Chefs, nutritionists, even skin gurus agree, steaming is the optimum way to ensure that food is full of flavour, colour and nutrition.
Chef Kim Taylor believes in the healing power of steam. As a private chef Taylor spends her days devising and cooking meals for the health conscious family that she works for. An average day might run to several different breakfast dishes, a lunchtime meal that includes a range of high protein salads and a multi-course dinner, often with extra guests.
“There is a lot of cooking on any one day,” she says. “Each meal will include several dishes to meet the dietary requirements of everyone in the family. I steam everything, vegetables, proteins, even grains.”
Taylor believes steam has a unique power to cook gently.
“Steam retains colour, moisture, and texture. It means that everything looks more vibrant and inviting on the plate.”
In addition to her work as a private chef, Kim also designs menus and cooks for a health and wellness retreat, Fernleigh, in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales. Clients check in to Fernleigh to undertake celebrity-physiotherapist Sarah Keys’ Back-in-A-Week program.
“Sarah’s philosophy is that food is a great comforter and healer,” says Taylor.
“As a chef I agree, and so we work together to design menus that nurture both the body and the soul.”
Taylor employs the use of whole food ingredients, most are grown locally and are organic.
“I cook everything using fresh wholefoods. The goal is to nourish and comfort, Sarah loves indulging her clients and nurturing them,” says Taylor. If this means a decedent chocolate morning tea, then Taylor goes to work. “Food is an incredibly powerful healing force,” she says.
Much of Taylor’s menu at Fernleigh is comfort food – braises including slow cooked lamb shoulders and beef cheeks in winter, to steamed puddings and desserts. “The joy and ease of a steam oven is that you can make wonderful baked custard desserts like creme brûlée or a bread and butter pudding without using a water-bath, and you can slow cook meats and retain moisture and flavour,” she says.
Jakarta-based Australian Nutritionist and Holistic Health Coach Anna Keusgen agrees that cooking with steam has many and varied benefits. “Steaming is a much healthier option than cooking methods that use high temperatures and that brown or char foods such as frying or barbecuing,” she says.
“Cooking in a steam oven is a clean, simple way of preparing food, and is nutritionally superior to other methods.”
Miele’s steam cooking range, which includes built-in and benchtop ovens, cooks fresh foods extremely gently, which is proven to deliver superior results in appearance, taste, aroma and texture.
Keusgen is particularly fond of the benefits of steaming fish. “Fillets, or a whole fish cooked in a steam oven sees the fish retain more of its healthy omega-3 fatty acids compared to high-heat cooking methods,” she says.
Many of Keusgen’s clients are time poor with heavy work and social schedules, so she recommends steaming food rather than baking or grilling as a time effective way of producing a nutritious meal.
“My favourite week night meal is coriander steamed fish and greens, with a dressing of sesame oil, chilli, tamari and lime juice. It requires just one tray, is fast, nutritious and delicious,” she says. “Steaming in the steam oven is also the ideal way to cook vegetables as it minimises the loss of water soluble vitamins and nutrients which are leached out in other methods such as boiling.”
Skin guru Jade Wieland of Skin Body Health Clinics in Sydney’s Woollahra and Mosman, echoes Keusgen’s thoughts. Weiland believes that steaming is the best way to get the most nutrients out of vegetables.
“Steaming gently softens the cell structure of the food whilst retaining most of the nutrients and also makes many of these vegetables easier to digest,” she says.
Steaming helps to make the nutrients more ‘bio-available’ she explains; “It means that our bodies can absorb them more easily, so we get more goodness out of the food we eat.”
Weiland lists broccoli, rich in vitamin A and B, as being particularly important for clear skin, and dark leafy greens including kale, spinach and chard as good sources of iron which can help to reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. “Many of the most important nutrients for healthy glowing skin including vitamins A, C and E, as well as beta-carotene are found in vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and dark leafy greens,” she says.
This skin guru practices what she preaches. “I am a vegetarian and I run two very busy skin practices, so I need to maximise the iron and trace minerals in my diet.” she says.
“Cooking a tray of steamed vegetables is easy.”
Weiland often steams vegetables and leafy greens and serves them with a dressing using lemon juice which is high in vitamin C. “Vitamin C is particularly important for sustaining regular collagen production and supporting the elasticity in the skin,” she says. “That is what helps to keep us look young and vibrant.”
View Miele’s Steam Oven and Steam Combination Ovens here.