The Nutrient-Dense Leftover You Should Always Save After Cooking

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
The Nutrient-Dense Leftover You're Probably Tossing & How This RD Uses It

We at mbg are all for mitigating food waste, so when we hear of a new sustainable cooking hack, we're all ears. This great one from registered dietitian Abby Cannon, J.D., R.D., reminded us that food isn't the only thing that gets wasted in the kitchen; water is also a valuable ingredient that too often gets washed down the drain.

But it turns out, the water you cook your veggies in really shouldn't be tossed. Here's why.

Why you should save your vegetable water.

You may have heard that certain vegetables lose nutrients when you cook them, and research backs this up. According to one study back in 2009, researchers found broccoli had significantly depleted levels of chlorophyll and vitamin C after cooking.

While you can avoid this by eating vegetables raw, some folks find raw veggies hard to digest, or just not as satisfying. But as Cannon notes, "Some nutrients, including water-soluble vitamins and some antioxidants, will enter the water," when you steam them. And you don't have to let that water—or those nutrients—go to waste!

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How to use it:

1. Drink it.

"Because nutrients leach from food into water, I'm a huge proponent of drinking water leftover from steaming vegetables," Cannon explains. While vegetable water might not sound all that appealing, you're drinking up all those nutrients that got into the water while simultaneously upping your water intake and not letting it go to waste.

2. Use it to cook.

If drinking the vegetable water straight up isn't your speed, have no fear. Cannon also recommends using it to prepare whole grains or pasta. Simply drain your vegetables over another pot, bring the water back to a boil, and toss in your grain of choice.

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3. Add it to soups and curries.

And lastly, you can use this water in basically any recipe that calls for cooking liquid. It'll blend right into things like broths, soups, and curries that already have vegetables in there to begin with.

When it comes to kitchen and food waste, this little trick reminds us that there's always room to get creative and use up as much as we can.

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