There’s a food movement afoot: eating well to look, feel and perform your very best is the buzz! These science-backed natural foods, when prepared in the right way, will boost your mood, energy and metabolism.

Here we will talk about preparation of 7 vegetables of choice in order to maximize their nutritional content. Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a registered dietitian with a practice in Chicago, says, “Some produce is most nutritious uncooked, while other kinds need heat to bring out the best in them.”

From asparagus to tomatoes, here’s how to get the most from your farmers’ market picks:

1. Asparagus is Best: Cooked

When you steam asparagus, the process ignites its cancer-fighting potential. Asparagus contains the compounds that have made broccoli and the other cruciferous vegetables cancer-fighting superstars. These are isothiocyanates, indoles, and sulforaphane. Each of these has anti-cancer properties and the ability to rejuvenate cells. But there’s more to it: asparagus has one of the highest concentrations of glutathione, one of the master antioxidants made in the body. As we begin to age, our ability to make glutathione needs to be bolstered by dietary intake.

Asparagus is best: Cooked

This has to be one of the easiest ways to cook asparagus:

Just trim the ends of asparagus stems, lay out on a foil lined baking sheet, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parmesan, and then bake until done. I eat them like French fries. Are they addictive? Well, yes!
2. Beets are Best: Raw

Beets lose more than 25% of their folate when cooked. Eating them raw will preserve this brain compound. Beets are one of those veggies that inspire passion one way or the other—you either love them or loathe them. I have heard people say they think beets taste “like dirt.” Yeah, maybe if you don’t peel them before eating! I’m firmly in the “love them” category, and if you are, too, here are some tips for you:

Beets are best: Raw

When beets are at their most flavorful, usually in late summer, they need no embellishment. Just serve them plain, sliced and served on a plate, or in salad. Dress warm-sliced beets in just a little lemon juice and agave nectar.

As mentioned above, raw beets are wonderful grated and tossed into salads or combined with other grated roots, as in Beet And Red Cabbage Slaw.

3. Broccoli is Best: Raw

Heating broccoli deactivates their active component myrosinase, an enzyme in broccoli that helps cleanse the liver of carcinogens. Here is a Raw Broccoli Salad Recipe for your summer relish:

Ingredients:

3 cups of chopped broccoli
2 tbsp. of finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon juice
½ tsp of sea salt

Broccoli is best: Raw

Recipe directions:

Wash and finely chop the broccoli, several florets at a time. Keep chopping until the broccoli is ½ cm to 1 cm pieces.

Place the broccoli into a large, non-reactive bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and then mix well with a metal spoon. Cover and let the broccoli sit in the fridge for an hour.4. Red peppers are Best: Raw

You must go “raw-tarian” with these peppers because their vitamin C breaks down when they are roasted, fried or grilled above 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Red peppers are best: Raw

Here is a raw red pepper soup recipe for you:

Ingredients:

1 cup roughly chopped red bell peppers (approx. 1 medium pepper)
1⁄3 cup cashews
1⁄3 cup water
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup more diced red bell pepper (reserve – do not blend)

Recipe directions:

• Throw all ingredients (except last ½ cup of red peppers) in a high-speed blender and blend up ’til nice and smooth and well mixed’. You can let this raw red bell pepper soup recipe blend in the Vitamix or Blendtec blender for a little extra time so that the heat of the blades and the friction actually warm up this delicious, creamy raw red bell pepper soup recipe.

• Transfer raw red pepper soup into a bowl. Add the remaining ½cup of diced red peppers and mix gently with a spoon.

• Garnish with whatever you like! I simply sprinkled my soup with some dried basil. Eat immediately!

5. Spinach is Best: Cooked

Have it cooked and you will absorb more iron, calcium and magnesium from it.

Here is a quick and easy sautéed spinach recipe you can cook from scratch:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (10 ounce) bag spinach leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Spinach is best: Cooked

Recipe directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach to the skillet and cover. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the salt and cover again for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.

6. Tomatoes are Best: Cooked

Surprise: When you eat tomato fruit cooked, your body absorbs more of its cancer-fighting lycopene.

Slow-cooked tomatoes recipe:

Ingredients:

• 6 medium-sized vine tomatoes
• thyme or rosemary leaves
• vinegar
• olive oil

Tomatoes are best: Cooked

Recipe directions:

They can be made up to 2 days ahead. Halve the tomatoes width-ways and place, cut-side up, in a roasting pan. Season and scatter thyme or rosemary leaves over them. Sprinkle each with vinegar and finally with olive oil. Bake for 2-3 hours until soft and slightly shriveled. Remove and cool.