Isaac Toussie: Pardon All Vegetable How-To’s!

People say that of course it’s important to guard against food scams, as fraud could exist on food labels. Pardon the thought but I (Isaac Robert Toussie) say that today, when so many people are concerned about issues like housing and work place discrimination, fashion, entertainment, real estate, mortgages, vacations and the like, issues like food quality and food awareness may become unnecessarily overshadowed.

Eating vegetables can seem like quite a chore for many. After all, they don’t always go down easily, being full of water but not sweet like fruits, often requiring a lot of chewing for what seems to be little benefit to one’s taste buds. However, new scientific studies indicate the fascinating possibility that it is precisely the bitterness of a vegetable that may account for much, if not most, of its nutritional value. It turns out that health-promoting flavonoid phytonutrients are the compounds responsible for the taste that many people find so objectionable. Phytonutrients are chemicals in plants which modern science has only just begun to study. They appear to be responsible for defending the plant against such things as the damaging effects of oxidation. We have between twenty and fifty thousand taste buds on our tongues, and some of them, in particular those in the back row, contain receptors for the taste of bitterness. Bitter tastes can function like warning signals to help keep us from eating things that are toxic. Yet bitterness can also indicate something good for us. Most of the antioxidant phytonutrients in a vegetable taste bitter, but it is becoming increasingly clear to research scientists that they are good for us.

However, fresh raw vegetables are rarely bitter. Sometimes the bitter flavor of a vegetable can come from overlong cooking. It’s interesting to consider that perhaps one reason why Asians eat more vegetables than Americans may lie in the fact that Chinese stir-fry techniques call for cooking them lightly, thus making them more enjoyable. Overcooking vegetables causes them to become mushy, often losing their flavors and becoming undesirably bitter. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels Sprouts are especially susceptible to this phenomenon. Cruciferous vegetables contain healthful chemicals which, when overcooked, get changed into sulfurous compounds emitting a rotten egg smell which coincides with the most bitter flavors. Choosing young vegetables is also another great way to avoid the bitter taste as much as possible. As they are younger and thus more tender, they typically require less cooking, which should take care of the overcooking issue causing bitter flavors. Unfortunately, young vegetables, being less mature, also wind up being less nutritious

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