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Learn How to Cook the Healthier Way

Health Benefits,TIPS AND TRICKS

When you are trying to adopt healthy eating habits to help stay as young as you can for as long as you can, how you cook your food is just as important as what you eat. It is possible to prepare your favorite recipes using basic cooking methods that use less fat than traditional approaches.

You don’t have to be an accomplished cook to create low fat healthful cuisine that tastes great. The main challenge to eating well while watching calories is to choose nutrient dense food and avoid excess dietary fat without giving up flavour. Below are five low fat cooking techniques you can master.

  • Steaming– this is simply cooking food in an enclosed environment infused with steam. Light steaming is one of the healthiest cooking methods, and is particularly well suited to cooking vegetables, fish fillets and chicken breasts. Steaming helps retain nutrients. This technique is very easy to master, simply place the food in a perforated basket and suspend it above simmering water or better still you can use an electric steamer. You can also add seasonings to the water to flavor the food as it cooks.

Try this– steam one fish fillet by wrapping it in foil with few garlic cloves, grated fresh ginger, onion and scent leaves. After squeezing fresh lemon juice over the fish, wrap it closed and place in a steamer basket. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a pot, put basket over water and cover. Steam for about 6 minutes.

  • Stir-frying– this is also a healthy cooking method because it only requires a little amount of vegetable oil, as opposed to the saturated fats associated with traditional frying method. Stir-fried vegetables are cooked for a very short period, which helps retain more nutrients as well as texture, flavor and color. This method of cooking requires that food be cut into small, uniform pieces to ensure every ingredient is cooked thoroughly. This method of cooking requires your full attention because continuous stirring and sometimes tossing of the ingredients are necessary to prevent food from sticking to the pan.

Tip– vegetables should be properly diced or chopped; meats should be trimmed of fat and sliced. Spices should be laid out on a plate and ready to go.

Try this– heat a non-stick wok/pan over high heat; spray with oil. Add ½ cup chopped onions, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 medium sized chopped red bell pepper and a dash of chili pepper flakes; stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add ½ cup chicken broth and ½ cup white wine; simmer for about 2 minutes. Add ½ pound of medium-size shrimp; cover and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Microwaving– “microwaving cooks essentially like steaming,” says Victoria a Wise, a chef and author of The Well-Filled Microwave. “And like steaming, it lends itself to low fat or no fat cooking. The foods that do well these ways are vegetables, which retain their color along with their nutrients, and fish and chicken, which plump up well compared to feet and pork”. The power of the microwave depends on the wattage per square foot of internal oven space: the higher the wattage and smaller the oven, the more powerful.

Tips– cover food to retain the moisture, this gives it its succulence. Although some manuals suggest using plastic wrap to cover, some studies show that molecules from the wrap can travel into food. Use covered casserole dishes or cover with a flat, glass plate.

Remember to use microwave-safe glass, ceramic or planting cooking vessels. Most glass bowls and baking dishes are safe, Wise says, and ceramic and plastic items will say on the packaging if they are microwave safe. Never put metal, Styrofoam or plastic deli containers in the microwave.

Try this– place 1 ¾ to 2 pounds of fish fillet in a large microwave-safe dish. Prepare a marinade of your choice. Add marinade to fish and set aside for 20 minutes. Cover the dish and microwave on high for 4-9 minutes (depending on thickness of fillet) until juices are clear and fish flakes in center. Remove and let cool for 2 minutes.

  • Roasting and baking– roasting is similar to baking food, but is usually done at higher temperatures. Roasting is good for meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. To keep your roast as healthy as possible, lightly coat the food with olive oil and put a rack in the roasting pan so that the fat can drip away from the food. Additionally, use fat free liquids, such as lemon juice, to baste the food in place of the pan drippings. Roasted vegetables are a delicious way to include more vegetables in your diet, but remember to roast the vegetables in a separate pan if you are having them with meat, so that the fat from the meat does not end up soaked into the vegetables.
  • Pressure cooking– food cooked in a pressure cooker requires very little water and time, which means that vitamins and minerals are kept intact. The cooker seals in steam created by the boiling liquid, which intensifies the flavors. This means that you don’t need to add any oil or fat for taste or richness. Soups and stews that would usually take hours to simmer can be ready in 15 minutes, rice in five and most vegetables in about three.

Tips– Use a timer when pressure-cooking. This method cooks so quickly that every second counts.

Don’t fill your cooker more than two-thirds full. When cooking foods that expand, such as beans and rice, fill only halfway to allow for the build up of steam and pressure.

Be very careful when opening the lid. Never put your face over the pit because of the heat of the steam.

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