A large part of healthy eating involves choosing the right foods. In addition to choosing the right foods, health-conscious individuals must choose the right methods to prepare those foods in order to maximize their nutritional value.
Cooking methods such as frying can make for delicious meals, but such meals may not be so healthy. For example, each tablespoon of oil used when frying can add more than 100 calories to a meal. When counting calories, men and women should recognize that the way they prepare foods can affect the overall calorie count of a meal. In addition to choosing healthy cooking methods, health-conscious men and women can employ the following strategies to make meals as healthy as possible.
• Invest in new cookware. Choose nonstick cookware that will reduce the amount of oil, spray and butter needed to keep foods from sticking. Manufacturers are now touting ceramic cookware, which is free of trace metals or dangerous chemicals that can leach into food from the cooking surface. What’s more, pots and pans don’t contain chemical coatings that can eventually flake off into food.
• Stock up on healthy recipes. Purchase cookbooks that showcase healthy recipes or peruse the Internet for heathy recipes. Many websites cater to health-conscious foodies who do not want to sacrifice their health to enjoy delicious meals.
• Choose smart fats. All oils are loaded in calories, but healthy oils can still be used without sacrificing flavor. Olive oil is an unsaturated fat that is a much healthier choice than butter or saturated fats. When cooking with oil, do so in moderation.
• Think about baking foods. Baking is handy for more than breads and desserts. Baking is one method of cooking that may not require the addition of fat. Meats that are baked can be placed on top of a rack, so that excess fat drips off and is contained in the bottom of the pan.
• Explore poaching, broiling and grilling. Poaching, broiling and grilling are three healthy alternatives to frying. Broiling and grilling expose food to direct heat, so it is a fast method of cooking and may not be appropriate for foods that require longer cooking times to tenderize. Poaching is the process of simmering foods in water or another flavorful liquid.
• Use minimally refined ingredients. Select among whole grains and ingredients that have not been refined. The closer a product is to its natural state, the more nutritional properties it is likely to have retained.
• Season foods yourself. Rather than relying on prepackaged seasonings, mix your own blends. Packaged seasonings generally contain a lot of salt. Use fresh herbs whenever possible for the freshest of flavor.
• Add heat for flavor. Spicy pepper, dry mustard and other zesty flavor enhancers can make foods taste delicious without added calories.
• Try low-fat or fat-free dairy. Substitute low-fat alternatives for full-fat dairy items. For example, Greek yogurt can sometimes be used in place of less healthy ingredients such as mayonnaise.
• Trim excess fats. Prepare meats and poultry well by trimming the fat and skin to make the final product even healthier.
By remembering healthy eating involves not just the foods they cook, but also how those foods are cooked, home cooks can make their meals that much healthier.