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Know your vegetables and how to cook them

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By FAITH NDUNGI
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Vegetables are an important part of the diet and must be included in every meal. But how well do you know your vegetables and how to cook them? Based on the edible part, vegetables are classified as:

Flower vegetables: Artichoke, broccoli and cauliflower.
Tuber vegetables: Cassava, potato, sweet potato and yams.
Stem vegetables: Asparagus, celery, fennel and bamboo shoot.
Fruit vegetables: Bell peppers, chayote, cucumber, okra, olive, squash, eggplant and tomato.
Leaf vegetables: Cabbage, spinach, sukuma wiki and lettuce.
Root vegetables: Beet root, carrot, radish and turnip.
Bulb vegetables: Onion, garlic and shallot.

Vegetables should be cooked as briefly as possible since they become bland if overcooked and lose vitamins and minerals.

Cut them into smaller pieces so that they cook evenly. Reduce the cooking time if vegetables are to be reheated or served cold because the cooking process will continue when they are hot.

The cooking process can be stopped by running vegetables under cold water but this will lead to the loss of vitamins and minerals. Keep peeled or sliced vegetables covered while cooking to prevent them from drying.

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Spices and herbs, on the other hand, lose their flavour or can become overly intense when added earlier in the cooking.
The cooking methods

Quick-braising: This involves cooking vegetables in their own juices after sautéing in a small amount of cooking oil.

The vegetables are covered and cooked over low heat to blend flavours well and make them tender. This method is good for squash, tomatoes, onions and shallots.

Braising: This involves cooking vegetables slowly, covered over low heat after sautéing in cooking oil. The vegetables are cooked whole or in pieces.

Braising can be done with vegetables on their own or with pieces of meat to create tasty combinations. This method is good for hard vegetables like artichokes, cabbage, celery and fennel.

Boiling: They should be placed in a covered cooking pot large enough for them to cook evenly. Add the vegetables when the water has come to a full boil and keep the heat high so that the water returns to boil quickly.

Then lower the heat so that the vegetables can simmer. However, green vegetables should be cooked uncovered to prevent the acids they contain from becoming concentrated and destroying their chrophyll, making them lose their colour.

Adding an acidic ingredient like vinegar or citrus juice preserves the colour and firmness of red vegetables like beets, red cabbage, tomatoes, red bell pepper, radish, red chilli pepper, radicchio and red leaf lettuce as well as white vegetables like potatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, parsnips, kohlrabi, and mushrooms.

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Vegetables that discolour easily like artichokes, once peeled and cut, should be cooked in four cups of boiling salted water containing three tablespoons of lemon juice. Salt draws water from vegetables and makes them tender.

However, when added at the beginning of cooking, it makes the vegetable juices run out, leading to loss of nutrients.

The salt also becomes concentrated as cooking continues. It should not be used with vegetables that have high water content like tomatoes and cucumbers and it is also not recommended for other vegetables like cabbage and bell peppers since it leads to loss of firmness and flavour.

Boiling reduces nutritional value of vegetables significantly. Therefore, it is recommended that only a small amount of water is used in boiling and the remaining reserved for soups and sauces instead of discarding it.

Steaming: This involves the use of heat released by a small amount of boiling water. The vegetables are only added to the steamer when the water starts to boil.

When the lid vibrates or releases steam, the heat should be lowered to keep the water at simmering point. Steaming vegetables takes slightly longer than boiling but has less losses of flavour and nutrients.

It is an easy and relatively quick way to prepare vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, asparagus, beets, cauliflower, celery and radishes.

Pressure cooking: This involves cooking in an airtight container – pressure cooker. The temperatures within the cooker rise above boiling point so that the vegetables cook very fast. Examples of vegetables that can be pressure-cooked include potatoes, squashes and artichokes.

Dry-heat cooking: This involves the use of an oven. The vegetables are cooked whole in their skin or cut into pieces.

Cooking in dry heat makes vegetables tender, juicy and tasty. This method is good for eggplant, squash and potatoes.

Microwaving: Cooking vegetables in the microwave preserves the flavour and colour better. Microwave safe containers should be used for cooking.

Place vegetables that require longer cooking time at edge of the cooking dish and those that cook more quickly at the centre.

Stir-frying: The vegetables are fried quickly in oil over high heat. Cooking is done very briefly to avoid nutrient loss and preserve flavour, texture as well as colour.

Ginger, garlic and or other spices can be added if desired. Stir-frying is good for firm vegetables like cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.

Deep-frying: This involves cooking at high temperatures by immersing food in cooking oil. Vegetables should be well-dried or coated by dipping in flour or beaten eggs and bread crumbs.

When cooked, the vegetables are drained on paper towel. Potatoes, artichokes, cauliflower and eggplant.

The writer is based at Egerton University.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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