Healthy cooking doesn’t require that you learn any difficult methods or go out and buy expensive appliances or cooking utensils. There are simple changes you can make to your cooking methods to ensure that your family is getting the healthiest meals.
Probably the most important thing you can do is not even a method at all. It all starts with your ingredients. Start out with the freshest ingredients you can get and avoid processed, pre-prepared foods. The easiest way to do this is to do the majority of your shopping on the outer edges of the grocery store. Concentrate on the produce, meat and dairy sections and try to stay out of the inner aisles. If it comes in a box, bag, mix or can – it’s not that good for you. Do 80% of your shopping in the fresh sections and rely on the aisles for things like oils, vinegars, baking goods and a few condiments. This alone will put you miles ahead in your quest for healthier cooking options.
The Healthy Cooking Methods
- Stir-frying – Stir-frying is a common technique in Asian cooking. You use only a very small amount of oil in a very hot wok or pan. The pieces are usually chopped into small pieces and are cooked very quickly, preserving most of the nutrients in the food. Stir fried foods are very fresh and crisp and taste great. If your dish includes meat, stir-fry the meat first and add the vegetables after. A little soy sauce, ginger and garlic added towards the end of cooking will give the dish all the flavour you need.
- Steaming – Just about anything can be steamed in a metal or bamboo steamer. You simply put your food in the steamer over a pot of boiling water or other liquid and let it cook. You can add herbs and spices to the liquid or right in the steamer to season your dish. Steaming is one of the healthiest methods of cooking, as it uses no added fats and the nutrients are retained in the food.
- Roasting – Normally done in the oven at a fairly high temperature, roasting is a great method for cooking meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. Use a proper roasting pan or baking sheet and be sure to put meat on a rack inside the pan. This allows the fat to drip out of the meat as it cooks, rather than the meat sitting in the fat and absorbing it. Instead of basting with the drippings, use fat-free chicken or beef stock, fruit juice or other fat-free liquids. Roasted vegetables should be lightly coated in a healthy extra virgin olive oil to prevent them from drying out.
- Braising – This is a great method for cooking tougher cuts of meat. To braise meat, you first sear it in a pan over high heat, and then cook it slowly in liquid, either in a slow cooker, Dutch oven or covered roaster. Try using broth, apple juice, wine, water or any other flavourful liquid to cook the meat in. This is a great way to cook delicious dishes even if you don’t have a lot of time. You can put the meat in the slow cooker on low in the morning and it will be ready when you get home for work. Even if you’re doing it in the oven, it doesn’t need much attention, so you can go about doing other things while it cooks.
- Grilling – A summertime favourite, grilling is a healthy way to cook delicious meats, seafood and vegetables. Heat up the grill to a very high heat before adding the food, then turn the heat down and allow it to cook. Meats tend to dry out quickly on the grill if you’re not careful, so try marinating the meat first and baste it often while cooking. Vegetables can be done directly on the grill, on aluminum foil or in a grill pan. One of my favourites is corn on the cob on the grill. Just put the whole, un-shucked cob right on the grill and grill, turning frequently for about 10 minutes.
- Poaching – Most commonly used for cooking fish and eggs, poaching is simply simmering food in liquid. Chicken, pork and fruit can also be poached. Simply heat a small amount of liquid in a pan, and gently add your egg, fish or other food. Keep the water at a simmer, not allowing it to boil, and make sure the water covers the food slightly. This is a delicious, fat-free way to cook eggs, fish or chicken.
The key to healthy cooking is to use fresh ingredients and use techniques that preserve the nutrients as much as possible. The biggest rule of thumb is to avoid deep-frying at all costs and try to find low-fat sauces and additions. Try some of these healthy cooking methods and you and your family will be impressed with the exceptional flavour and healthiness of your meals.
This article was contributed by eFoodProcessorReviews – an excellent resource for food processor reviews, helping you to find the best food processor according to your needs.
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