When it comes to cooking, it seems like faster is becoming synonymous with better. Time has become precious and anything that saves us time must be good, right? However, when it comes to your family’s health, be wary of shortcuts.

Canned vegetables are generally fast and easy – just throw them on the stove and go. But is that really the best thing for you and your family? It takes only a little more effort to steam fresh or frozen vegetables, and this makes a much healthier option for your family.

As you boil food, many of the vitamins and minerals leave the veggies and stay with the water, or whatever liquid you’re boiling them in. If you cut up the veggies prior to cooking, even more of the vital nutrients escape, depending on how much of the inside is exposed to the liquid. While you can keep these nutrients by cooking your vegetables into a soup, eating soup every day will probably get pretty boring and isn’t always practical.

Canning is a great way to preserve vegetables over time, but it requires the addition of salt and other preservatives. We know too much salt can raise your blood pressure and cause other health issues, but we really don’t know all the side effects of the other chemicals added to canned food.

A lot of people choose canned veggies over steamed because they think steamed vegetables just don’t have much flavor. Canned vegetables get a lot of their taste from the salt and other preservatives. These are not only unhealthy for you, they’re not nearly as tasty as what you can do by using your own spices and other natural ingredients.

When you steam veggies, you can play with different tastes and flavors; it just takes a little extra effort. You can use juices, spices, and other foods. If you’re new to cooking, you can find hundreds of recipes online or in cookbooks. If you’re more adventurous, you can forget the cookbook and just start experimenting.

So, we know that steaming is best, but what is the best option to start with? Obviously fresh vegetables are generally more healthy than frozen. Many frozen vegetable have preservatives and other ingredients to help them stay fresh and look and taste better. However, if you’re in a rush, frozen vegetables are a fast, inexpensive option and you don’t have to worry about them rotting.

Another option that’s recently become available are vegetables that steam in the microwave. The convenience of these is that they take less time, require less clean-up, and are often already seasoned (and even have sauce added). Not only do many people have health concerns about microwaving, but these products often contain more preservatives and the sauces may be less healthy than something you can make yourself.

So, next time you’re at the grocery store, skip the canned veggies and give steaming a try. You’ll probably be happy you did.

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