Do you engage in healthy cooking? It seems that many of us get so involved in how our foods taste that we tend to ignore the health factor. We focus too much on the food selection process while ignoring the way our foods are cooked.
The facts are that the cooking process changes virtually all the food’s element with the exception of fat, and so for that reason, we should learn what those changes are and how they affect our overall dietary intake. This is the true essence of healthy cooking.
Learning More About Healthy Cooking
Thus, if you really desire to learn to prepare and cook healthy recipes, then you’ll need to learn the right processes required for those recipes to truly capture all the health benefits. The sad fact is that many times healthy recipes are improperly cooked and even prepared wrong which results in the missing out of the real health benefits that you are seeking for you and your family. The cooking process affects the final product in terms of health and nutrition much more than people think. Therefore, wouldn’t it be a shame to lose out in the end after all your hard work and preparation? Absolutely it would!
When cooking is defined in the dictionary, we see that it is described as food preparation by means of applying heat in various ways. And those ways encompass methods like baking, roasting, broiling, simmering, boiling, steaming, frying, and stewing. You really need to identify the healthy cooking methods best suited for you and your family:
Roasting – This is a method that allows you to cook foods in their own juices. Often times, roasting is performing on an open fire. We can include grilling in this group as it too employs radiant heat in the cooking process. In many instances should the food be too large or even compact, we recommend that roasting be used if possible.
The principle of radiation heat directly works at the food’s surface and then the heat move inwards ensuring the food is cooked completely and properly. As the radiation heat applies a sear on the food’s surface, this entraps the food’s juices and doesn’t permit them to escape. What happens then is that the food cooks in its own juices. In order to achieve complete and even cooking, the food needs to be turned periodically during roasting.
Baking – This cooking method is where foods are cooked in the dry heat provided by an oven where the heating area is closed most of the time. When you use this cooking style, then you should ensure that the food you are baking either contains a lot of natural moisture, or that you apply moisture to it in terms of water or sauces so that the food doesn’t burn or dry out in the closed area of your oven. This is simply due to the existence of hot and dry air found in most ovens which remove moisture from foods. Therefore, whenever you bake foods in your oven, you need to take care that it doesn’t get burnt up during the process.
Boiling – This is a very popular method of cooking which usually starts with the boiling of water as a basis in which the food is cooked. When water boils, small bubbles of air are created and are formed at the bottom of the boiling pot when the water gets hotter. These water bubbles contain very hot air and start rising. Over time, more and more bubbles are created and then the water boils rapidly.
The thing that people don’t realize about boiling, is that when you boil food quickly, you will not get your food cooked faster – rather you will only apply more damage to the food particles in the boiling water Thus, when you steam or boil your food too fast, you only waste energy just to get food that is less tasty in the end. The process of boiling just about always employs water, but you will find a few cases where other liquids can be used such as broth or even milk in some cases. It is the starchy foods like pasta and rice that is most suitable for boiling. When boiling these foods, it makes the overall recipe healthier and nutritious.
Should you use milk for your boiling medium, you should keep in mind that milk is much more dense than water and will generate less steam and fewer bubbles. In spite of this, it is surprising to learn that milk actually will boil faster than water will. Thus, be careful when boiling milk.
Stewing – The stewing method is a very popular one that is often used in the healthy cooking kitchen to cook healthy recipes. This process is characterized by the way that foods are cooked in liquids which are maintained slightly under the boiling point of that liquid. Lots of people confuse stewing with the process of simmering. Simmering is where the foods are cooked at the boiling point.
An elegant way of achieving a solid stewing process is to use double boilers. This is where two vessels are used. The outer vessel contains a boiling liquid while the inner vessel is maintained just below the boiling point. This system will ensure that the inner vessel liquid is properly maintained to achieve quality stewing.
Steaming – This process is often used in the healthy cooking kitchen. It merely uses heat from steam to cook foods. There’s many different ways that you can employ steam in the cooking process. A very popular and common way to steam is by putting foods in a vessel which contains holes which allow steam from boiling water underneath the vessel to pass through the food.
Steaming is best suited for items like vegetables that already contain lots of natural water. It is also a good way to ensure that nutrients are not cooked out of the food.
Frying – As most of us already know, frying is not the best method for preparing food in a health conscious kitchen. The main reason is because fried foods are typically cooked in hot fats. The thing with fats is that they are hard to digest and it clogs our arteries, and health people should not use this process with unhealthy fats. In order to fry foods, you must heat a large amount of fat and get it to a very high temperature.
Using the Healthiest Ways To Cook
Foods are then submerged in these hot oils and left there until completely cooked. Even though cooks will drain off the excess fat from these foods, there is still a huge amount entrapped in the food from the frying process.
All these cooking methods can be used in to prepare healthy recipes with the exception of frying. Of course, you have to use each of these methods properly. Healthy cooking really depends on understanding how these processes actually affect the foods used.
Keeping Health Foods in their Healthiest State
One of the things that we must keep in the back of our minds while trying to become healthy cooks is what the food itself offers us in terms of general nutrition and vitamins. The fact of the matter is that it most cases, a particular food comes into our kitchen in its highest form of nutrition. In other words, whatever we decide to do to it will most likely diminish the nutritional benefits it has to offer us – unless, of course we decide to eat it raw.
Obviously we can pull this off whenever we refer to vegetables or even most processed foods, but we all know that processed food shouldn’t really been in a healthy cooking kitchen in the first place. Processed foods are something we are trying to stay away from – it some cases, we cannot do it entirely though.
But in the case of raw vegetables, we can always prepare a fresh salad and then further enhance its nutritional state by adding a nice salad dressing which has an olive oil base. Of course, there are many hard core health nuts out there who will argue that we diminished the nutrition of our veggies whenever we decided to peel them for the salad. And when you think about it, it is really hard to dispute that fact.
In the end, we realize that eating, and also healthy eating, is something that need to be enjoyed and done with pleasure – even healthy cooking and eating should be. This is why we ought to stay abreast of the best ways to prepare foods that can find the proper balance between nutrition and flavor. If nutrition is all you want, then you should probably use something like a Vita Mix and liquefy the most nutritional foods without any concern for tasted and pleasure. Most of us probably know of someone like that.
Using Natural Liquids From the Foods
This is probably the best kept secret among many skilled cooks and chefs. The most flavorful way to maintain a healthy food in its most nutritious state is by using its own juices.
I remember many years ago when camping out with some close friends. I had brought along some flank steak that had been in my freezer for a long time. There was quite a bit of it, and my thoughts were to use it in perhaps a soup or a pot of stew that all of us could share.
One of my friends named Bill insisted to prepare the steak straight up and serve it along with some roasted vegetables – like perhaps potatoes and carrots.
“But isn’t the meat too tough?” I replied to that idea. “Wouldn’t this be better suited for a stew?”
“Not necessarily,” said Bill. “Let’s give it a little seasoning and let it slow simmer for a couple of hours – with just a dab of vegetable oil.”
That’s exactly what we did and it was marvelous!! And tender too!! What Bill had taught me is that you can never go wrong by cooking foods in their own juices – especially meats. However, over the years, I have applied that to all sorts of foods.
What is the natural liquid of veggies? The answer is water of course. I love slow simmering vegetables in a pan along with a little butter. This works great if you have a main course that takes some time to prepare. You can slow simmer some veggies to go along with them. And the great thing is that you can time the side dishes to be ready as the main course finishes up – what could be better than that?
As we can see, using a food’s natural juices to cook it in is great for favor, but it is also a staple in healthy cooking too. Think about it – aren’t we going a long way toward maintaining the original nutrition of a food when we utilize this healthy cooking trick? Of course we are.
I encourage you to do as I have done over the years in your healthy kitchen, discover your own ways of cooking healthy foods in their own juices. You will find that they are the most flavorful things you have ever eaten and you will feel great as a result – what could be better than that?
As you can see, healthy cooking does not have to be something that is painful which causes you to miss out on things you and your family loves. The irony is that when you begin practicing eating healthy foods, you will discover that they have more flavor and they are more satisfying.
Oh sure – all of us love to enjoy chocolate and ice cream occasionally, and there is nothing at all wrong with that. Healthy cooking and eating the right foods does not mean you have to give all that up – it just means to keep it in moderation. Why begin eating healthy and do it for two months? Try out this test for yourself – see how you look and feel after two month – my guess is you will never go back.