Are some vegetables healthier raw, but others healthier when cooked?

Cooking affects the fibers within your veggies, and while these fibers are often better for your body when raw, certain veggies’ nutrients are actually enhanced when cooked (particularly steamed). Kale fibers, for example, bind with bile acids in the gut to increase excretion of these acids, which in turn has a cholesterol-lowering effect. Both raw and cooked kale do this, but the binding is more powerful with steamed kale. Broccoli, conversely, is better for you raw or lightly steamed for two to three minutes due to the glucosinolates it contains. A coveted class fo compounds, glucosinolates help protect your stomach against bacteria, but a significant amount leaches out of broccoli very easily when cooked. Since most people prefer their veggies cooked, however, experts recommend steaming – it preserves more nutrients than other cooking methods while delivering a satisfying, crispy bite.

Why do we only have access to canned, frozen or dried beans? Why don’t the markets provide fresh beans?

Some types of beans (including kidney, black and navy) are not harvested until they have completely matured and dried out, which is why you will not find them fresh. It’s worth noting that most beans – especially kidney beans – should always be cooked before eating since they contain naturally occurring toxins that become neutral and harmless after cooking. In early summer, look for fresh fava, pinto and lima beans, as well as fresh green garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) at farmers’ markets, specialty shops and ethnic grocery stores. Fresh beans are perishable and will keep well for a few days when stored in the refrigerator, while shelled beans can be kept frozen for up to six months before being cooked.

Your No-Mess Grill Guide

Easy ways to cut clean-up time…

At the grill

  • Don’t’ use nonstick spray on the grill grate – it’ll burn onto the grate, making it tacky and difficult to clean. If you’re concerned about sticking, brush oil on the outside of food before placing it on the grill.
  • Do line the cooker’s grease tray with foil to catch drips and fallen pieces of food and save yourself scrubbing later (but check the grill’s manual first to make sure this is safe).
  • Put a mat under your grill to protect your patio or deck form food stains and sparks. You can use The Original Grill Pad from Diversitech (30-inch-round pad, $30, grillpad.com); just host it clean.

Around the yard

  • Cover tables with brown butcher paper (available at office-supply stores). A bonus at the buffet: You can easily ID foods (say, vegetarian options) by writing directly on the butcher paper. Or, place a shower-curtain liner on your tables, underneath fabric or paper tablecloths, to keep spills from soaking through.
  • Strategically stash a few damp and dry cloths near the grill and by the tables so you can sop up spills when they happen. And remember: This is the sort of meal where it’s OK to plop a roll of paper towels on a table for messy hands.
  • Try Flings Bins ($4, Amazon) – pop-up disposable trash and recycling bins – to make quick work of garbage (and to avoid having to hose out gross barrels). Pick from more than a dozen prints.

Smart Grill Tips

When the grill is still warm, grab a ball of aluminum foil with your long-handled tongs and give the grates a good rubdown to de-gunk. Used foil is fine, as long as the food-stained part is on the inside.

Fix Food Stains

No need to run inside for a stain stick. Use what you’ve got on hand to keep these splotches from setting

Oily Stains

Scrape off excess and sprinkle o salt or sugar. Pat it in to help absorb the grease; dust off what remains.

Condiments

Scrape off the excess with the dull side of the knife; flush with cold water.

Cola or Tea

Rub the stain with an ice cube. Blot moisture with a paper towel or a napkin.

Avoid These “Healthy” Foods

Are you looking for a way to eat healthier? Join the club. You may be surprised to find that some of the foods you think are healthy are actually bad for you.

The more you learn about the food you are eating the better off you are going to be. There is nothing worse than thinking you are eating healthy, just to find that this has not been the case.

Here are 13 “healthy” foods to avoid:

1. Fast Food Chicken Caesar Salad. Rather than order a Big Mac with fries, for example, some people think that a chicken Caesar salad is the way to go. But did you know that McDonald’s version of this popular meal has 890 mg of sodium?

2. Frozen Chicken and Pasta Dinner. Nothing better than a quick dinner that tastes good and is healthy, right? Well, not if you are eating frozen chicken and pasta every night. For example, Bertolli Roasted Chicken and Linguine has roughly 1,350 mg of sodium. Imagine how bad it would be if you ate both servings, which is quite doable.

3. Boxed Rice Pilaf. Rice can’t be bad. Yea right! Many of the most popular Spanish rice from a box has over 900 mg of sodium per serving.

4. Fat-Free Cottage Cheese. If it is fat-free it has to be good for me. That is unless you are eating fat-free cottage cheese, such as the product from Breakstone. With more than 400 mg of sodium per serving, you are sure to get your daily requirement after just a few bites.

5. Frozen Meatless Indian Dinners. Once again, frozen dinners are on the list. People love a fast meal, especially when they think it is healthy for them. Don’t be surprised to find that one of these meals contains approximately 20 g of fat.

6. Regular Jarred Tomato Sauce. Prego Traditional Italian Sauce tastes great. However, it is not always good for you. Did you know that one jar has 10 g of sugar? This is something many people are surprised to learn, being that it does not show through in the taste.

7. Fruit Juice Cocktails. I am going to drink an Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail instead of a soda because it is better for me. Is that so? One eight ounce glass of Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail has as much sugar as a single can of soda. You might as well crack open a Pepsi!

8. Low-Fat Ice Cream. Just because a product is described as “low-fat” does not mean it is good for you. For example, a half cup serving of Häagen-Dazs Low-Fat Vanilla Frozen Yogurt has 21 g of sugar. Did you know that this is more than half the amount that you would eat in a regular serving of ice cream?

9. Fat-Free Salad Dressing. Yet another fat-free myth. Many of your favorite “fat-free” salad dressings are loaded with sugar.

10. Poultry Sausage. Yes, it tastes good. No, you don’t want to overdo it on products such as Aidells Smoked Chicken and Apple sausage. With 160 calories and 11 g of fat per link, you are going to find yourself going overboard soon enough.

11. Baked Veggie Chips. These are baked and based on vegetables. How bad could they be? Even though this is the case, a one ounce serving still has 8 g of fat.

12. Greek Yogurt. This is one of the most common lunch time items for people all over the world. But guess what? It can be bad for your body. For example, a cup of Fage Total Plain Classic Greek Yogurt has 300 calories and 23 g of fat.

13. Movie Theater Popcorn. There is nothing like heading to the movies and feeding your face with some fresh popped popcorn. Before you do this, you may want to consider all the saturated fat that you are putting into your body.

On the surface, you may not think that these types of food are bad for you. However, you now know different. If you are trying to eat healthy, day in and day out, do your best to avoid these foods. You may want to splurge from time to time, but you definitely don’t want to be eating these foods everyday.

Modern Greens

It’s time to think beyond Kale Chips. Hearty greens – the M.V.P.s of a healthy diet – deserve a bit more culinary creativity.

Banish your memories
of soggy collards and overcooked spinach: When they’re prepared with care, it’s easy eating greens. In fact, the vegetables –which are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, and generally ring in at less than 50 calories a serving – can be downright exciting.

The recipes here treat the nutritional powerhouses in innovative ways. Tuscan kale-which is loaded with vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene – is crisped in the oven, allowing it to function as a foil for rich, runny egg yolks. Napa cabbage, an especially good source of fiber, is grilled and laced with spicy Chinese mustard to balance its natural sweetness.

In our ultrahealthy take on lasagna, escarole and kale replace the pasta, while pureed white beans sub in for creamy ricotta. And mustard greens, rather than the typical herbs, form the base of an easy pesto that works on pasta, chicken, and even whole-wheat toast. Hugely flavorful, thanks to roasted garlic and the spicy kick of the greens, this update on the Italian classic is also a good source of vitamin K, which is essential for both bone health and optimal blood coagulation. A recent study concluded that people whose diets are high in the nutrient, which is found in all dark leafy produce, have a lower risk of cancer and tend to live longer. It’s just another argument for working more greens into your diet – though after sampling the dishes showcased here, you won’t need any more convincing.

Crisp Kale Nests with Soft-Cooked Eggs

Active time 15 MIN TOTAL TIME 55 MIN SERVES 2

1 small bunch Tuscan kale (also called cavolo nero), stems and center ribs discarded
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
Red-pepper flakes
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 275 Degree. Cut kale lengthwise into strips about ¾ inch wide. Toss with oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, the lemon zest, and a pinch of red-pepper flakes, and spread onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring half-way through. Let kale cool. Divide between 2 bowls, and form each portion into .a nest, leaving a hold in center.

Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Gently lower eggs into water, turn off heat, and cover. Let eggs sit 6 to 6 ½ minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water, and let sit 30 seconds. Working carefully and let sit 30 seconds. Working carefully and quickly, peel eggs, and place in center of nests. Sprinkle with pepper and 1/8 teaspoon sale. Serve immediately.

Per serving

352 calories. 5 G Saturated fat
17 G Unsaturated fat, 423 MG cholesterol
24 G Carbohydrates, 378 MG sodium
20 G Protein, 6 G fiber

Greens, eggs, no Ham

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast: This dish makes a great meatless dinner. Serve over brown rice for a more substantial meal.

Delicious Honeyed Blackberries with Grilled Pound Cake

Though the berries aren’t grilled, the sauce is cooked on the grill along with the grilled slices of pound cake. The butter content in the pound cake is enough to keep it from sticking to the grill grates, so you do not need to brush the slices with oil or butter.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 cups blackberries
6 tablespoons honey, divided
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 (1-inch) slices of pound cake

Prepare a hot fire in your grill. Whip the cream with an electric mixer or a whisk until it holds medium peaks, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan that can be used on the grill or on a grill side burner, combine the blackberries, four tablespoons honey, lemon juice and cinnamon.

Set the saucepan over the heat and stir to blend, cooking until the mixture begins to bubble.

At the same time, grill the pound cake slices for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until they get good grill marks.

Stir remaining 2 tablespoons of honey into the whipped cream with a light touch.

To serve, set a slice of grilled pound cake on each plate. Spoon the warmed berries over the cake and top with the honeyed whipped cream. Makes 4 servings.