The following are some of the main seasonal vegetables for January:
Type: Leaf vegetable
Cooking: Kale can be cooked in a number of ways, including stir frying, steaming, microwaving, and boiling.
The healthiest option is steaming over a couple of inches of water, rather than boiling. Because the kale is not submerged in water, it loses less of its water-soluble nutrients such as vitamins B and C.
Some people eat kale raw by adding it to smoothies, but research shows cooking can actually make some vegetables healthier by boosting certain nutritional components.
Cooked kale, for example, has a higher level of carotene than in its raw state. Carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A, and is important for eyesight and the immune system. Cooking also boosts other fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins D, E and K.
So steamed kale – the healthiest cooking option – has far less vitamin C than raw kale, but has more carotene. This means it’s probably best to eat a diet of both cooked and raw kale.
Type: Root vegetable
Cooking: Like kale, carrots can be cooked in a number of ways, including stir frying, steaming, microwaving, boiling and poaching. The healthiest option is steaming. Carrots can also be roasted or grilled. All three methods destroy less nutrients than boiling and do not have the added fat needed for frying. Roasting also gives carrots a great taste, extracting their natural sweetness.
Type: Bulb and stem vegetable
Cooking: Again, steaming is the best method for leeks as less water-soluble nutrients are lost compared with boiling. This is also healthier than frying as it does not require the addition of fat.
Type: Leaf vegetable
Cooking: Steaming would once again be a healthier method of cooking than boiling or frying.
Cabbage can also be eaten raw as a salad, preserving its water-soluble nutrients such as vitamins B and C. If it is going to be boiled, a healthier way of doing this is to the reduce the amount of water it is cooked in – which decreases the loss of nutrients – and also reducing the cooking time so the cabbage is not cooked longer than necessary. The cabbage water can also be used as a base for soup.