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There’s something fascinating about the way nutrients behave when we cook them. Depending on the cooking method, we can influence the taste, texture and the nutritional value of a meal.

Unfortunately, some nutrients are more sensitive than others to cooking, and need to be prepared with a little more care if we want to retain as much of the nutritional quality as possible. Steaming has been praised as one of the healthiest cooking methods for many years now, largely because of its ability to retain nutrients.

This cooking method uses steam at a controlled temperature to cook your food, allowing a significant amount of water soluble vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients to be retained. Vitamin C and folate, two water soluble vitamins, have been shown to be greatly retained while being steamed compared to other cooking methods. The heat distribution through a steam oven is more even than other appliances, and prevents those hot spots from developing in dishes – cooking and heating meals more evenly.

When steaming, you don’t need to add fats to your meals, but remember that a small amount of fat is needed to help you absorb fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K), especially if you are having a vegetarian meal. Mixing your freshly steamed vegetables with a little extra virgin olive oil can help you better absorb these vitamins.

Dietary fibre tends to be the forgotten nutrient when steaming food comes to mind. Because of the even and swift cooking of steam ovens, dietary fibre can maintain its integrity. High fibre diets promote a variety of wonderful health benefits ranging from reduced risks of bowel cancer, help with appetite regulation by increasing feelings of fullness, as well as helping to lower cholesterol levels. To prevent fibre losses, your vegetables are ready when they are bright and tender – whilst holding their shape.

Vegetables that love to be steamed include broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes and beans. These vegetables are packed with both water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. The antioxidant effect of vitamin E and C from these vegetables are great for boosting our immune systems and have plenty of fibre.

As winter is coming, a broccoli and leek casserole with plenty of mushrooms, cracked pepper and a dash of light cream to serve, gives the immune system a boost for the cold months ahead. Steaming is such a versatile cooking method and if you’re big on taste, try being creative with your steaming. Use banana leaves as liners, or place rosemary sprigs, lemon slices and garlic cloves between your salmon fillets in the steaming tray – this can make a world of difference to your taste buds and give you more variety in cooking.

Steam ovens aren’t just for cooking though; they are amazing for reheating leftovers too. Reheating food with other appliances can often make your meal dry out, change the texture and destroy nutrients. Using a steam oven keeps your food moist so that it’s still as palatable as the day before, without drying it out and while retaining its nutritional quality. I personally find myself steaming my foods more often than any other cooking method, be it my inner dietitian or the lazy cook inside me – there is just something that draws me to a steam oven when I can make something super nutritious and only need to wash one oven tray to do it!

Miele offers complimentary Introduction To Steam classes at Miele Experience Centres across Australia and New Zealand. Click here to find your local centre.

Georgia Fassoulidis is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Provisional Sports Dietitian. For more information about how you can use nutrition to improve your health or performance, please contact a member of Sport Dietitians Australia (SDA), Australia’s peak professional body and credible source of sport nutrition information www.sportsdietitians.com.au

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