Friday, February 19, 2016

All Steamed Up

Vegetables are an important part of any meal but especially dinner time. The problem with that is that they have to be made after a busy day when most home chefs are too tired to do anything. Cleaning, coring, paring - they're all too  much. What to do? Get steamed! Steamed veggies are the way to go for a  quick yet healthy dinner.

Many companies from Stop & Shop to the mainstream Bird's Eye are now offering steamer bags full of veggies. They can be put into  the microwave for a few minutes or the vegetables can be removed and simmered for five minutes in boiling water.The first method is the easiest. It works like a bag of popcorn with the bag puffing up after a few minutes in the microwave to signal that the veggies have been thoroughly steamed. The second method, the old fashioned way is for those who don't like the idea of nuked foods.It's a tad more labor intensive with salting and boiling the water ,then adding the vegetables and draining them. One of the best things, besides the cooking time,is the variety.I am in love with the Stop & Shop vegetable varieties, from the peas which are oh so sweet to the Brussels sprouts. They even have mixed veggie bags as does their national rival Bird's Eye.Of course, Bird's Eye has always been the king of frozen veggies and they have the widest choice of steamed vegetables.. They include rice and veggie bags, with combinations such as multigrain blend with tomato, spinach and onions along with brown rice with peas, carrots and corn.

There are many pluses to having a bag of steamed vegetables on the menu.They are a low calorie alternative to calorie dense sides such as baked mac or French fries.The Brussels sprouts are only forty-five calories with zero fat while string beans are around thirty-eight. Any home chef will marvel at the packs' versatility too. One of my favorites is string bean salad, made with the cooled beans . After they've been steamed  they're put into a bowl and then cooled for ten to fifteen minutes.After that, it's adding a finely chopped onion or even a good dash of onion powder, olive oil and red wine vinegar . Then it's back into the fridge to chill some more until dinner.It's a taste of summer in winter, and perfect with grilled chicken. Thanks to the easiness of cooking the Brussels sprouts,I can make a family recipe more often.It's a delicious  side that starts off with a very small sprinkle of Parmesan cheese  on the sprouts followed by a scant  tablespoon of melted margarine (it used to be butter but that stopped ,thanks to my new diet). The veggies can be mixed with instant rice, whether brown or white for simple and filling rice bowls Just add some Kikoman and they're good to go.

Get steamed when you think about steamed veggies. They're an easy and nutritious side to any main meal. Buy a few bags for quick cooking and good eating.

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