6 Easy Cooking Methods For Healthier Meals
Healthy eating isn’t just about what you eat.
How you cook can also make a big difference too. When cooking, it’s important to preserve as much of the nutrients in your food as possible while keeping intake of harmful fats and excess calories to a minimum. So how do you find that middle ground where you can have both taste and healthy eating? Here are 6 cooking methods which will allow you to have the best of both worlds.
Tired of watery vegetables? This is a great way to cook veg without boiling all the nutrients and vitamins away. Steaming helps to keep the firmness and crunch in your veggies as well as the taste. You can also use this method for delicate foods like fish and chicken breast. Tip: While there are electric steamers on the market, they can be pricey. For low cost steaming, simply place your food in a metal colander or even a sieve and place over a pot of boiling water. Put a saucepan lid over the food to hold in the steam and it will work like a charm. (I do this myself!)
Oven baking is a great way to cook as long as you don’t overcook your food and dry it out. If you are cooking fish or chicken, try wrapping your portions in tin foil lightly sprayed with a low-calorie oil spray. Add some herbs or lemon slices to the parcel and you will have a tender and tasty cut to serve with your steamed vegetables. Tip: If you like a little crispiness, open out the parcel 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking time and allow the food to brown and crisp on top.
In a hurry? Then here’s the best fast-food option available. In the time it takes to phone the Chinese takeaway and wait for them to deliver, you can have your choice of meat/fish/veg chopped, cooked and ready to serve. Stir-frying is so versatile as you can use any choice of vegetables, meat or fish you like. For even cooking, make sure to chop your food items to a consistent size. Use an oil spray to keep fat to a minimum and a little low-sodium soy sauce for taste. Tip: Keep your herb and spices handy while cooking. They are a great way to add flavour without racking up the calorie count.
Many people, when faced with a frying pan, immediately think of a fry-up swimming in fat. However, there’s more than one way to use a pan and poaching is a healthy alternative to traditional frying. Use fat-free liquids like water, stock and wine to cook your food in. It’s kinder to your heart and you’ll feel like a top-class chef. Tip: Try white fish poached in milk with herbs, peppercorns or onions. It’s delicious!
The microwave is a very under-used tool in many households. Mostly used for heating up or defrosting items. It’s a shame really because it so quick and convenient for cooking meals, cutting the time down to bare minutes. Perfect when you’re in a hurry. It’s a matter of moments to whip up scrambled eggs or porridge for breakfast and can be a real saviour in the mornings. There’s nothing nicer than a baked potato with a little cheese or baked beans straight out of the microwave. (My favourite snack!) Tip: Use a microwave with a turntable to eliminate any ‘hot spots’ and ensure even cooking. Always check the wattage on your microwave so your food isn’t under/overcooked.
You can use a grill to add taste and crispiness to your food without adding fats or oils. Grilling drains away excess fat from meat and caramelises vegetables, making them tastier. Try marinating meats before grilling for added flavour. Do yourself a favour and ditch the frying pan in favour of a ‘mixed grill’ for breakfast. You can still enjoy crispy bacon and sausages but without the added fats. Tip: Always use a raised grid in your grill so the excess fat drips off into the pan below.
By using these healthier cooking methods, you can reduce your fat intake, maximize nutrition and enjoy food with more flavour. The only thing you stand to lose is a few inches from your waistline. Sounds good to me!