EtR PROGRAM UPDATES:
- For those who celebrate Christmas, we hope you had a wonderful day full of hope, joy, laughter and delicious food!
- I’m looking forward to a great New Year! I hope you are too. May it be full of colorful fruits and veggies that are even more delicious than they are beautiful!
Welcome to Week 5 of the Eat the Rainbow Fruit and Veggie Challenge!
This week, we’re covering our fifth common produce-related myth.
MYTH: Raw foods are more nutritious than cooked foods.
FACT: Some nutrients are deactivated during the cooking process, but some are activated. Consuming food items cooked and raw are both nutritious ways to eat.
WHY DO WE COOK FOOD?
Roasting, steaming, sautéeing, baking, boiling – we have many methods to cook our food. But why do we do it? The process of cooking food helps to break down fiber and plant cell walls, which makes fruits and vegetables easier to digest. This process can also make it easier for our bodies to absorb nutrients from the cooked foods.
Not to mention that cooking food often improves its taste and aroma, making it more enjoyable to eat. Who wants to eat cold food all the time?
However, some say that cooking fruits and vegetables destroys the vitamins and minerals found in those foods. These people (often called “raw foodists”) think it is better to eat your fruits and vegetables in their raw, uncooked form.
This is partially true – cooking has been shown to decrease vitamin C levels in fruits and vegetables due to the unstable nature of the vitamin, which is easily degraded through heat exposure.
However, cooking has also been shown to increase levels of certain antioxidants in fruits and vegetables such as lycopene, carotenoids, polyphenols, and beta-carotene.
All in all, neither cooked nor raw foods can be considered “healthier” than the other. Whatever makes you more likely to eat more produce is the best option – if it tastes good, you’re going to eat it. The most important thing is to eat your fruits and veggies, no matter how they’re prepared.
Try preparing one of your favorite fruits or veggies in a new way! If you usually eat it raw, try it cooked! If you usually sautée it, try it roasted! If you’re looking for a new idea for sweet potatoes, try out our recipe for easy roasted sweet potatoes! Take a picture of your creation and post it to our Facebook page.
PRODUCE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: SWEET POTATOES
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that have great health benefits. They are rich in fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and potassium. They are a good example of a healthy complex carbohydrate and are a great source of energy.
HOW TO USE
Sweet potatoes can be baked, roasted, and steamed. Eat them whole, cubed, cut into fries, mashed, or blended into a soup. They are a great addition to savory or sweet dishes! For a savory option, try sprinkling them with some smoked paprika. For a sweet version, use cinnamon instead.
Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
½ stick butter
2 cups sweet potatoes (boiled and mashed)
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 lb elbow macaroni
8 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Cook macaroni according to the package directions
- Meanwhile, add butter, sweet potato, milk, salt, and pepper to a saucepan on medium heat. Allow the mixture to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon
- Mix cheese into sweet potato mixture and stir until melted
- Add cooked macaroni noodles to the sweet potato mixture and stir until noodles are coated in sauce. Serve.
– Julie and Intern Amber