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8 Ways to Season and Cook Vegetables Without Butter or Oils

I'm a San Francisco-based freelance writer and blogger with nearly ten years of writing experience behind me.

These baby mushrooms are tasty in some veggie broth

These baby mushrooms are tasty in some veggie broth

Fresh vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, many people ruin their nutritional value by slathering them with butter or dousing them in oils to fry them up. Here are eight different ways to season and cook your vegetables without using butter and oil, so that they stay healthy and also taste interesting.

1. Steam Vegetables

Steaming your vegetables is one of the best ways to get the full flavor of the vegetable itself so that you don’t actually need any seasoning at all. Try to keep the vegetables only lightly steamed so that they’re still a little bit crunchy; that’s how you will get the best flavor.

2. Add Just a Dash of Salt

If you can’t stand the taste of unseasoned steamed vegetables, there are lots of other options. The simplest one is just to add a little bit of salt. This will bring out more of the flavor of the vegetable. It will also help you get used to eating fresh vegetables if you’re more used to packaged and processed foods. Try to cut back on the salt gradually until you don’t need it anymore and can just enjoy your vegetables without it, though, since salt isn’t ideal in a diet. Bonus: Consider trying flavored salts, such as rosemary salt, to get a different flavor to your vegetables.

3. Add Just a Dash of Brown Sugar

If you really don’t like your vegetables but are trying to eat more of them then start the process by adding a little bit of brown sugar on top of them. This is especially popular on carrots but is good on many other vegetables as well. You can add brown sugar to steamed or boiled vegetables to get a great sweet flavor.

4. Boil in Broth

One thing that I love to do with my vegetables is to boil them up in a little bit of broth. I use vegetable bouillon cubes personally to create a flavorful broth that I enjoy but you can use chicken or beef broth or any other soup stock that you like. I just put a little bit in the bottom of a pan, add the vegetables and then bring to a boil with the pan’s lid on to keep in the flavorful steam. It adds richness to the vegetables, whether you eat the broth itself or throw that part out.

5. Add a Twist of Citrus

Add a little bit of fresh citrus juice on top of freshly steamed vegetables to give them a uniquely tasty flavor. Lemon is most popular and can be used on just about everything (lemon atop broccoli is a favorite of mine personally). But experiment with fresh lime, orange and grapefruit juice, too.

6. Marinade and Throw Veggies on the Grill

Grilled vegetables are super tasty and often have a nice crunch to them. To avoid using oil or butter on the grill, you’ll want to marinade your veggies first. There are many options for marinades; I enjoy ones that are based around soy sauce.

7. Make a Sauce

Marinades are great, but they aren’t the only way to soak your veggies in flavor. Another option is to boil the veggies inside of a sauce. Try broccoli cooked in alfredo sauce, potatoes in curry sauce, or mushrooms in red sauce.

8. Use Hot Sauce

Depending on your taste buds you might like some salsa or hot sauce on top of your favorite steamed veggies. Mushrooms and baby corn with some spicy hot sauce on top is a super favorite of mine!


TycoonSam from Washington, MI on October 19, 2012:

Very nice hub. To the point and easy to follow.

Voted up and useful

Michelle Dee from Charlotte, NC on June 24, 2012:

That reminds me - I need to buy a Steamer. Also a little bit of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray, or the equivalent, may add some flavor to steamed vegetables. Using the boullion cubes is a great way to save money if you do a lot of cooking with broths. The canned broths are quite expensive in my area, so a box/pack of boullion cubes work just as well and are cheaper and last longer. Thank you for sharing, voted up.

supermom_in_ny from NY on May 22, 2012:

I can totally appreciate this hub. Many people think that I'm weird because I eat my salad without dressing. The looks I get at restaurants. You would think I belong in a straight jacket! When a veggie has to be cooked, I steam or boil with spanish seasonings for flavor. I like to taste my food, so I often skip the mayo, dressing, ketchup, etc. Voted useful!

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 17, 2012:

All good suggestions, Kathryn. Just picked vegetables taste sweetest, so have a garden or a community garden plot, participate in community supported farming, or shop at farmers markets. Boxed soups are handy; you can use just what you need and then put the rest in the fridge. You can cook vegies in a little chicken or vegetable broth or try a variety of flavors -- sweet potato, carrot ginger, etc.

Ruchira from United States on March 02, 2012:

Very creative indeed.


Earth Angel on March 02, 2012:

Bragg's Liquid Aminos and/or Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar is a wonderful and healthy alternative to many seasonings! Great suggestions; thank you! Blessings always, Earth Angel!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 02, 2012:

Great ideas! My go to is always olive oil, which is healthier than butter, but it's nice to have some other options. I love the broth idea.

Rika Susan from South Africa on March 02, 2012:

Useful post, Kathryn! I love using broth, rather than oil. Seasoning and fluid in one. And the brown sugar also tastes great. I must say, I don't like steamed veggies that much! My all time favorite (no cooking required) remains fresh vegetable juice made in my own kitchen. The most wonderful nutrient power-punch and so quick and easy.

shesacraftymom on March 02, 2012:

Love it! I think these are all great ideas, especially brown sugar...love anything sweet!

Twila Nelson from Carmichael, California on March 02, 2012:

Nicely written Hub that can tastefully keep all of us a bit healthier. Thank you.

services4all from U.S. on March 01, 2012:

Nice post, it really helps all of us to cook better.

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