Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Clean Eating – it’s simple and very healthy.- Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Clean eating is quite a simple concept. The idea is that we can effectively reduce body fat and drop unwanted inches without counting calories. The idea is more about being mindful of what occurs with the food from the time it originates until it lands on your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or "real" foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible. However, modern food production has become so sophisticated that simply eating whole foods can be a challenging proposition these days.

Although the amount of processing varies dramatically it’s almost everywhere in the packaged foods we buy. So why, exactly, is processing so bad — especially if it's something as simple as adding heat? First let’s be clear, not all processing is bad. Often processing removes toxins or bacteria, or allows for us to eat certain types of foods in off-season due to freezing or canning. The key is to avoid foods that are 'ultra-processed’. Highly processed foods are stripped of nutrients needed for overall health; and heavily modified food tends to have additives that overstimulate the production of dopamine, the "pleasure" neurotransmitter, perpetuating a negative cycle of constant junk food cravings.

Research and common sense have shown that eating a largely plant-based diet is healthy. Multiple studies have shown that diets heavy on fruits and vegetables can curb or prevent certain life-threatening conditions and diseases, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Plus, there's research linking diets high in fruits and veggies to healthy weight management and glowing skin and hair.

Moral of the story: A sure fire way to eat healthier is to spend more time in the produce aisle picking up a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and spend less time in the snack, soda and packaged / prepared foods aisle if you want to lead a healthier life.

Why local produce is important to all of us- Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The local produce harvest is finally in an upswing with new deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables coming in from both of our local farms -- Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn and Bountiful Blessings Farm in Hinckley -- every day. We have always been strong supporters of buying locally produced and grown foods, but in the past it simply wasn’t feasible to rely on local farms to supply us. That changed this year and we are extremely pleased to be able to offer you a wide selection of locally grown produce items.

So far shoppers have been very enthusiastic and are buying up the local produce as fast as we receive it. For those of you who haven’t given it a try, perhaps these few points will help make believers out of you as well... 

Good reasons to buy local produce when it’s available:

  • Local food is fresh - Local produce is fresher and tastes better because it is often sold within 24 hours of being picked. When we receive a delivery from one of our local farms, we know that the product was still growing in the field earlier that same day.
  • Local food is riper – Produce that needs to be shipped cross-country or even farther needs to be picked long before it is ripe in order to make certain that the items are able to stand up to the packing, shipping, and travel from the fields to warehouses and eventually to our store. Local produce gets to spend more time in the ground or on the vine to ripen because it’s grown less than a 1/2 hour from our store. This gives you a tastier, vine-ripened product.
  • Eating local is “green” - Eating local reduces your carbon footprint. When your food doesn’t travel long distances, you’re promoting better air quality and reducing pollution.
  • Local food is seasonal - Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons. Most locally grown items are not available all year round. When you buy local you are getting the best nature has to offer at its peak of freshness. And when it’s most affordable.
  • Local food is more pure - When you buy food that travels less distances, it is less likely to be contaminated or tampered with. Our local farmers all use organic growing methods. Heritage Prairie Farm is a Certified Organic Farm and Bountiful Blessing Farm, while not certified organic, does incorporate sustainable practices and integrated pest management.  When weed or pest control is necessary they start with organic compounds and don’t use anything stronger than a one-day pre-harvest interval.
  • Buying local is more fulfilling - Knowing that your food has a story and that it came from one of your neighbors makes eating it that much more enjoyable.
  • Local foods offer unique variety – Both of our local farms are quite diversified. They offer a number of delicious items not available from our standard channels of supply. Also, the land is healthier and farming practices more sustainable when the farms raise a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Local foods support responsible land development - When we buy local foods, we support local farmers. This gives those with farms and pastures a reason to stay undeveloped.
  • Local food enhances our environment - In addition to the reduced carbon footprint we experience with food grown less than twenty miles from tour store, there are lots of other reasons that our environment benefits when we support local farming.   The more land that is cultivated organically decreases the overall usage of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers, and increases biodiversity in our local ecosystem.
  • Local food is good for our economy - Eating local means more money stays within your community. Every dollar spent generates twice as much income for the local economy.
  • Buying local enriches our social community - When we buy local foods, we create a more intimate relationship with the people who grow our food because they’re our neighbors.

 

Get the most out of your fresh vegetables- Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Everyone knows that vegetables are an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet...

As it turns out, however, cooking vegetables can dramatically reduce their potency. The act of heating can destroy essential vitamins and minerals in some types of produce, which means that you may not be getting as much value out of that plate of broccoli as you thought. If you want to maximize the benefits of your veggies, you need to understand which cooking techniques will best preserve, or even enhance, their nutritional content.

It's important to note that not every vegetable reacts in the same way to a given cooking method, or lack thereof. For example, while some veggies are best eaten raw for maximum nutrition, tomatoes are actually more healthy for you after they've been cooked. Why? Because cooking them boosts their antioxidant levels. Likewise, mushrooms are best eaten cooked (grilled or roasted, preferably) because doing so increases the available potassium content.

Advantages and disadvantages of common cooking methods

[Info courtesy of organicgardening.com & rodale.com]

Microwaving
When in doubt, microwave your veggies for maximum antioxidant preservation. According to a Spanish study of how various cooking methods impact vegetable antioxidant capacity, microwaves reign supreme in prepping vegetables to retain their nutrients. Exception: Keep cauliflower out of the microwave; it loses more than 50 percent of its antioxidants if nuked.

Baking
Baking, or roasting, is hit-or-miss. Based on the study results, bake your artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, and peppers, all of which retained their antioxidant values, but not your carrots, Brussels sprouts, leeks, cauliflower, peas, zucchini, onions, beans, celery, beets, and garlic, which all saw decreases in nutrient levels. Where baking really shines is with green beans, eggplant, corn, Swiss chard, and spinach, all of which saw their antioxidant levels increase after baking. Toss a handful of those veggies into your next casserole.

Frying

It’s probably no surprise that this method fails the test when it comes to antioxidants and nutrition levels. In addition to adding way too much fat to your meal, it caused a loss of between 5 and 50 percent of each vegetable’s nutrients.

Pressure cooking and boiling
Generally speaking, don’t use these methods if you want to retain antioxidants in your vegetables. “In short, water is not the cook’s best friend when it comes to preparing vegetables,” says lead researcher A.M. Jimenez-Monreal. Peas, cauliflower, and zucchini are particularly susceptible to losing nutrients through boiling. If you do need to boil your vegetables, save the nutrient-rich boiling water and use it the next time you make a soup or sauce.

Steaming
Those same Italian researchers found that steaming is the best method for preserving antioxidants found in broccoli and zucchini. But contrary to what you may think, this may not be the healthiest way to prep vegetables anyway. Many of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, meaning your body absorbs them better in the presence of fat. If you prefer steaming your vegetables, toss them with a small amount of olive oil before serving to boost nutrient absorption.

Sautéing

None of the studies on nutrient levels and cooking techniques have included sautéing vegetables over high heat in a little bit of oil. However, the process of sautéing is similar to that of microwaving: cooking your vegetables over high heat in a short amount of time. That minimizes nutrient loss, and the oil in which you’re sautéing them helps your body absorb more of the nutrients.

So, now that you have the lowdown on cooking methods and their potential consequences, you can start making more informed choices on how to prepare your food for maximum results. Bear in mind, though, that just because your favorite technique may not be the best choice for cooking a particular vegetable, doesn't mean you should no longer use it. You may be sacrificing some nutrients, but if the only way you can eat those Brussels sprouts is boiled then boiled they shall be.

 

Cooked Vs Raw Vegetables -- Which offers the most nutritional value?- Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It has long been debated by raw food enthusiasts and the more traditional schools of cooking as to which way to eat vegetables is healthier, raw or cooked.

Vegetables contain many nutrients essential for good health. These plant foods supply carbohydrates, antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins. The nutritional values of vegetables may change during processing or cooking. Different preparation methods (including cooking temperatures) can affect the vitamin content of most vegetables.

While some foods may lose many of their nutritive benefits between harvesting and eating, using certain cooking techniques may help your vegetables retain many of these important nutrients. Cooking is a process that is adopted to make food easily digestible, destroy disease causing germs, and to enhance its taste and flavor. Naturally, it has several advantages as well as disadvantages.

Carbohydrates: The starch swells during cooking and becomes gelatinous. Thus, cooking helps in proper digestion of carbohydrates.

Proteins: Moderate heat splits protein and shrinks it in size. As a result, it becomes more easily digestible. However, severe heat (during roasting, baking and frying) reduces the nutritional value of proteins.

Thiamine: About 20% to 50% of thiamine (Vitamin B1) is lost to cooking, with the greatest loss occurring when foods are boiled, baked or fried. It is also depleted if you add soda for cooking vegetables.

Folic acid and Vitamin B12: Both these vitamins tend to be lost when using cooking methods such as pressure cooking, roasting or frying. In addition to the loss due to heat, folic acid and vitamin B12 are also lost when excess water is discarded after cooking.

Vitamin C: This vitamin is lost by oxidation due to exposure to air and by discarding excess water after cooking. About 10% to 60% of vitamin C is lost during cooking depending upon its method and the vegetable cooked. Furthermore, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium are all lost when excess water is discarded after cooking.

Techniques for cooking vegetables include microwaving, steaming, stir-frying, deep-frying, baking and boiling. Using low heat and quick methods of cooking can help retain vitamins.

According to North Dakota State University, microwaving foods provides a method of cooking that helps to retain the vitamins in vegetables. Microwaving foods takes less time than conventional methods and reduces the need for water. Steaming vegetables until slightly tender may also help preserve both vitamins and color. Another quick method of cooking, stir-frying, adds a crisp texture, without requiring long cooking times.

While eating vegetables raw or lightly cooked may help them retain healthy amounts of vitamins, cooking can provide benefits as well. According to the arthritis foundation, cooked tomatoes supply three to four times more lycopene than raw tomatoes. Cooking releases this antioxidant from the fibrous portions of the vegetables, making it easier to absorb. Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables also supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw.

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2002 showed that cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene belongs to a group of antioxidant substances called carotenoids, which give fruits and vegetables their red, yellow and orange colorings. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which plays an important role in vision, reproduction, bone growth, and regulating the immune system. Cooking can also help destroy bacteria and parasites.

In conclusion, there are strong arguments for eating both raw and cooked vegetables and since the latest guidelines from the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services calls for the consumption of 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day, we recommend that you balance what you eat and enjoy some prepared each way every day. One thing we can assure you here at Prisco's is that you never need be bored eating the same old thing day after day.

What to do with all those garden vegetables and fruits- Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This time of year for one reason or another we often find ourselves wondering what to do with all the fresh produce we have coming from our home gardens. The only downside to growing one's own vegetables is the potential for over-production. It can be difficult to determine exactly how many plants you're going to need, and, ultimately, what the yield is going to be. Now, this is a non-issue if you have friends, family or neighbors who appreciate fresh produce: you can simply give away whatever you or your family can't consume. However, if gifting your extra veggies is not a possibility, you have other options available to preserve the fruits of your labor...

Canning

Have an excess of vegetables or fruits? Canning is an option if you want to preserve them for use later. Canning involves quickly blanching your veggies in hot water, peeling them, and stuffing them into cans or jars, which are then covered and boiled in order to seal them.

The process takes some time, but doesn't require any special skills. You will, however, need to invest in some basic equipment in order to safely and properly can some kinds of foods:

  • Water Bath Canner - If you plan to can fruits, tomatoes and other high-acid foods, a water bath canner is the canner for the job. 21-quarts is the most common size, but you can also find larger versions. If you decide to buy one second-hand, make sure it still has its lid, and preferable its rack.

  • Pressure Canner/Cooker - If you plan to can vegetables, meats, seafood and other low-acid foods, you'll need to purchase a pressure canner. This type of canner is capable of reaching 240 degrees Farhenheit – the temperature required to kill bacteria.

  • Canning Rack - Most canners come with a rack to hold the jars, but if yours is missing or worn out, you can purchase one separately.

  • Jars - Glass jars with lids and rings are required for foods that will be stored at room temperature. Glass or plastic freezer jars can be used for foods that will be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

  • Jar Lifter - Used to lift hot jars out of the canner.

  • Wide-neck Canning Funnel - For filling the jars.

All of the above items can often be purchased more cheaply if you go the Canning Kit route. Canning kits are great for beginners as they include everything you need to get started, and take a lot of the guess work out of setting up.

Here are step-by-step instructions for canning your own tomatoes, courtesy of food52: Grandma's Canned Tomatoes

Drying

Drying is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. Drying preserves foods by removing enough moisture from food to prevent decay and spoilage.

When drying foods, the key is to remove moisture as quickly as possible at a temperature that does not seriously affect the flavor, texture and color of the food. If the temperature is too low in the beginning, microorganisms may survive and even grow before the food is adequately dried. If the temperature is too high and the humidity too low, the food may harden on the surface. This makes it more difficult for moisture to escape and the food does not dry properly.

If you'd like to give the drying method a try, here is a recipe for oven-drying tomatoes (pictures included!)

Pickling

[Info courtesy of urbanfarmonline.com]

There are four general methods for pickling: quick, salt-brined, vinegar-brined and fermented. Within those basic pickling techniques, there exist many variations to pickle different vegetables and fruits and to make relishes and chutneys. Each pickling method has its own benefits, and some produce lends itself better to one method or another.

  • Quick-pickle method: Items that are pickled using the quick-pickle technique sometimes are called “fresh pickles.” The vegetables and/or fruits to be pickled are trimmed and/or chopped, sliced or left whole. In some cases, the produce is blanched (asparagus, for example) or cooked until tender (beets) and cooled. Then the produce is packed into canning jars, and a heated pickling liquid is poured over the jars’ contents. The liquid generally consists of vinegar and water, and it can include spices, herbs, sugar and salt flavor.

  • Salt-brined method: Some vegetables, such as cucumbers and zucchini, benefit from having some of their natural water removed before the pickling liquid is added. By adding salt – either on its own or in a salt-water brine – the water is drawn out of the vegetables’ cells. This allows the pickling liquid to penetrate into the cells more thoroughly, giving the pickling items more flavor, better texture and a longer shelf life. Vegetables usually are doused with salt for at least a few hours and up to an entire day. The excess salt then is rinsed off and the vegetables drained well and packed into canning jars, either cold or heated. Finally, a vinegar-based pickling liquid is added to create the proper acidic conditions and to add flavor.

  • Vinegar-brined method: These pickled items are a little more complex to make than the previous two methods. The vinegar-brined technique basically follows the same process for salt-brined pickles – drawing the water out of the vegetables’ or fruits’ cells to make room for the pickling liquid. In this method, the water is gradually drawn out in stages by soaking, draining and soaking again, using a vinegar solution, sometimes in combination with a salt-water brine and often with plenty of sugar.

  • Fermented method: This is a considerably different technique from the others, though it uses a salt-water brine. The vegetables are covered in a salt-water brine, weighed down to make sure the vegetables are immersed and left at a specific temperature – usually at room temperature – to ferment. During fermentation, the salt draws the liquid out of the cells, and naturally occurring microbes digest the sugars from the liquid and form lactic acid (among other substances). The lactic acid reduces the pH to a level that preserves the vegetables. There’s no need to add vinegar, sugar or citrus juices to fully fermented pickled items

Here is a simple pickling recipe, courtesy of foodnetwork.com: Refrigerator Pickles: Cauliflower, Carrots, Cukes...You name it!

 

It’s a great time to enjoy your grill... How about some delicious grilled asparagus or pineapple?- Tuesday, June 2, 2015

This week I would like to introduce our customers to a great summertime treat that many people miss out on because they simply haven’t been exposed to it. I don’t want to take anything away from Prisco’s great fresh meat department, and there is no question that outdoor grilling is a time when that department really shines, but there are more things worth grilling than just meat. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the great taste of grilled fruits and vegetables, all part of a well balanced summer diet. Grilling gives fruits and veggies a smoky-sweet flavor, and it's amazingly easy. 

Here are a few tips that you will find helpful when considering what and how to grill fresh produce:

  • To avoid messy grilling, you will want to make use of skewers or a grill basket to prevent small chunks of vegetables from falling through the grate. Using two skewers will help prevent vegetables from spinning while turning on the grill. It’s ok to use bamboo skewers but be certain to soak them in water for 30 or more minutes before using to prevent them from burning.

  • Use a light brushing of oil on vegetables and fruits to prevent sticking. The vegetables must be dry before applying oil or the oil will not stick.

  • Don't peel vegetables before grilling — you'll get more nutrients and enjoy a smokier flavor. Leave the husk on corn to act as a natural insulator, keeping the steam in and preventing the corn from drying out.

  • Vegetables should be grilled over a medium heat or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move them to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside isn't cooking too quickly.

  • The length of cooking time will vary depending on the type of vegetable and how it has been prepared. When grilling harder vegetables, such as potatoes with other vegetables, they may need to be par-cooked before grilling to ensure that all the vegetables are done at the same time. Vegetables like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash, and tomatoes should be raw when placed on the grill.

  • Vegetables should have browned grill marks and be tender when pierced with a fork or the tip of a knife.

  • Cut vegetables into uniform size pieces so they will cook evenly. The larger and thicker the pieces the longer the grilling time.

  • Prevent vegetables from drying out on the grill by soaking them in cold water before cooking.

  • Seasoning the vegetables with a coarse salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt, before grilling will draw out extra moisture from the vegetables, which will intensify its sweetness and flavor.

  • Experiment by sprinkling different herbs and spices over vegetables while grilling.

  • Some veggies (including artichokes, beets, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and winter squash) can be pre-cooked to shorten grilling time and ensure that the inside and outside cook evenly. To pre-cook: Steam or blanch until just barely tender. Pat dry, brush lightly with oil, then grill until completely tender and lightly browned.

  • Ideal grilling fruits are firm and barely ripe. Watermelon, pineapple, plums and peaches can all take the heat. Soak them in liquor or drizzle with honey before grilling for an added burst of flavor.

  • To enhance the flavor of the fruit, try brushing cut fruits with melted butter and sprinkling with sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar, or lemon juice while grilling. Sugar tends to burn so it is best to apply it toward the end of cooking time.

  • Caution, most fruits contain a high level of water which will get extremely hot when grilling. Be certain to allow the fruit to cool slightly after removing it from the grill, or the fruit may cause serious burns to the mouth.

Okay, so much for the do & do not do's. How about some suggestions for great foods to grill.

Eggplant When grilled, eggplant becomes crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside—no breading or cheese necessary. Slice your eggplant in 1-inch thick slices and coat with extra-virgin olive oil. Place on your grill rack, cooking for 6 minutes per side or until eggplant is tender.

Peaches, nectarines or apricots Grilling these summer fruits deepens their natural sweetness, and it’s oh-so-easy to do: simply slice them in half, remove the pits, and put them facedown on a grill that’s been preheated to high. Remove when golden brown, about 5 minutes. Try brushing them with honey, sprinkling them with cinnamon, or topping them with Greek yogurt.

Pineapple Grilling pineapple cuts the fruit’s acidity and turns it into a treat that’s as sweet as candy. Cut your pineapple into wedges or rings and place it on the grill for about 3 minutes per side.

Asparagus Lightly charred asparagus tossed in a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper makes for an incredibly easy and nutritious summer side dish. Place directly on the grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Watermelon Sure we all know how delicious a cold slice of fresh watermelon can taste but grilled watermelon brings a whole new dimension to this fruit. To grill, cut your watermelon into big wedges or 1-inch-thick rounds. Place the fruit on a very hot grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Tomatoes Add a smoky flavor to pasta dishes and salads by grilling your tomatoes over high heat. Just slice the tomatoes in half, brush the cut sides with olive oil, and place on a grill heated to high for about 3 minutes.

Portobello mushrooms Vegans and vegetarians have discovered that a giant portabella makes a great meatless burger. So go ahead you carnivores. swap out your usual ground-beef patty for a Portobello cap and save on saturated fat and calories. Just brush them lightly with olive oil, place them gill-side down for 4 minutes, and then flip and cook for an additional 7 minutes.

Zucchini This easy to grill vegetable is abundant throughout the summer months. Thinly slice the squash lengthwise, coat lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and place on the grill for about a minute, or until marked and tender.

Carrots If you enjoy oven roasted carrots in the cooler months grilling is a great option for carrots. Peel them and put them on the grill over moderately high heat in a perforated grill pan for about 5 minutes.

Romaine Grilling romaine gives your salad a unique smoky flavor. Preheat your grill to medium-high, lightly oil the grates, and grill the lettuce, turning often, until charred in spots (about 2 minutes).

Corn on the cob You can grill the cobs in their husks or brush them with olive oil and place them directly on the grill. Either way, grilling your corn takes this summer staple to a new level.

Sweet potatoes Make grilled sweet potato fries by first pre-cooking the potatoes in a microwave for about 6 minutes. Then, cut them lengthwise into wedges, drizzle them with olive oil, and transfer them to the grill for 3 minutes per side.

Kale This super food is also adaptable to the grill. Blanche the kale before you grill to tenderize the leaves and prevent it from burning. Grill 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes.

Bananas Give your banana split a summery twist: slice banana in half lengthwise, coat with cooking spray, then grill over medium heat for 2 minutes per side.

I do hope that this will get you thinking about grilling lots of fresh fruits and vegetables this summer. I’d love to hear you comments about the new world grilled produce has opened for you and your family.

 

Bill Vella – Produce Manager

 

Cooked Vs Raw Vegetables - Which offers the most nutritional value?- Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It has long been debated by raw food enthusiasts and the more traditional schools of cooking as to which way to eat vegetables is healthier, raw or cooked.

Vegetables contain many nutrients essential for good health.  These plant foods supply carbohydrates, antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins.  The nutritional values of vegetables may change during processing or cooking.  Different preparation methods (including cooking temperatures) can affect the vitamin content of most vegetables.

While some foods may lose many of their nutritive benefits between harvesting and eating, using certain cooking techniques may help your vegetables retain many of these important nutrients.  Cooking is a process that is adopted to make food easily digestible, destroy disease causing germs, and to enhance its taste and flavor.  Naturally, it has several advantages as well as disadvantages.

Carbohydrates:  The starch swells during cooking and becomes gelatinous. Thus, cooking helps in proper digestion of carbohydrates.

Proteins:  Moderate heat splits protein and shrinks it in size.  As a result, it becomes more easily digestible.  However, severe heat (during roasting, baking and frying) reduces the nutritional value of proteins.

Thiamine:  About 20% to 50% of thiamine (Vitamin B1) is lost to cooking, with the greatest loss occurring when foods are boiled, baked or fried.  It is also depleted if you add soda for cooking vegetables.

Folic acid and Vitamin B12:  Both these vitamins tend to be lost when using cooking methods such as pressure cooking, roasting or frying.  In addition to the loss due to heat, folic acid and vitamin B12 are also lost when excess water is discarded after cooking.

Vitamin C:  This vitamin is lost by oxidation due to exposure to air and by discarding excess water after cooking. About 10% to 60% of vitamin C is lost during cooking depending upon its method and the vegetable cooked.  Furthermore, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium  are all lost when excess water is discarded after cooking.

Techniques for cooking vegetables include microwaving, steaming, stir-frying, deep-frying, baking and boiling. Using low heat and quick methods of cooking can help retain vitamins.

According to North Dakota State University, microwaving foods provides a method of cooking that helps to retain the vitamins in vegetables.  Microwaving foods takes less time than conventional methods and reduces the need for water.  Steaming vegetables until slightly tender may also help preserve both vitamins and color.  Another quick method of cooking, stir-frying, adds a crisp texture, without requiring long cooking times.

While eating vegetables raw or lightly cooked may help them retain healthy amounts of vitamins, cooking can provide benefits as well.  According to the arthritis foundation, cooked tomatoes supply three to four times more lycopene than raw tomatoes.  Cooking releases this antioxidant from the fibrous portions of the vegetables, making it easier to absorb.  Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables also supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw.

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2002 showed that cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene belongs to a group of antioxidant substances called carotenoids, which give fruits and vegetables their red, yellow and orange colorings. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which plays an important role in vision, reproduction, bone growth, and regulating the immune system.  Cooking can also help destroy bacteria and parasites.

In conclusion, there are strong arguments for eating both raw and cooked vegetables and since the latest guidelines from the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services calls for the consumption of 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day, we recommend that you balance what you eat and enjoy some prepared each way every day.  One thing we can assure you here at Prisco's Family Market is that you never need be bored eating the same old thing day after day.  We offer well over 175 different varieties of fresh vegetables in our store, and we have thousands of different vegetable recipes on our web site available 24/7.