Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Steam Cooking 101: BMI = 32

I've had a little time to play with my steam cooker and I've come to the conclusion that this little countertop appliance is really helping me to finally get enough veggies in me to appease the Canada Food Guides. It's a bit flimsy but has a great warranty (5 years), although I've decided that if it breaks they can just keep all the money because it has, for me, proven the value of steam-cooking at home. I've already shopped around and found there is a countertop steam cooker with stainless-steel trays; It costs 4 times as much as my current model but I'll drop that money in a heartbeat - if the trays on this one actually do crack.

Steam ovens are an essential appliance in a commercial kitchen - well, maybe not in a pizzeria. I've used them in cafeterias, care homes, and fine dining restaurants. The principal benefit of a steam cooker, in my opinion, is that they are very forgiving if you happen to forget about your rice or leftover mashed potatoes for a little while. From a health-minded perspective, steam cooking removes fewer nutrients from veggies than boiling while allowing one to cook without the fat used in stir-frying.

I still add a little fat to my veggies because I spray them with non-stick cooking spray so that I can coat them with a dusting of salt and pepper before cooking. If you let the veggies rest, in contact with salt and pepper, for 20 minutes before cooking, the salt and pepper sink into the veggies a little (and then even more during cooking) so that you don't get old fashioned hospital-food.

So here is my next steam-cooker recipe: yellow beetroot and broccoli on lemon/pepper/mirepoix rice. I'll be topping it with some store-bought, shaved roast beef.

So let's do a little mise-en-place. Don't worry too much about the portions other than the ratio of water to basmati rice is about 1 to 1 by volume. The basmati rice runs at 372 calories per 100 grams; I use about 100 grams of it but usually just measure out two 2-ounce sauce cups of dry rice and do the same with the water. Toss some salt and pepper into the rice - take it easy on the salt and be liberal with the pepper.

The other veggies are up to you so feel free to experiment. The veggies will contribute some calories but most are not calorie-dense so I just try to get enough to get me near 500 total calories before I add the meat. I'll be putting the carrot, red onion, and celery into the rice. I'll also be adding a wedge of lemon (not pictured above) and some hot sauce. I have coated the yellow beetroot and broccoli with non-stick cooking spray so I could get some salt and pepper to stick to them. They'll just stay on the plate (refrigerate while resting) until it is time to put them in the cooker.

So I made sure the reservoir was full in the steam cooker and put the rice, mirepoix veggies, lemon wedge, and hot sauce in the rice tray. I set the timer for 32 minutes (you'll have to adjust this for different types of rice and different portion counts and sizes) and now I'll just let the steamer get up to temp and start cooking that rice.

When the timer got down to 8 minutes I tossed the yellow beetroot into the top tray. When it got down to 4 minutes I tossed the broccoli in as well. When the steamer reached 0 and started beeping, I plated that meal up with shaved-thin roast beef that I bought ready made at the grocery store - about 60 grams or 100 calories.

So, there you have it. That's about 375 calories of rice, 100 of beef, and let's just guess at 100 calories for all the veggies and the slice of lemon. I made sure to buy a soya sauce that had no added sugars and splashed a little over the dish after plating.

This was a very tasty meal and very filling. Mind you, I consume almost no added-sugars these days, and also starved my palate for two months so that when I began adding meals like this to my diet they would seem very flavourful. I admit that I would enjoy some sweet'n'sour pork on that rice a little more but if given the choice of eating the way I used to or having this meal I would dive straight into this meal any day.

This meal is the template for how I will be cooking this week. For the steamed veggies I have broccoli, yellow beetroot, green beans, and carrot. For the veggies in the rice I have celery, red onion, carrot, or red bell pepper. For the protein, I have thin sliced roasted pork and beef that I bought ready made at the grocery store.

My prep time on this meal was about 10 minutes although I have mad knife skills, although remarkably crappy knives at home considering the kit I keep at work. While it cooked I was able to finish some laundry and transfer some wine from primary to secondary fermentation - oh, and I also sponged out and cleaned the floor of my frigo.

So there you go, super healthy food, not very expensive, easy to prepare, and very little clean-up afterwards. Eating right has never been so easy.

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