Tip #1: Consider how you season them. Make sure to keep your vegetables low calorie! Avoid sauces, butter, gravies and toppings like bacon, cheese or sour cream which add extra calories and fat. Instead, season vegetables with herbs, garlic, lemon juice or steam in low sodium chicken broth.
Tip #2: Consider how you prepare them. Vegetables are extremely healthy on their own, but how you prepare them can impact their nutritional value.
Most vegetables are healthiest in their raw state as they contain the optimal amount of vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, vegetables such as onions, garlic, broccoli and cauliflower are healthier when cooked.
Keep in mind that not all cooking techniques are equal. Some methods decrease the nutritional value of vegetables more than others. Boiling in large amounts of water should be avoided. Doing so causes a considerable amount of water soluble vitamins to leach out of the vegetables thus decreasing their nutritional value. Instead, steam vegetables in a small amount of water for no more than 3-4 minutes to retain nutrients.
Stir-frying is also a great cooking method for optimal nutrition. Vegetables are exposed to high heat for a short period of time which prevents the loss of many vitamins. Additionally, the small amount of oil used helps seal in nutrients.
Tip #3: Consider when you eat them. Vegetables are best when eaten shortly after harvesting. As they age, nutrients are lost and nutritional value decreases. For maximum nutritional benefits, eat in-season vegetables within a few days of purchasing.