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How to Make Perfect Steamed Vegetables

Cutting to the chase...

Steamed vegetables get a bad wrap. But when prepared right, they’re not just a healthy way to enjoy your veggies, they’re super delicious -- and versatile, to boot. We share our tips for making the perfect steamed veggies (every time!) and seasoning them like a plant-based boss.  

Digging Deeper

Steaming vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to eat them. But if you grew up with Grandma’s mushy steamed veggies you may worry it’s also the blandest way to eat them. Nothing like a mouthful of soggy broccoli to put you off steaming forever. But we’re asking you to give steamed vegetables another shot. Why? When done right, steamed vegetables are delicious and crisp! Plus, they’re a quick and easy way to prepare vegetables, so you can get out of the kitchen and on with your life.

All you need is a little guidance...

How to steam vegetables (perfectly) on the stove top

What you need for stovetop steaming:

  • Vegetables
  • A large pot and lid
  • A steamer basket or a heat-safe colander. While a steamer basket is a great addition to any plant-based kitchen, you don’t actually need one to steam veggies. A colander works just as well so long as it fits inside your pot (and is heat-safe).

Stovetop Instructions:

  1. Peel and chop your veggies so they’re roughly the same size; this way they cook at the same speed.
  2. Grab the large pot and place your steamer basket and/or colander inside of it. Fill the pot with enough water to just about touch the bottom of the steamer or colander.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and add your chopped veggies.
  4. Cover loosely! You want the steam to have somewhere to go to prevent over-cooking (AKA grandma’s mush).
  5. Set a timer for 3 minutes and check in on your vegetables.

Note: soft veggies like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans will cook faster (in 4-6 minutes) than harder ones like carrots, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and squash (6-12 minutes). Peas and non-cruciferous leafy greens (spinach, baby bok choy, arugula) are lightning fast -- ready in 3 minutes or less.

Pro tip: if you’re mixing and matching from these groups, add the longer-cooking veggies first.

How to steam vegetables (perfectly) in the microwave

What you need for microwave steaming:

  • Veggies
  • A microwave-safe bowl
  • Plastic wrap or a microwave-safe lid

Microwave Instructions:

  1. Peel and chop your veggies so they’re the same size.
  2. Grab a microwave-safe bowl and add your vegetables so they all fit in one layer.
  3. Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the vegetables.
  4. Cover the bowl with microwave-safe plastic wrap and pull back one corner (to let out that steam) and microwave for 2 minutes. You can also use a loose fitting lid instead of plastic wrap.
  5. Not quite done after 2 minutes? No worries. Add a splash of additional water (if it’s all gone) and microwave again at 1-minute intervals until desired tenderness.

Strapped for time? Microwave-ready steam veggie packs from the grocery store are a perfect solution for the busy plant-based eater.

OK, OK...your vegetables are steamed up to perfection. Now for the fun part.

10 ways to dress up steamed veggies

Give your steamed vegetables some pizazz with our go-to seasoning tricks:

1. Sprinkle with low-sodium Tamari/soy sauce. Or try Bragg’s Coconut Aminos for a soy-free and just-as-tasty alternative.

2. Add nutritional yeast! No plant-based kitchen is complete without nutritional yeast and it’s the perfect addition to your steamed vegetables (or popcorn -- seriously, try it on popcorn! You can thank us later). Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast and it adds a slightly nutty and cheese-like flavor. Not to mention, it’s packed with vitamin B12. Here’s the scoop on why you need B12 in your plant-based diet ASAP.

3. Toss on some minced garlic (sauteed first) or if you’re short on time, lay on that garlic powder. Maybe carry mints for later though...

4. Go for citrus! A squirt of lemon juice or lime juice adds zip in seconds.

5. Give it a tang with balsamic vinegar.

6. Experiment with fresh herbs: dill, chives, cilantro, parsley, basil, mint!

7. Get Asian inspired: whisk fresh ginger and some Chinese 5 spice into Bragg’s Coconut Aminos then toss to combine.

8. Top with toasted sesame seeds for a delightful crunch.

9. Lay on the heat with a dash (or more) of red chili flakes.

10. Don’t be afraid to explore your spice cabinet. Here’s our easy guide to salt-free seasonings. And good news: you probably have most of these on hand already!

And there you have it!

There’s a whole wide world of delicious steamed vegetables out there and it’s yours for the taking. Remember, the perfect steamed veggies are all about:

  • Uniformly sized/chopped veggies so they cook at the same rate.
  • Keeping an eye on the clock.
  • Letting the steam escape while you’re cooking.
  • And last but not least, seasoning!

What you should do now

  1. We have been where you are and we’ve helped thousands of people (just like you) transition to eating a plant based diet. If you are looking for a guide that can help you with some of the big questions, and dramatically reduce your stress, this FREE Ultimate Little Guide to Plant-Based Eating is a great place to start.
  2. If you're interested in Weight Loss, Download this fantastic FREE guide Ultimate (little) Guide to weight loss
  3. If you’d like to learn about plant-based living go to our MamaSezz Blog where you can read hundreds of “How To” articles. If you’d like to learn about plant-based cooking go to our Recipes Section for easy step by step favorites.
  4. If you enjoyed this article, then so will your friends, so why not share it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Email

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