Healthy Cooking

Healthy Cooking is about choosing a cooking method that delivers optimum health benefits. Most people get comfortable with a cooking method and stick to it but there are options and this article will explore the various cooking methods available to you.

Time Factor.

This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for Healthy Cooking. If you are time poor you will most likely want quick easy meals. Ready made food and takeaways are hard to resist particularly after a long trying day.  You could though grill meat or stir-fry vegetables for a quick and healthy result.
Here is an overview of some cooking methods and how they can benefit you.

Healthy Cooking ” Steaming.”

A traditional steamer comes in two parts, water goes into the bottom half, food is placed in the steamer section which sits on top and is then covered with a lid.

healthy cooking by steaming

The water is brought to the boil and then simmer allowing the steam to permeate through the food.  Because the food is not in the boiling water the goodness remains in the food.
The amount of water you will need depends on what you are cooking. Vegetables cook quickly but something like a steamed pudding would take much longer.
This is a very simple healthy way to cook. There are now some great electric steamers on the market so investigate the different steaming possibilities.
Steaming is ideal for a variety of foods including chicken, fish, vegetables and sponge puddings. Vegetables retain their colour and are less likely to be overcooked.
Steaming is very popular in Asian countries.

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Healthy Cooking  “Pressure Cooking.”

Pressure Cookers are fantastic.  I wouldn’t be without mine; it will save you time and money, giving you the healthiest food in the shortest time.

Food is sealed in the cooker and cooked under pressure; this means it can be cooked very quickly, saving time and fuel. Meat becomes tender using this method so you will save money buying cheaper cuts of meat.healthy cooking with pressure cooker

When the food is cooked, pressure is released to stop the cooking process. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions since models vary even though the method is basically the same.
All the goodness of the food is retained making the pressure cooker a healthy option.
It’s perfect for a whole range of food including meats, fish, poultry, deserts, soups and stews. The makers generally provide a guide to cooking times and recipes.
Pressure cookers have become more popular than ever and there is a huge selection of models on the market.

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Healthy Cooking  “Grilling.”

Sometimes known as broiling a grill or salamander directs heat onto the food from above. Using bottom heat is not strictly grilling. Bottom heat is either saute, frying or with an open flame roasting (now known as BBQ).

healthy cooking with a top grill

Grilling is a quick way of cooking and is also ideal when you need to give a dish a golden finish such as a pasta bake or food with a cheese topping. It’s great for snacks like sardines or cheese and tomato on toast.
It is possible to cook a big variety of food with this method, steaks, fish; chicken, vegetable dishes can all be cooked under the grill. To keep meals healthy avoid using too much oil, use a pastry brush to coat the food and you can also add a little water to stop the dish drying out.

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Healthy Cooking  “Slow Cookers.”

Slow cookers are brilliant for busy people, prepare it before you go to work and it is ready when you get home. I like the fact that a lovely aroma greets you when you open the door.
Prepare your meal put it in the cooker, turn it on and leave it to cook slowly for a few hours.

healthy cooking with a crock pot

Most cookers have timers so that you can program it to come on at a designated time. This is the perfect way to cook casseroles, hotpots, ragouts, stews, curries and a whole lot more different foods. All the goodness and flavor is retained in the meal.
There are plenty of styles and sizes to choose from and hundreds of delicious recipes to cook.

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Healthy Cooking  ” Baking.”

Baked food is cooked in an oven surrounded by heat and cooked at a constant temperature. Baking is used to cook bread, pastries, cakes, puddings, meats, fish and many other types of food.

healthy cooking,baking

Baking is not a fast method of cooking but many people find it very satisfying or even therapeutic. Baking is a lovely way of cooking especially when time isn’t an issue.
If you do a lot of cooking with this method you will need a selection of trays and dishes.

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Healthy Cooking  “Roasting.”

.Sunday roast or Thanksgiving turkey, the word roast always conjures up mouth watering images. A roast meal has a distinctive flavor that is difficult to replicate with any other method. A  Roast is cooked in an open dish in a fairly hot oven.

healthy cooking,roasting

Roasting is particularly good for meats and poultry but there is a big variety of other foods that can be roasted. The downside to roasting is that food needs to be basted with oil or fat to get a nice golden finish. Use good quality oil and brush it on sparingly, avoid using salt to make roasting more healthy.

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Healthy Cooking  “Microwave.”

Microwaves are very useful for many reasons. They are great for reheating food, cook quickly, usually have a defrost function and are ideal for ready made meals.
With practice it is possible to cook a wide variety of meals but advisable to use a microwave cookery book.

healthy cooking using microwaves

When using a microwave oven be sure to check the power level before commencing to cook (most have more than one setting) and do not stand in front of it when it is on.
I always find it useful for vegetables because you need very little water and you can control the cooking time to get them just right. Scrambled eggs always seem to be more successful when I do them in the microwave, it is just a question of finding out what works for you.
Convection microwave ovens double as traditional oven as well as a microwave, perfect if you want to save on space.

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Healthy Cooking  “Boiling.”

Food is cooked by placing food in a pot with boiling water and bringing water to the boil.

healthy cooking, boiling vegies

For some foods like vegetables, a lid is required, pasta and rice can be cooked in an open pan. Once water is boiling the heat is reduced to the required level, simmering is generally enough for most things. It is worth mentioning that since rice cookers have become popular they are often the preferred option for pasta and rice.

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Healthy Cooking  “Sauté.”

To sauté food cut it into small pieces or slice thinly. Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy based shallow pan and place over a fairly high heat. When oil is hot toss in prepared food and brown evenly.

healthy cooking, sauteing

Food is cooked quickly and retains its flavor and texture. When food is cooked remove from pan. Add a little water, wine or stock to the pan and replace over heat, use a spatula or wooden spoon to clean the pan. This is called deglazing and allows you to make use of the goodness left in the pan. You can use it as it is or thicken for a sauce. Use a heavy based pan, it will hold the heat better and reduce the risk of burning.

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Healthy Cooking  “Stir Fry.”

This Asian style of cooking is healthy and very popular. Use a wok and place over a large ring so that heat reaches up the sides. Prepare food by cutting into small pieces or slice thinly. Dribble a small amount of oil down the sides of the wok, when it is heated toss in prepared food, turn food constantly with chop sticks or a spatula.

healthy cooking with a wok

If you  are cooking meat and vegetables remove meat when it is cooked and place to one side, place lid on wok and steam for a couple of minutes then put meat back in and toss before serving.  To get the best out of your wok look for recipes suitable for this method of cooking.
Use a good quality wok so that it retains the heat and cooks food evenly. If you haven’t used a wok before do some research before you decide to buy?

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As you can see there are plenty of cooking methods available to you, Healthy Cooking depends on what you use and how you flavor it. Avoid using too much cooking oil or fats and cut down on salt and rich sauces. Use a method that will retain the goodness so that you get real health benefits.

Good luck.

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