A fairly inexpensive way to prepare nutrient-rich vegetables is to use a steam cooker as opposed to boiling them in a pot. Steam cookers can cost up to about $150, but most are far less, usually in the $50 range. Produced by such specialty kitchen companies as Wolfgang Puck, Sanyo, Cuisinart, Presto and Hamilton Beach, a steam cooker is often a multifunctional appliance, doubling as a rice cooker. Whether preparing vegetables, rice or both, steam cookers offer a fast solution for making healthy, tasty meals.
Benefits of Steaming
Rather than putting fresh vegetables into a pot of boiling water and cooking them until they are overly soft, consider steaming them instead. Most of the nutrients found in vegetables is lost into the boiling water. Not only does boiling reduce the nutritional value of food, but all of the vitamins and minerals are poured out with the water. Steamers soften vegetables nicely without saturating them with water and, more importantly, without taking away their nutrients.
Dedicated steam cookers typically feature 2 or 3 tiers for steaming multiple layers of veggies. Those units that double as a rice cooker may include a small rack onto which you can put the food to be steamed. The best models feature a stainless steel base with inlets to add water as the food is being prepared. Other features include a multi-quart capacity, timer, auto shutoff and collapsible trays for easier cleanup.