One is to create mostly raw Salad Meals. The other is to prepare mostly cooked Steam Meals. Both approaches best optimize our eating patterns within the HumanaNatura technique of Natural Eating, and easily and reliably produce tempting and satisfying meals. This post provides step-by-step guidance on making steamed meals the HumanaNatura way (click here for info on salad-based meals). Of course, the two approaches can be combined.
Cubed Salmon and Veggies Steam Meal
Steam Meal Basics
Steaming meals is perhaps the healthiest form of cooking, since no cooking oils are used and foods are only heated to the temperature of steam. Steaming is also a very efficient form of cooking, normally with meals fully cooked in under ten minutes using only a small heat source. And steaming can produce beautiful meals – as you can see in the photo above and as you can quickly discover for yourself – especially when whole and naturally healthy foods are used.
Importantly, while you can buy a high or low-tech steam cooker, this really isn’t necessary. All you need is a saucepan, wok, or pot to cook with – and a lid to hold in the steam. Ideally, your lid will be made of tempered glass, so you can watch your food cook, and also ensure you have not run out of water, without lifting the lid.
Overall, the process of steaming a meal is quite simple. We start with our densest foods – those normally requiring the most cooking time – and progressively add in less dense foods that require less cooking. At the end, we then plate and organize our meal, and garnish and dress it, much as we would a Salad Meal or any other meal.
Four Key Practices
In addition to these steaming basics, there are four key points to keep in mind.
First is that steam is hot! This may seem obvious, but many people beginning to steam foods underestimate the heat and cooking power of steam. So please be careful, with your hands and face near escaping steam, and also taking care not to over-cook foods.
Second, food steaming is a bit of an art and will require some practice to learn how much water to put in your pan when preparing a steamed meal. As a general rule, you want to use enough water so that you run out if water just as your meal has finished cooking (or are left with a small amount of water as a seasoned and nutrient-rich broth).
Always, you will want to monitor your pan or steamer to make sure you don’t run out of water prematurely. If you are running low on water, you can of course add more. Over time, you will develop your intuition about how much water you need, and how this amount varies with different foods. (Please note that many high-tech food steamers will automatically shut off if they run out of water.)
A third point is that food size matters. By this, we mean that smaller foods will take less time to cook, since they have more surface area by weight or volume of food. Given this, foods are often cut, diced, sliced, or shredded prior to steaming to reduce cooking time (and to eliminate the need for cutting food when eating).
The fourth point is the amount of time it takes to steam different foods. This will vary depending on the food, its density and size, and your palate. In general: 1) protein foods should be cooked completely through, 2) higher density vegetables cooked just to the point of tenderness, and 3) low density and cookable leafy vegetables should be steamed only momentarily.
To help you assess and plan needed cooking times, the following general guidelines should help you to estimate the needed steaming times for a range of foods within the HumanaNatura approach (note that grains and beans are not part of the HumanaNatura diet):
- Small fillet of meat or poultry: 8-10 minutes
- Small fillet of fish, or unshelled eggs: 5-7 minutes
- Diced meat or poultry: 4-6 minutes
- Diced fish or small shellfish: 3-5 minutes
- Shelled (out of shell) or scrambled eggs: 2-3 minutes
- Reheating pre-cooked proteins: 1-2 minutes
- Diced root vegetables and squashes: 3-5 minutes
- Broccoli, peppers, and similar veggies: 2-3 minutes
- Shredded cabbages and hearty greens: 1-2 minutes
- Spinach and other light but cookable greens: 30 seconds
Steam Meals In Five Easy Steps
With these preliminaries, let’s see how it all works in practice with an example steamed meal. What follows is a five-step process for making delicious and optimally nutritious Steam Meals the HumanaNatura way. Please note that the example is for a single-serving and higher carbohydrate meal, but the same steps apply to both multi-serving and lower carbohydrate meals as well.
> Step #1 – Base
In your pan, wok, or steam cooker, form a linear or circular steaming base with dense root vegetables and/or squashes. Here, we are using diced carrot, yam, shallot, and ginger, along with crushed garlic.
> Step #2 – Protein
If you are cooking a raw protein, other than eggs, place the protein on top of your base foods. If you are reheating a pre-cooked protein, or cooking a whole or scrambled egg, set it aside until the next step. In our example meal, we are using a small amount of cubed raw salmon, seasoned with red pepper.
With or without your protein, add enough water to cook your meal. This will require practice and judgment, but a good starting point is enough water to generously cover the bottom of your pan, wok, or pot. Cover your steaming vessel and begin steaming on medium-high heat, but reducing to medium heat once the water begins to boil.
> Step #3 – Mix
When your base and protein are about halfway cooked, add your mix of medium-density vegetables on top of them, again using the base of root vegetables to elevate your food above the cooking water as best you can. Here, we are using cut broccoli and asparagus, sliced bell peppers, and shredded cabbage as our mix.
If you are reheating a pre-cooked protein or cooking one or more eggs as your protein, place it on top of your mix (shredded cabbage and similar veggies work well to suspend eggs above the cooking water). Before re-covering your meal, check to make sure you have enough water for about three more minutes of steaming.
> Step #4 – Greens
When your meal is about 30 seconds from being done, add your low density greens. In our example meal, we are using chopped cilantro. Cover and continue steaming briefly, before removing your meal from its heat source and letting the meal sit covered for a minute or two.
> Step #5 – Garnish, Dress & Serve
Using a spatula or other utensils, plate and arrange your cooked meal. Then, garnish and dress your meal to taste, and serve promptly. In our example meal, we have used a splash of soy sauce, a bit of sesame oil, sesame seeds, black pepper, and a zig-zag drizzle of chilli sauce. A feast for the eyes and palate!
Healthy Eating – And Living!
We hope our Steam Meal guidelines and five-step cooking process will help you create delicious, inspiring, and nutritionally superior meals the HumanaNatura way. With a bit of practice, you can quickly master the art of steamed meal preparation and enjoy our science-based, renaturalized approach to modern eating each day.
Learn about the key principles of creating delicious and nutritious meals via OurPlate, HumanaNatura’s simple natural eating model for designing optimally healthy meals. Experience how this 100% natural approach to your daily meals can change the way you eat, feel, and live.
You can learn even more about the science and art of modern natural nutrition in the Natural Eating section of HumanaNatura’s comprehensive Personal Health Program.
Tell others about HumanaNatura…give the gift of modern natural life!