Cooking Foods In a Healthier Way
Cooking foods in a healthier way is just as important as what and when you eat. There are many ways you can use basic cooking methods and less fat when preparing your favorite dishes. These minor changes will go a long way to help you achieve your weight management and health goals.
Below are healthier cooking options that you can explore instead of frying foods. These methods will help to retain nutrients and flavors in foods far more effectively. You’ll also find that not only are they healthier, but faster as well. A little planning in advance always pays off in the end.
Steaming foods is your best option for cooking vegetables. It helps retain nutrients, flavor, and wholesomeness. Steaming is also very easy. Just place your cut up vegetables into a perforated basket or metal mesh strainer and suspend the basket above simmering water. Add some seasonings to the water and sprinkle a little on top. The flavors will blend as the vegetables cook. To retain the bright colors of the vegetables, rinse under cold water.
Stir-frying is another cook cooking method suited to vegetables and cut up meats. It requires only a small amount of oil, which is better than the traditional frying methods. When stir-frying, you’re cooking the vegetables for a short period of time, so they retain their shape, color, texture and most of all, flavor. To avoid oxidation of the oil when cooking at higher temperatures, heat your skillet first, then add organic canola or coconut oil to the pan. It also helps to add a little water to the pan before adding your vegetables. It’s best to cook meats first, then remove from the pan and set aside to keep warm. Then add a little more oil to the pan to cook the vegetables. Stir-fry harder vegetables first as they take longer to cook. Then add the softer vegetables that require less time.
Slow cooking foods
I honestly don’t know what I’d do without my slow cookers. If you want to cook a few small red potatoes, a 1.5 quart slow cooker is great for that. For making larger main meals or tossing a number of bones in to create bone broth, it’s also nice to have a larger 4-5 quart. Slow cookers are designed to cook food gently and for longer periods of time.
Cooking foods slowly allow flavors to distribute well in most recipes. It’s also an inexpensive option and very easy to use. The beauty of slow cooking is you can combine all of your ingredients into one pot, turn it on, and walk away for the day. I like to brown my meats on the stove prior to adding them to the slow-cooker, but most recipes will guide you through this process if needed. Using a slow cooker is an inexpensive way to tenderize less expensive or tough meats as they slowly cook and tenderize in the jices. Take advantage of variable temperature settings on some models. That feature keeps you from overcooking yoru meals.
Pressure cooking foods
Don’t have an InstaPot yet? Time to consider one. A pressure cooker uses a combination of heat and steam to cook foods. Since the steam in a pressure cooker can’t escape, foods cook quickly and more efficiently than other methods. Shortened cooking time is a benefit of cooking with increased pressure. Believe it or not, pressure cooking does not use high heat to do its job. When I researched this, I found that the highest recorded boiling point of water is only 250 degrees! Pressure cookers are more expensive than slow cookers, but if you want to tenderize, slow-cook, steam or even saute foods, this is one appliance that will save you time in the long run.
I use my IP about twice a week, if not more. The only complaint I have about it is the inside bottom of the pan is rounded, so there’s a small hump in the middle. Oil tends to run to the outer edge of the pan. Braising meats before pressure or slow cooking them, is best done on the stovetop in a double boiler pan. The high sides keeps the splattering down.
Broiling or grilling foods is yet another option to consider, however, this is a less desirable one. When broiling or grilling meats in particular, you must be careful to avoid charing foods because this has been linked to an increased risk of some cancers. When using this method, it’s best to trim away all excess fats from meats and consider marinating your meats to help tenderize them.
Vegetables should be cooked separately and cut so hard and softer vegetables cook evenly. Toss your veggies in a mixture of olive oil and herbs and stir them midway through to avoid burning. Sprinkle with some kosher or sea salt. Broiling takes a watchful eye. Adjust the oven shelves down for slower broiling. Some ovens offer a 400 degree and 500 degree option. You can always brown your food by holding near the broiler element for a few seconds right before serving.
Roasting and baking foods
This method is least desirable because higher temperatures are used that destroys vital nutrients in foods. Even though I love roasting certain vegetables, I’ve learned to turn the heat down a bit in order to retain as many nutrients as possible. I also prefer cooking them only halfway to retain their crispness and color. When roasting or baking meats, lightly coat with a good olive oil and place the meat on a rack so the fat can drip away. Marinating meats also helps tenderize the cuts and shortens the cooking time a bit.
When roasting vegetables, follow the same procedures as for broiling vegetables. The trick is to keep pieces uniform in size so they don’t dry out and burn and stir them a few times while they cook. Once removed from the oven, they will cool quickly. They will soften when covered while still hot.
As you can see, there are a number of ways in which to cook foods. Experiment and find alternatives that work best for your budget and lifestyle. When you think “vegetables first” then build your meal around them, you’ll find that your cooking is faster and healthier. Using meats as a “condiment” saves money and you’ll find you use a lot less.
What are some tricks you use to save you money and time? Share them below so we can all learn from one another.
Cathy lives in Roanoke, Virginia and specializes in supporting families who desire to change their relationship with health–the way they eat, feel and live. She is a certified Health Coach & Educator with a strong passion for supporting each client in their journey to feeling stronger, healthier, and more energetic. Cathy presents workshops online and locally and regularly talks about real food, fitness, natural living, and all things ADHD.
Cathy is the creator of the Holistic Wellness Academy, an online training platform that will soon provide other wellness advocates a place to share their expertise with their clients so they too can learn how to eat smart, move more, feel better and live longer.