A lot of people think that cooking healthy may affect the final result and the taste of their food, which prevents them from starting to eat healthier, and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.
Big question: will it taste as good?
Ingredients like oils, cheese and creams may make the foods you eat more palatable, but they are far from being good for your health.
This is why you worry that if you eat healthier, you will not get to enjoy the great taste of the foods you really like. However, since you are decided to try healthy cooking, there are certain things you need to know.
So, it is a very important decision that you need to take. You are new to this, and you have no idea where to start. You are afraid that you may end up taking the wrong decisions, and you do not know how everything will work out for you in the end. Taking such a big step can mean a lot of things, and it is the unknown that frightens you most.
Do not be afraid. Healthy eating is not rocket science and there are plenty of things you can do to take steps in the right direction. Such doubts are normal and there are plenty of other people who have taken the same road, and they are now at its end, enjoying all the benefits of a healthier life. The following guide on the most important things to know about healthy cooking will help you get started.
Alternatives to cooking with oils
Cooking with oil is not a healthy choice in general, although there are oils that are healthier than others. The problem is that most Americans get more than one third of their intake of calories from fats, which leads to an important incidence of heart conditions among them.
For a healthy diet, you need to reduce this percentage from 34% to 20%. A simple, yet effective strategy to do that is by reducing the intake of oils in your food. Deep frying should be avoided. Replace fried foods with other cooking methods, such as roasting, baking or boiling, which are much healthier. Stir frying is alright, as long as you do not use too much oil.
The importance of fats
Fats are not necessarily bad for your health, and a bit of fat in your diet is needed, because of the essential role these fats play in your diet. For instance, the human body is not capable of producing fatty acids, so they must be acquired from food. These are good fats, unlike trans fats and saturated fats, which are, indeed, responsible for the high risk of heart conditions in the US.
You should not strive for a fat free diet, as this can lead to other health related problems. 7% of your calorie intake should come from healthy fats, while the rest should be, indeed, greatly reduced.
Healthy cooking is not different from any other kind of cooking
There is a major misconception that healthy cooking requires more time than any other kind of cooking. This is not true; actually, you only need to learn a few new things, and you will be good to go.
Boiling, grilling and baking are healthy cooking methods. These are not time consuming methods from your part, even if they, indeed, involve slow cooking time. You just need to put all the ingredients, according to the recipe, in a pot, and then just let it cook on its own, while you can do other things.
The most important fats that are good for your health
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for your health. You can obtain these fats from consuming more nuts of all kinds, olives, tofu, seeds, and fatty fish, with a high content of healthy fatty acids (herring, tuna, trout, salmon and sardines, among others).
How to improve the taste of foods that usually go well with cheese, oil or cream?
Taste is, of course, an issue. Fats give food a special tasty flavor, and you may think that it is difficult to find a replacement. However, this is not how things are. Instead of fats, you can use herbs and spices. These do not have any calories, but they make any food taste much better, while also providing you with some great health benefits.
Oregano, basil, mint, rosemary are all herbs that can greatly improve the taste of your food. What you can do, for instance, when you are cooking meat, is to let it marinate in a mix of herbs and spices before cooking. This method makes the meat more tender, and easier to digest, besides making it extra tasty. A little lemon juice, vinegar and the spices you like best are enough for a great marinade. The trick is to let it marinate overnight, so that all the flavors are absorbed by the meat.
The main problem with vegetables is that they must be cooked in a certain way, so they do not lose their most important nutrients. Boiling and steaming are the most recommended methods of cooking vegetables to avoid loss of nutrients.
Tomatoes and other veggies, like carrots, actually can enhance the nutrient content of a meal, when cooked, because they add to the mix, by releasing some of these nutrients in the water used for cooking.
Raw vegetables are most recommended for a healthy diet. But, if this is not an option for you, you can always cook them, and get the best of them.
What pans to choose for best cooking?
Non sticking pans are the best choice, because you do not have to add oil when cooking. You can make perfectly healthy scrambled eggs, but there are many other recipes that you can try. Another option is represented by Hard Anodized cookware. Baking sheets and special trays are also a good recommendation. Grilling can be done with utensils you have around the house.
Choosing the best foods when shopping at the supermarket
Eliminate all processed foods from your list. Aim for organic, as often as possible. Since you are at the supermarket, take your time to read the labels, this will help you stay clear of additional fat, sugar, salt and other preservatives.
The farmer’s market is always a good alternative to the supermarket, because this is where you will find plenty of organic, healthy foods available.
Here you will be able to shop for organic eggs, meat, veggies and spices. Since farmers use fewer pesticides, their produce is much healthier than what you can find elsewhere.
Alternatives to packaged foods
Packaged foods are a bad choice, because they are loaded with preservatives to prolong their shelf life. If you like jams or sauces, try making them yourself, and keep them in the freezer. They will taste better and they will be much healthier.
Dieting is about reducing the number of calories you eat every day. By eating healthy, you do this in a natural way, without starving yourself.
Slow cooking helps you combine various ingredients, such as meats, veggies, herbs and spices. This healthier way of eating will also help you shed pounds from your waist.
Making dips without the fat
If you like dips, there are ways to replace mayonnaise and fat sour cream with healthier alternatives, such as non fat yogurt and mayonnaise obtained from olive oil or canola oil.
Fried chicken can be healthy
You can make delicious fried chicken by baking it in the oven. Coat the meat beforehand with bread crumbs which will absorb the fat. You will obtain crunchy, great tasting meat. Another option for coating is to use Shake and Bake.