Healthy Cooking Methods
One of the reasons most people shun health foods and healthy cooking is a fear that the foods will lack taste or have a decidedly unpleasant taste. Thankfully, this is no longer the case (if indeed it ever was). There is now equipment available that will not only retain the nutrient value of the foods, but will also keep that great taste for which we have been searching.
Stir-Frying: Using a wok or similar container spray with olive oil, butter, macadamia nut oil, or unrefined palm and coconut oil. (These fats are stable at temperatures above the boiling point.) Choose foods that are similar in size and quickly cook them in the wok while rapidly stirring them. Avoid using safflower, sunflower, and flax seed oils, which are all polyunsaturated fats. These break down quickly when heated with air and light and can produce harmful products like trans fatty acids.
Baking: Best used for seafood, lean meat, poultry, vegetables, and fruit slices. The food may be cooked covered or uncovered. The best thing about baking is that rarely do you need to add fat to the food. Sometimes basting is required if the food has a tendency to dry out.
Steaming: The best way to cook vegetables. This technique is simple to master. Use a perforated basket (holding the vegetables) above simmering liquid. You can add flavor by using flavored water or you can add seasonings to the water. Start the water boiling, then add the steamer with the vegetables. The lid should be closed to limit exposure to air. The vegetables should not be over steamed so remove them when they are a bright color and crisp tender.
Here is a real time saver: layer the vegetables in the steamer having the densest (longest cooking time) on the bottom, cook for a few minutes then add other vegetables topping off with the least dense.
Grilling and broiling: Both techniques allow fat to drip away from foods during preparation. Simply expose thin pieces of food to direct heat by placing them on a rack or in a grill basket.
Roasting: This is similar to baking, but at higher temperatures. It is best to place meat on a rack so that the fat can drip away during the cooking process.
Parchment: Prepare and place the chopped food on a moistened piece of parchment paper (vegetables, fish, and fowl can be prepared using this method) Fold the corners of the paper around the food and fasten together with a cotton string. Insert the prepared pouch into a pot filled with about 2 inches of gently boiling water, cover and simmer at low to medium temperatures. The great advantage to this method of cooking is that it allows the food to stem and retain its own juices. The result is that the food retains moisture and nutrients as it intensifies flavor, therefore, food cooked this way usually requires very little seasoning.
Sautéing: This method is similar to stir frying and rapidly cooks relatively small pieces of food. If you use a Teflon (non-stick) pan please use utensils that are Teflon coated as well since metal spatulas will scratch the pan and the coating will end up in your food.
Microwave: Not recommended, since studies have shown that it greatly reduces the nutritional value of food and alters its molecular structure.
Be Creative! Your nutritious meals need not be boring or bland. Experiment with herbs and spices. Here are a couple helpful tips on adding herbs:
- Fresh herbs should be added near the end of cooking while dried herbs are added at the earlier stages.
- When substituting dried for fresh herbs use about 1/3 the amount.