Food & Cooking

A Simpleguide To Steaming

Things You Should Know About Steaming

Steaming is a wonderful method of cooking which is versatile, simple and healthy. The popularity of steam cooking has seen a resurgence in recent years as demand for more nutritious and reduced fat meals has increased. The nature of steaming means that foods retain more of their valuable vitamins and nutrients when compared to boiling and because cooking oils are not required, fat content is less.
Steaming works by boiling water continuously which in turn vaporizes into steam. It is this steam and heat that cooks the food keeping it moist and tender. The food in a steamer makes no contact with the boiling water. The steam circulates around the steaming tiers evenly cooking your food to perfection.
While there are numerous new electrical steamers on the market today, the method of cooking by steam is an ancient one. The Chinese have been using steam to cook for more than 3000 years and even today it is still widely used on a daily basis. In the west, steaming is more often used to cook vegetables and fish however there are many rice, meat and poultry dishes that are perfect for the steamer. Our recipes include a fantastic mix of vegetable, seafood and meat dishes.
The healthy and nutritious nature of steaming makes it ideal for anyone looking to maintain a low calorie diet. If you are following a calorie controlled diet or are keen to maintain and manage your weight our skinny steaming recipes all fall below 300, 400 and 500 calories per portion. Each delicious recipe makes two servings and have been tried, tasted &  tested in both a stove-top and electric tiered steamer.

There are different options to choose when steaming your food. Below is a brief description of each.

Electric Steamers
These are the most popular steamers and are very reasonably priced. The benefit of using an electric steamer is that it heats up the water and begins to steam almost immediately so is a quicker method of cooking. It also means your hob/stove top is free (and clean). All electric steamers come with a timer so your food will not overcook meaning you can leave the device to do its job while you get on with other things. There are different sizes of appliances ranging from single tier to two or three tiers to suit larger families. Most have see-through plastic tiers so you can watch your food cooking and are generally dishwasher friendly.

Stove Top Steamers
These work on the same principle as electric steamers. A large pan forms the base in which water is brought to the boil. There are a further two or three tiers that sit on top of this pan where food is placed to steam. Generally you cannot see food in these tiers as they are stainless steel although the top tier will usually have a see-through glass lid.

Bamboo Steamers
Popular in Asian cooking, bamboo steamers are predominantly used over boiling water in a wok but can also be used with a pan. These can be stacked to provide two or three tiers. The advantage of bamboo steamers is that they are cheap to buy and the bamboo absorbs moisture that might normally condense on the underside of the steamer lid.
The disadvantage to this type of steaming is that they are difficult to clean, cannot be placed in the dishwasher and the bamboo may absorb and retain the flavour of the food you are cooking.
As with any kitchen appliance, convenience, suitability, reliability, performance and price are all factors in deciding which one works best for you.

Steaming Tips

- Always ensure there is enough water in your pan/steamer to last for the length of the steaming process and remember to top up if necessary.
- Always try to use the freshest possible ingredients when steaming. 
Fruit and veg that are damaged or not completely fresh can have a tainted taste when steamed. The steaming process accentuates the taste of the food.
- Use lean meat and fish. Lean products require less cooking time.
- All food should ideally be of a similar size to ensure even cooking.
- When using tiers, place the food that will take longest to cook on the bottom tier and the food that takes less time on the upper tiers.
- Make sure there is adequate space around the food in the steamer compartment to allow steam to circulate and cook evenly.
- Defrost frozen meat, fish and poultry before steaming.
- When using the stove-top method of steaming, ensure that the bottom layer does not make contact with the water otherwise the food will boil and not steam.
- Ensure the lid of your steamer fits correctly to prevent steam from escaping.
- Any foods that are likely to drip when cooking should always be placed on the bottom tier of your steamer to avoid tainting other foods.
- Steaming times in the recipes should be treated as a guide only. Always check that your food is cooked through before serving.


Steaming Cooking Guide

The following times are a guide based on servings for two people. Timings may vary depending on the size of food, the space between food in the steamer and the quality of the ingredients.

Meat/Poultry: Cooking Time (2 Portions)
Chicken breast (whole boneless): 15-20 mins
Duck breast (whole boneless): 20-25 mins
Chicken drumsticks: 20-25 mins
Turkey escalope: 15-20 mins
Pork fillet: 15-20 mins
Lamb steaks: 15-20 mins
Sausages: 10-15 mins

Fish/Seafood: Cooking Time (2 Portions)
Thick fillet of fish: 10-15 mins
Thin fillet of fish: 8-12 mins
Whole fish: 15-25 mins
Mussels: 5-10 mins
King prawns (raw): 8-10 mins
Scallops: 4-6 mins

Vegetables : Cooking Time
(2 Portions)
Asparagus: 10-15 mins
Broad beans: 10-15 mins
Broccoli: 10-15 mins
Shredded Cabbage: 8-12 mins
Cauliflower florets: 10-15 mins
Courgette: 5-10 mins
Green beans: 10-15 mins
Leeks: 15-20 mins
Mange tout: 5-10 mins
Mushrooms: 5-10 mins
Peas (fresh): 3-5 mins
Peas (frozen): 10-12 mins
Peppers: 10-15 mins
Spinach: 4-6 mins
Sprouts: 15-20 mins
Sweet corn: 4-6 mins
Sweet corn (frozen): 10-12 mins
Tomatoes: 10-15 mins

Root Vegetables: Cooking Time (2 Portions)
Butternut squash: 20-30 mins
Carrots: 15-20 mins
Celeriac: 20-30 mins
New potatoes: 25-30 mins
Old potatoes: 25-30 mins
Whole onions: 20-30 mins
Swede: 30-40 mins
Sweet corn on the cob: 30-35 mins

Rice/Pasta/Noodles: Cooking Time (2 Portions)
Easy cook rice: 30-35 mins
White long grain rice: 30-35 mins
White basmati rice: 30-35 mins
Bulgar wheat: 25-30 mins
Couscous: 5-10 mins

Ready-to-Wok Noodles: 10 mins
Egg noodles: 10-15 mins
Pasta: 15-20 mins

Cooking Time: (2 Eggs)
Soft boiled: 8-10 mins
Hard boiled: 11-15 mins

Cooking Time: (2 Portions)
Pears: 20-25 mins
Bananas (in skin): 12-15 mins
Apples: 15-18 mins

It is important to balance your food between proteins, good carbs, dairy, fruit and vegetables.

Protein. Keeps you feeling full and is also essential for building body tissue. Good protein sources come from meat, fish and eggs.
Carbohydrates. Not all carbs are good and generally they are high in calories, which makes them difficult to include in a calorie limiting diet. However carbs are a good source of energy for your body as they are converted more easily into glucose (sugar) providing energy. Try to eat 'good carbs' which are high in fibre and nutrients e.g. whole fruits and veg, nuts, seeds, whole grain cereals, beans and legumes.
Dairy. Dairy products provide you with vitamins and minerals. Cheeses can be very high in calories but other products such as low fat Greek yoghurt, crème fraiche and skimmed milk are all good.

Fruit &  Vegetables. Eat your five a day. There is never a better time to fill your 5 a day quota. Not only are fruit and veg very healthy, they also fill up your plate and are ideal snacks when you are feeling hungry.

Calorie Conscious Side Suggestions
Here's  a list of some key side vegetables, salad, noodles etc which you may find useful when working out your calories.

All calories are per 100g/3½oz. Rice and noodle measurements are cooked weights:

Asparagus: 20 cals
Beansprouts: 20 cals
Brussel Sprouts: 42 cals
Butternut Squash: 45 cals
Cabbage: 30 cals
Carrots: 41 cals
Cauliflower: 25 cals
Celery: 14 cals
Courgette/zucchini: 16 cals
Cucumber: 15 cals
Egg noodles: 62 cals
Green beans: 31 cals
Leeks: 61 cals
Long grain rice: 140 cals
Mixed salad leaves: 17 cals
Mushrooms: 22 cals
Pak choi/Bok choy; 13 cals
Parsnips: 70 cals
Peas: 80 cals
Peppers: 40 cals
Potatoes: 88 cals
Rocket: 15 cals
Shirataki 'Miracle' noodles: 30 cals
Spinach: 23 cals
Sweet Potato: 86 cals
Sweet corn: 60 cals
Tomatoes: 18 cals


Tips For Eating Which May Help You On Your Fasting Days

Eat. Take it slow. There is no rush.
Chew. It sounds obvious but you should properly chew your food and swallow only when it's  broken down and you have enjoyed what you have tasted.
Wait. Before reaching for second helpings wait 5-10 minutes and let your body tell you whether you are still hungry. More often than not, the answer will be no and you will be satisfied with the meal you have had. A glass of water before each meal will help you with any cravings for more.
Avoid alcohol when you can. Alcohol is packed with calories and will counter effect any calorific reduction you are practicing with your daily meals.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It's  good for you, has zero calories, and will fill you up and help stop you feeling hungry.
Drink a glass of water before and also with your meal. Again this will help you feel fuller.
When you are eating each meal, put your fork down between bites – it will make you eat more slowly and You'll feel fuller on less food.
Brush your teeth immediately after your meal to discourage yourself from eating more.
If unwanted food cravings do strike, acknowledge them, then distract yourself.
Go out for a walk, phone a friend, play with the kids, or paint your nails.

Whenever hunger hits, try waiting 15 minutes and ride out the cravings. You'll find they pass and you can move on with your day.
Remember: feeling a bit hungry is not a bad thing. We are all so used to acting on the smallest hunger pangs that we forget what it's  like to feel genuinely hungry. Learn to 'own' your hunger and take control of how you deal with it.
Get moving. Increased activity will complement your weight loss efforts. Think about what you are doing each day: choose the stairs instead of the lift, walk to the shops instead of driving. Making small changes will not only help you burn calories but will make you feel healthier and more in control of your weight loss.