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Ten Healthy Cooking Tips

Fitness for mind and body.

Good nutrition is not just a matter of selecting the "right" foods to eat. It is also important to prepare these foods in ways that will maintain their nutritional benefits. Careful decisions about cooking techniques can have a profound effect on the nutrient content of the foods we prepare.

Chef walking with bowl of food

These cooking strategies and ingredient substitution ideas can help retain and, in some cases, improve, the nutritional value of your most popular dishes. They can also help you meet the American Institute for Cancer Research's recommendations for lower cancer risk and better overall health:

  • Cut the salt in half in your favorite recipes. Most of the time this will not produce a noticeable taste change. Consider replacing part of the salt with an herb or spice, flavored vinegar, citrus juice or peel. Garlic or onion power (not garlic or onion salt) work well in meats, soups, and sauces. Make your own mix of garlic, onion, paprika, and parsley flakes. See also: Salt Sense
  • Use veggie spray or non-stick pans for grilling or stir-frying.
  • Choose methods of cooking that will retain flavor, color, and nutrients. Steam instead of boiling vegetables. Avoid cooking at high temperatures (except for quick stir-frying) and long cooking times. Both extended heat and liquid can destroy or leach out valuable nutrients.
  • Add vegetables whenever possible to ensure your five-a-day intake. Experiment with more veggie variety in salads, try new vegetable mixes, include some shredded vegetables in casseroles, and add different vegetables to soups and stews. Use chopped red or yellow peppers to "pep" up the flavor. Try vegetable salsas and fruit chutneys as accompaniments to meat or poultry in place of heavy gravies or sauces.
  • Try some lower-in-fat substitutes such as low fat cheese, salad dressing and evaporated skim milk. Try low cholesterol egg products. Use two egg whites instead of one whole egg to significantly reduce the fat and cholesterol content of some baked goods. See also: Defatting Your Recipes
  • When you use oil, select olive or canola oil. Drain off visible fat while cooking, blot pan-fried foods on paper towels to absorb extra grease, and allow soups to chill before reheating and serving so that the fat can be skimmed off the top.
  • Fruit PureesChoose roasting, poaching or stir frying as frequent cooking methods. Keep open-flame grilling of meats to a minimum as this practice produces cancer-promoting compounds. Avoid eating charred food. Microwave cooking is a healthful way to cook vegetables because the short cooking time reduces nutrient losses and usually no added water or fat is needed.
  • Reduce the fat in home baked goodies by substituting applesauce, pureed prunes, mashed bananas, or yogurt for up to half of the shortening. It works! Obviously prune puree would discolor a yellow cake but does well for chocolate cake and brownies. The end result is moist and fat content is reduced. See also: Fruit Puree Fat Replacement
  • Substitute some whole grain products for all-purpose flour in your cooking. Try whole wheat flour, oatmeal or flax in bread and muffins, or add some bran or wheat germ to your meatloaf. Try using some soy flour in biscuits and breads.
  • Try more fruit desserts (fresh, stewed, and cobblers) instead of cakes and cookies. Choose frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet instead of ice cream. Serve cake with fruit sauce instead of frosting or whipped cream.

Using sensible cooking methods, less fat, and adding more vegetables, fruits and whole grains to recipes are guaranteed winning techniques to set a better nutritional table. These steps can also help lower risk for chronic diseases such as cancer.

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.