However some of us have difficulties digesting raw food and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine it is recommended to eat food hot.
It is best to think of cooked vegetables and raw vegetables as two different entities, but equally valuable, and to eat a mix of both every day.
Low temperature steaming
Steaming helps to preserve nutrients, color and flavor of ingredients. The food retains maximum nutritive value, there is practically no loss of nutrients.
This cooking method respects our food the most, the heat does not reach a temperature over 95˚C which does not destroy the nutritional quality of our food keeping the vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, enzymes, polyphenols and fatty acids.
Food is cooked between 95 and 97˚C (200˚F to 210˚F) without any contact with water. The process was used by the Chinese thousands years ago.
The process also detoxifies the food removing pesticides, nitrates and food additives. The toxins in the vegetables escape in the cooking water. For this reason it is not recommended to use the cooking water.
Organic vegetables are still the best to use as they are not treated with pesticides and other products.
It is important to limit the cooking time and to keep the vegetables cooked “al dente”
Different options are available, Chinese bamboo steamers, electric or non electric steamers , a metal steamer basket added to a pot of boiling water…. however the most suitable cooking utensil for this type of cooking is the vitaliseur (an article to come for more details)
Stewing or simmering
The use of a closed container over slow heat with a small quantity of liquid limits the vitamin loss while keeping all the flavors provided that you don’t over cook them or use to much fat for cooking. The best is to use a cast iron stewpot, an earthenware pot or a stainless steel one with a lid.
Cooking in parchment paper
It can be used for vegetables, poultry and fish. it is similar to simmering. Make sure you don’t use an aluminium foil but parchment paper or large vegetable leaves (cabbage, swiss chard, banana leaves)
Cooking in lemon, orange juices, or with vinegar
This cooking method with no heat is interesting as it does not generate toxic molecules. The food is cooked with acid.
Vegetables, fish and meat are cooked on a high heat (be reasonable) for a short time limiting the loss of vitamins and nutrients. For best results, slice the ingredients in very small pieces, add a dash of olive oil or coconut oil, some tamari (or soya sauce), cover and simmer for a few minutes stiring now and then.
TO AVOID OR LIMIT:
IT IS BEST TO ADD OIL AT THE END OF THE COOKING.
OILIVE OIL, COCONUT OIL ARE THE ONES THAT SUPPORT HIGHER COOKING TEMPERATURES.