Eat a wide range of vegetables every week!
Vegetables should be obtained as fresh as possible and, with the exception of onions and potatoes, should be washed and dried immediately. They should be stored in a dark cold room and used as soon as possible. Much of the vitamin content will be lost after only a few hour's wilting in the light at room temperature. Eat the most tender vegetables raw or cook for the minimum time by steaming. They will also have retained their best flavours. If you must boil vegetables, boil the water before adding the vegetables, use the minimum quantity of water and use the liquid in the sauce. The liquid often contains more vitamins and minerals than the vegetables after boiling.
Baked vegetables should be brushed with olive oil before placing in a pre-heated oven. Steamed vegetables can also be seasoned by tossing them in a tablespoon of olive oil immediately before serving.
Do not use bicarbonate of soda when cooking vegetables. It destroys some of the vitamins completely.
Salt should not be added to cooking water, use a small quantity just before serving.
Alfalfa is useful for sprouting for salads. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, but they should not be eaten in large quantities.
Amaranth spinach is much more nutritious than lettuce. It can be cooked briefly by stir frying or steaming.
Globe Artichokes are prepared by trimming the sharp points of the leaves and breaking the stalk away from the base. The whole artichoke needs to be simmered for 45 minutes. It will need a plate on top of the vegetable to make sure it doesn't float!
Drain the artichokes upside down before serving.
The fleshy base of each leaf is eaten, as is the fleshy base, but the bud itself - the choke - is discarded.
Asparagus is cooked in the simplest way by boiling, the bunch of stems standing upright in the pan so that the tops are steamed. The flavour of asparagus is so delicate that it doesn't require a sauce.
Aubergine should be firm, heavy and shiny. Slice them thinly and then sprinkled with salt to draw out a bitter flavour. After 30 minutes the salt should be washed off and the slices dried with a clean cloth. The prepared slices can be stewed or baked, but tend to absorb too much fat if fried.
Runner Beans when fresh should be long, thin, and snap cleanly when bent. They are best cooked by simmering in water for 10 - 15 minutes. They can be sliced but fewer nutrients are lost if they are cooked whole.
French Beans should be firm but thin, without fully formed seeds. Cook whole by simmering for 10 -15 minutes.
Broad Beans should be eaten fresh before they have grown to full size. Thumb-nail size is best. Young beans only require 10 minutes boiling but mature beans need 20 minutes and are better left to soups and stews.
Beetroot will bleed if cut before cooking. The leaves should be removed by twisting. The roots need simmering for 20 - 30 minutes until soft, when the skins can be removed by rubbing. They can be baked for 35 minutes at 350F. They are excellent served hot or cold. Beetroot also makes an excellent thickened for soups when pureed.
Young beetroot leaves are an excellent addition to a salad.
Cabbage, like all brassicas can be eaten raw. This means that they should also be cooked for the shortest possible time, and served immediately. Cover the leaves with the minimum of water or steam them for 10 - 15 minutes. Longer cooking destroys both the texture and the food value.
Brussels Sprouts are easily overcooked. They need only be boiled for 7 - 8 minutes before draining and serving.
Cauliflower and Broccoli can also be eaten raw, so keep cooking to the minimum. If the stems are split it will speed up cooking. Steam if possible, or boil for 15 minutes.
Carrots should be washed if home grown and no insecticides have been used, but bought carrots should be peeled to remove the surface layer with its insecticide residues. They can be grated raw for salad or cut into thin sticks for a dip. Young carrots take 10 minutes to cook, whole, mature carrots slightly longer. Grated carrot is also a useful addition to bread or cakes. They are the most nutritious of the hardy root crops.
Celeriac provides an excellent celery flavour for soups and stews but is not suitable for salads.
Celery is excellent raw with a salad or cooked by steaming for 15 minutes. The palest stems are best, dark green stems have a bitter taste.
Courgettes can be eaten raw while small, or boiled for 2 minutes before draining. They can also be steamed. Larger courgettes can be cut into cubes and used in stews.
Cucumber is normally served sliced, raw in salads, but it can also be steamed or boiled for 2 minutes.
Garlic should be used fresh and cooked as little as possible. Add towards the end of the cooking period for most dishes.
Leeks are one of the hardiest vegetables for eating through the winter. The darkest green portions of the leaves should be discarded and the roots cut away from the base of the stem. If you cut up from just above the base to the top of the leaves, any soil can be washed out of the leaves without their becoming tangled. Leeks need simmering in water or wine for 15 minutes.
Lettuce provides a useful source of vitamin A, but few other nutrients. It can be eaten hot in soups but its main use is in salads.
Marrows can be baked in the oven. The time needed depends on size. They can be cut into chunks and boiled for two minutes or used in stews.
Mushrooms can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked with stews or soups.
Onions must have the brown skin removed before cooking. Slice thinly to serve raw in salad, fry in the minimum quantity of olive oil for 10 minutes. Boil whole onions for 20 minutes or bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Parsnip should be peeled to remove the skin and then cut into large chunks. They can be boiled for 15 - 20 minutes or sprinkled with olive oil and roasted in the oven. They will absorb too much fat if cooked with the joint.
Peas are best raw in salads when young and fresh. Older peas need boiling for 15 minutes.
Peppers contain the most vitamin C when large and red. They can be sliced, and with the seeds removed, eaten raw. They can also be simmered for 10 minutes.
Radish make an excellent salad vegetable.
Sweetcorn can be baked in their husks, but normally the husks are removed and the cob cooked in boiling water. 5 minutes for the youngest corn, 20 minutes if they are very mature.
Tomato are most nutritious eaten raw, but they make an excellent sauce for many dishes.
Turnip and Swede need peeling. When they are mature the skin is thick and the flesh is very hard, so take care when cutting them! Cut the flesh into chunks and boil for 20 minutes until soft, or grate the root and stir fry with a spoonful of olive oil until soft and tender. The temperature should not be high enough for the turnip to brown.