I am most painfully aware of my kitchen shortcomings when dicing an onion. It's a slow and ardous process which typically devolves into me hashing at the poor onion like a serial killer. But not anymore, baby! Video of how to chop an onion - look, so easy!
All you ever wanted to know about knife skills and chopping stuff up can be found here. It's one of the most comprehensive posts I've seen! And in case you're more of the tactile/visual learner, here's a video of a guy cutting up some celery using a fancy technique.
Lunch in a Box suggests using a chopstick to create individual portions when freezing meat, but I'm sure it could work for other foods as well.
The article "Finding the Best Way to Cook All Those Vegetables" in the New York times by Tara Parker-Pope sheds some light on how to best prepare the veggies that I'll be eating.
It reviews research that looks at the nutritional effects of how items are prepared and what accompanies them, Of course there's no easy answer in terms of preparation as "water-soluble compounds like vitamins C and B and a group of nutrients called polyphenolics are often lost in processing" but processing breaks down cell walls and allows some nutrients to be released. Moreover, "fat-soluble compounds like vitamins A, D, E, and K and the antioxidant compounds called carotenoids are less likely to leach out in water."
A few interesting results:
- Fresh spinach loses 64% of its vitamin C after cooking
- Canned peas and carrots lose 85-95% of their vitamin C
- Processed tomatoes have higher lycopene content than fresh tomatoes
- Steaming/boiling broccoli caused a 22-34% loss of vitamin C but microwaved and pressure cooked broccoli retained 90% of its vitamin C.
- When salsa or salad is served with fat-rich avocados or full-fat salad dressing, diners absorbed as much as 4 times more lycopene, 7 times more lutein, and 18 times the beta carotene than those who had the veggies plain or with low-fat dressing.