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Healthy cooking techniques

Introduction

Healthy cooking doesn't mean that you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in expensive cookware. You can use basic cooking techniques to prepare food in healthy ways. By using healthy-cooking techniques, you can cut saturated fats, such as butter and lard.

Adults should limit calories from saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of total daily calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that means no more than 200 calories from saturated fat — about 22 grams of saturated fat — a day.

We will explore the best healthy-cooking methods which capture the flavor and retain the nutrients in foods without adding excessive amounts of fat or salt. Use them often to prepare your favorite dishes!

Baking

Besides breads and desserts, you can bake seafood, poultry, lean meat, vegetables and fruits. For baking, place food in a pan or dish, covered or uncovered. Baking generally doesn't require that you add fat to the food. Here are some tips for healthier bakes:

  • Whole-wheat flour—made from whole grains—is a healthier option than refined-grain white flour.
  • Try cutting the amount of sugar used by a fourth or a third, and consider adding vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg instead, to enhance the flavor.
  • Trade some of the butter in your recipes for canola oil to cut down saturated fat—the light flavor won’t impact the taste of your baked goods, and their texture should be pretty much the same.

Grilling

Grilling expose food to direct heat. This cooking method allows fat to drip away from the food.

To grill outdoors, place the food on a grill rack above a bed of charcoal embers or gas-heated rocks. If you have an indoor grill, follow the manufacturer's directions. For smaller items, such as chopped vegetables, use foil or a long-handled grill basket to prevent pieces from slipping through the rack.

Here are some tips for healthy grilling and barbecuing:

  • A healthy portion of any type of meat is about 3 ounces, and definitely no more than 6 ounces. If that sounds small, just remember all the delicious grilled veggies and side dishes that will be keeping it company on your plate!
  • Marinating or rubbing spices on poultry, fish and meat can add amazing flavor with the bonus of being able to use less salt All you need is about ½ cup of marinade or 1 tablespoon of spice rub for each pound of food.
  • Fish, skinless chicken breast and lean ground poultry are all healthier choices. The good fats in fish like salmon and trout actually have health benefits. And when you grill with skill, your guests won’t even miss the red meat, which usually has more saturated fat.

Roasting

Like baking, but typically at higher temperatures, roasting uses an oven's dry heat to cook the food. You can roast foods on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan.

For poultry, seafood and meat, place a rack inside the roasting pan so that the fat in the food can drip away during cooking. To maintain moisture, cook foods until they reach a safe internal temperature but don't overcook them.

Why Roasting Rocks? Much like using a slow cooker, roasting is a set-it-and-forget-it technique. Once you've prepped the food for cooking, meat and poultry may just need the occasional baste and cut-up veggies will need to be tossed once or twice.

Steaming

One of the simplest and healthiest cooking techniques is steaming food in a perforated basket suspended above simmering liquid. If you use a flavorful liquid or add seasonings to the water, you'll flavor the food as it cooks.

Here are some advantages of steaming:

Lower cholesterol. When cooking meats such as lamb or pork, steaming removes the fat from the meat so it can be easily discarded whereas conventional cooking methods such as grilling, baking or frying, cook the fat into the meat. Getting rid of the fat makes the meat lower in calories and lower in cholesterol.

Preserve the fiber and color of vegetables. By steam-cooking, the vegetables are kept as close to their natural raw state as possible, whilst still heating through thoroughly. This not only prevents the vegetables from turning into a mash or purée, but it also allows them to retain their original colour, taste, juices and freshness.

Retain vitamins and minerals. Many of the vitamins and minerals found in vegetables are lost with some conventional methods of cooking. Steaming ensures that vitamins such as vitamin B, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, biotin, B12, pantothenic acid and vitamin C, as well as minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc are retained.

New ways to flavor foods

Seasoning is an essential part of any tasty meal, so we should make sure we're doing it right as well. Creating meals with herbs, spices and other natural flavorings is one of the best ways to add color, taste and aroma to foods without adding salt or fat. Here are some healthy flavor boosts you can use in youre next meal:

  • Fresh herbs. Choose herbs that look bright and aren't wilted, and add them toward the end of cooking.
  • Dried herbs. Add pinches of dried herbs in the earlier stages of cooking. But avoid prepackaged seasoning mixes because they often contain a lot of salt.
  • Dried mustard. Used sparingly, dried mustard adds a zesty flavor while cooking.
  • Vinegar or citrus juices. Add them at the last moment. Vinegar is great on vegetables, and citrus works well on fruit such as melons.
  • Marinades. Try a low-fat marinade for foods that you broil, grill or roast. To make your own marinade, use 1 part oil to 2 parts vinegar or citrus juice, and add herbs and spices as desired.
  • Fresh hot peppers. Remove the membranes and seeds first, and then finely chop the peppers. A small amount goes a long way.
  • Dried vegetables and fruits. Some vegetables and fruits — such as mushrooms, tomatoes, chilies, cherries, cranberries and currants — have a more intense flavor when dried than when fresh. Add them when you want a burst of flavor.

 

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