Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients, antioxidants and fiber but watch out for the way you cook them because the nutrients could be easily destroyed. Steaming veggies is the best solution to preserve nutrients. Stir-frying in extra virgin olive oil, rather than sunflower oil or some other oils has been proven to retain all their nutritional value, especially Vitamin C. A mix of vegetables to get a multicoloured dish is ideal for health.

Want to really enjoy your veggies? Get a Wok or a Stir-Fry Pan! Stir-frying is one of the easiest ways to make a delicious, healthy meal in minutes.

A few basics is all you need to get cooking!

Purchase your wok

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on state-of-the-art cookware. A typical, stainless-steel wok, purchased for less than $50, will serve its purpose nicely. The heavier the wok, the better it is going to retain heat. This is important as you must cook at a higher temperature in order to avoid stewing or steaming your ingredients.

Season your wok

Before using your wok for the very first time, you must season it. Seasoning the wok is a method to “break it in” to make sure even heat-distribution during stir-frying, and helps secure the flavors of the meals as it’s cooking. Once you remove your wok from its packaging, you might see a greasy film on the surface. Wipe this film away, and wash your wok in warm, soapy water. To season your wok, place it on the stove over medium-high heat for a couple minutes. Add a drop or two of oil, and swirl it around to coat the surface evenly. Remove from the stovetop to let cool for a lttle bit, and then start using a paper towel to get rid of the oily residue. You might want to season your wok once again before starting cooking with it.

Gather your utensils

Professional chefs use a mesh ladel to toss the ingredients around in the wok, but unless you have one of these, a wooden spoon can do just fine. Place some large, clean bowls and plates on the counter close to your wok so that you can set your cooked items aside as you prepare them in batches. Other things you will need: a chef’s knife, cutting board, and several bowls of different sizes to store liquid mixtures and chopped herbs and vegetables.

Cut and dry food prep

One of the most time-consuming part of stir-frying is preparing the ingredients. You’ll want everything portioned out and cleaned, cut, sliced and diced in advance. Chop everything into bite-sized chunks to make sure quick and thorough cooking. Make sure there is no extra water or some other liquid in your wok while stir-frying your vegetables. As mentioned previously, liquid in the wok may cause your food to stew rather than lightly fry.

Stir-fry in batches

Properly stir-fried meals retains its crisp, firm exterior and tender, juicy inside by cooking little portions at the same time. Heat the wok, drizzle in enough oil to coat the surface, and add a few cloves of crushed garlic and/or ginger, and stir-fry the veggies, adding the thicker ingredients like potatoes and carrots first, and tossing in quicker-cooking ingredients like scallions and mushrooms at the end together with your liquid sauces and seasonings. Give everything an instant toss, simmer for some minutes and remove from heat.

Learn the flavors

Thai cooking is very popular right now; comparable to Chinese, but with its personal exotic spices and flavorings, some of which take their cue from Indian cuisine. Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean fare all boast their signature recipes as well. With practice, you’ll find out which spices and sauces go with what and how exactly to identify their flavors. You can purchase most of the thing you need at an Asian specialty store.

Always have some Asian cooking staples readily available: soy sauce, hoisin sauce. Fresh ginger, garlic, chillies, galangal, Asian shallots, scallions, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro and lemongrass. Green or red curry paste. Noodles and rice. And of course… plenty of veggies. Onions, carrots, broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms.

There is really no limit to what can be done with a wok, a variety of veggies, spices and sauces. If you are a creative chef, feel free to experiment. If you are a “by the book” cook, go out and buy a stir-fry cookbook that may explain each technique in detail and also familiarize you with the exotic ingredients. Most importantly: understand that stir-frying is really a healthy solution to prepare and enjoy the foods you like in the comfort and ease of home.