Steamed Vegetables

By Jessica Campbell, MS, FNTP

I know, I know, this article title is about as boring as a documentary on dirt, but I urge you to read on. Steamed vegetables have a bad reputation because the industrial revolution gave birth to limp, canned veggies and health foodists swore by their flavorless mounds of pulp. I assure you my steamed vegetables are none of those things.


My Quick Meal Solution

When I’m short on time I pull out the steamer and quickly throw in a handful of random vegetables. A sweet potato, some cauliflower, collards, etc. I close the lid and let the stove prepare my food while I tidy up the kitchen. 10 minutes later, the veggies are soft and I have a nice warm lunch.

To make this extra healthy, don’t forget to add a healthy fat. Of course steamed vegetables by themselves are not enticing, but add a pinch of sea salt, a spoonful of grass fed butter, and they become glorious!

I sprinkle mine with a dash of cinnamon which always reminds of comfort food. Cinnamon can actually make you feel satiated, and I am always satisfied with my warm, buttered veggies.

Always add enough healthy fat to slow down the absorption rate of the carbs. Without butter, these veggies will turn right into glucose and can act like a sugar rush in your system. So, not only is that butter delicious, but it makes vegetables more healthy!


How to Steam Vegetables


  1. Rough chop a few vegetables about the same size and set them in the steamer basket. You can choose the leftover veggies in your refrigerator that need to be eaten and enjoy a selection rather than all carrots.
  2. Fill up the pot 1 inch high with clean filtered water, cover with a lid, and set it on high.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and then set the basket in the pot.
  4. Turn the burner down to medium and crack the lid a bit, especially if there is not a built in hole for steam to escape.
  5. Soft vegetables like broccoli, greens, cauliflower, or zucchini steam for about 3 minutes.
  6. Tubers like potatoes, sweet potato, or pumpkin may take up to 10 minutes until tender. Test by poking the vegetable with a fork.
  7. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt, a little cinnamon or paprika, and a spoonful of real butter. Adding fresh herbs is a nice addition too.

A warm lunch is less than 15 minutes away...


Don’t Have a Steamer Basket? No Problem!

A steamer basket is a very inexpensive and useful kitchen tool, but if you find yourself without one, there are other options. While reading the clankitchen website, I learned you can substitute a steamer basket for a colander or strainer. What a great idea!

When you’re ready to start steaming, nothing is stopping you!


Why Steam?

There are a ton of ways to prepare your vegetables. You could boil, roast, stir-fry, or eat raw. So why choose steam?

Steaming is the best way to keep nutrients intact. Many cooking methods cause a certain loss of vitamins, but steaming seems to cause the least amount of loss. For example, boiling can cause the vitamins to leach into the water and escape from your meal altogether.

It’s also interesting to consider that cooking vegetables can actually be healthier than eating them raw! The process of cooking can break down the tough parts of the plant and make it easier for your body to absorb all of the nutrients.


A Rainbow of Options

If you’ve been around The Food Foundation for a while, you know I love to encourage a rainbow plate!



These vibrant vegetables are the most nutrient dense of the color options. Greens lower cholesterol, prevent the growth of cancers, improve your mood, and prevent osteoporosis! They are fabulous lung and liver cleansers and support healthy circulation.

Broccoli is an excellent steaming option. High in fiber and containing more calcium than a glass of milk, broccoli really packs a punch! Broccoli pairs very well with Chicken and Rice.



Orange plants are known for their beta-carotene.  This antioxidant promotes eye and brain health and can prevent skin from sun damage. Turns out, the old saying about eating carrots to keep your eyesight has a lot of truth to it!

My steaming recommendation for the orange group is sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes are another excellent source of fiber. They also contain vitamins A, C, and B6. Try pairing your sweet potatoes with your next pork chop.



Whenever you think of red foods I want you to remember they can prevent cancer. Deep red pigments are often high in vitamin C and lycopene, both known for their antioxidant properties. The American Cancer Society and other research groups have linked antioxidants with preventing cancer!

Throw a handful of chopped red bell peppers into your next steamed vegetable mixture to get your daily boost of those antioxidants. Bonus, they are very low in calories! Red bell peppers are an excellent addition to your next taco or fajita night.



A Bonus Recipe

Steamed Vegetables with Salmon


Now that we have learned about all of the benefits of steaming vegetables and eating through the rainbow, it’s time to put it together into a delicious meal. Don’t forget to add a healthy addition of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt to bring this dish together for a quick lunch. Think of using a fresh herb to boost nutrition and flavor.

Fun Fact: Healthy omega 3 fats in salmon helps to absorb the vitamin A in the orange veggies.


Ingredients- 6

Prep time- 5 minutes

Cook time- 10 minutes


  • A few vegetables: sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrot, beets, zucchini, turnip, or cabbage
  • 1 Salmon filet
  • Water for the steam pot
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • A little chopped herb, my favorite is fresh dill with salmon


  1. Chop up the vegetables into similar sized pieces to cook evenly
  2. Bring the pot 1/4 filled with water up to a boil
  3. Place vegetables and salmon filet in the steamer basket
  4. Cover and steam gently on low for 5-10 minutes
  5. Serve with butter, sea salt, and some fresh herbs


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Movement For Detoxification -- Smoked Black Cod Salad -- A Healthier Thanksgiving From Food Foundation -- Clam Chowder