A Guide to Steaming Vegetables

If you’re pressed for time but still want to prepare wholesome, South Beach Diet–friendly meals, try steaming. This cooking method is delightfully simple, incredibly speedy, and especially healthy because more nutrients are retained during the cooking process (compared with other cooking methods). Plus, steaming brings out the natural, fresh flavor of your veggies.

If you've never steamed vegetables before, here are two ways to master this technique.

On the Stovetop:

  1. Add 1 or 2 inches of water to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Prepare your vegetables for cooking: After washing thoroughly, cut them into equal-size pieces to ensure even steaming.
  3. Place your steaming basket (a specially designed tool that fits inside a pot and holds food just above the surface of the water) in the pot. Or use a bamboo steamer, which sits on top of boiling water in a wok or large skillet.
  4. Add the vegetables and cover.
  5. Cook until the vegetables reach the desired tenderness. In general, most vegetables require only a few minutes of steaming. If you like your veggies tender, cook them a little longer; if you prefer them on the crisper side, cook for a shorter period. Be careful not to overcook, or you'll end up with mush.
  6. Carefully transfer the vegetables to a platter or serving bowl. Serve them immediately with a South Beach Diet–friendly seasoning, such as lemon juice, any spice that doesn't contain added sugar, and/or fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, dill, or chives.

 

In the Microwave:

  1. Prepare your vegetables for cooking: After washing thoroughly, cut the vegetables into equal-size pieces to ensure even steaming.
  2. If you have the plastic bags made especially for microwave steaming, follow the directions on the package; otherwise place the vegetables in a large, microwave-safe shallow bowl (a glass bowl, for example) and follow the steps below.
  3. Add just a little water to the bottom of the bowl (about 1 tablespoon per cup of veggies).
  4. Cover the bowl with microwave-safe plastic wrap or a damp paper towel and fold back in one spot to allow the steam to vent.
  5. Microwave on high for 4 to 8 minutes (depending on the size of the vegetable pieces) or until your veggies reach the desired tenderness; for larger vegetable pieces, turn halfway through cooking, if desired, for even doneness. Serve with a South Beach Diet–recommended seasoning (see Step 6 above).

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