10 Healthy Cooking Methods For Better Nutrition

By:    Published: March 11, 2012

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To maintain a healthy diet, adults should limit their intake of calories from fat. When we cook at home we can limit the amount of fat we consume by sticking with healthy cooking methods. You don’t have to be a trained chef or have a state of the art kitchen to cook healthy meals at home. You can employ healthy cooking methods at home by utilizing healthy cooking techniques that will allow you to control your family’s consumption of fat and calories while retaining the nutrients and flavor of food.

1. Baking

Baking is not only meant for making cakes, cookies and pies. When it comes to cooking, baking is a technique that can be used to cook many different foods. When we bake foods, it is not necessary to add fat to the dish. Bake your food either covered or uncovered, adding just a little bit of water to retain moisture. Simply place the food in a baking dish and set the dish in the oven. The hot, dry air of your oven will cook the food through. Some specific foods that take well to baking include:

  • Lean meats
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

2. Braising

When braising, the food is first seared on the stovetop at a high temperature. Once the ingredient is browned, the dish is then finished off slowly after the addition of water or broth. Afterward, the liquid being used to braise is often used as a sauce. The sauce is rich, nutritious and flavorful. Common recipes that use the braising technique include:

  • Stew
  • Pot roast
  • Chicken Fricassee
  • Goulash
  • Braised shark or swordfish

3. Roasting

Roasting uses the dry heat of your oven to cook food. It is a method that is similar to baking, but is typically done at a higher temperature. When roasting, place your ingredients in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet. If you intend to roast poultry or beef, it is best to use a roasting rack. A roasting rack will keep your meat or poultry elevated so that it is not resting in fat drippings. If you want to utilize the drippings to create gravy, cool them first, then strain away the congealed fat. If you choose to baste your roasted food, don’t baste with the fat drippings. Instead, use liquids that are free from fat like:

  • Lemon juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Wine
  • Spice-infused water
  • Apple juice

4. Broiling And Grilling

When grilling or broiling, your food is exposed to direct heat, which results in the food being cooked rather quickly. The most common method for grilling in the United States is barbecue. When using your outdoor grill or barbecue, the food is placed on a rack above lit charcoal or gas-heated briquettes. Grilling allows the fat from the food to drip away, making it a healthier method of cooking. Broiling is similar to grilling, but it is done indoors in your oven. When broiling, use a broil pan or rack to allow the fat to drip away during the cooking process. Common foods that take well to broiling and grilling include:

  • Tender cuts of meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Vegetables

5. Poaching

When poaching your food, you will need a covered pan that is just large enough to fit your ingredients, so you will utilize only a small amount of liquid. On the stovetop you will gradually simmer the food in a liquid until it is tender and thoroughly cooked. Chicken and fish are the most commonly poached proteins. Liquids to consider for poaching include:

  • Water
  • Broth
  • Juice
  • Vinegar

6. Sautéing

Sautéing cooks food quickly, provided that your ingredients are cut thin and in fairly small pieces. To avoid using added fat when sautéing, cook in a non-stick pan. Using non-stick cookware will allow you to use only small amounts of oil. Depending upon your recipe you may be able to replace the oil with ingredients such as:

  • Cooking spray
  • Water
  • Broth

7. Steaming

Steaming is a simple and healthy way to cook. Typically, when you steam food, you will place the food in a basket that is suspended above simmering water. If you so choose, you may season the water with spices or use a flavorful liquid in its place. This will allow the food to absorb the seasonings as it cooks. Vegetables are frequently steamed; this allows the vegetables to retain their natural flavor without the addition of salt.

8. Stir-Frying

Stir-fry is a traditional form of Asian cooking. When stir-frying, it is best to cut your ingredients into small, similarly sized pieces. Food will cook quickly, and will need to be stirred frequently. When stir-frying, it is best to cook in a wok or non-stick frying pan, and you will need only a minimal amount of cooking oil or spray. Try to avoid using teriyaki and soy sauce when stir-frying, as they are both high in sodium. Instead try:

  • Vegetable stock
  • Chicken stock
  • Fish stock
  • Wine

9. Using Herbs And Spices

To add flavor to your meals avoid using prepackaged spice mixes. As an alternative, try using fresh or dried herbs and spices. Adding herbs and spices to your recipes is a great way to enhance flavor and color without adding fat and salt. When using fresh herbs, add them to the dish when the cooking process is almost complete. This will provide optimal flavor and color. If using dried herbs and spices, add them at the beginning of cooking so that the flavor has time to absorb into your food. Tasty herbs to keep in the kitchen include:

  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Marjoram
  • Dry mustard

10. Using Healthy Food Preparation Methods

When you choose to cook your own meals at home, you get to decide how to prepare your dishes. Here are some tips for healthy food preparation:

  • Research healthy recipes and cookbooks
  • Choose lean cuts of meat
  • Opt for white meat chicken
  • Remove skin from chicken
  • Substitute egg whites for yolks whenever possible. (2 whites= 1yolk)
  • Use low fat dairy products whenever possible
  • Limit or omit salt whenever possible
  • Opt for low-fat or light dressings, marinades or dips

When trying to stick to a healthy diet, it is important to incorporate healthy cooking techniques into your meal preparation. You don’t need a lot of experience in the kitchen, cooking healthy is actually quite simple. Use these healthy tips in your kitchen daily and try to incorporate some healthier methods into your favorite recipes. You will be able to cook flavorful, healthy food for you and your family.

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