As we hear “eat healthy” we can only think of munching greens and salads like a cow. Eating healthy food doesn’t mean giving up your favourite foods and switching to salads. For healthy eating, healthy cooking is the key factor. Healthy cooking is easy. In many cases, your favourite recipes can be modified so they offer a healthier alternative.
Healthy cooking begins when you are shopping: Choose the low fat version of a food if it exists – for example milk, [less fat milk], cheese, yoghurt, salad dressings and gravies. Choose leaner meat cuts, choose skinless chicken breasts. Try roasted snacks than buying packets of deep fried namkeens, fresh fruits instead of processed foods. It’s a good idea to minimize ‘hidden fats’ by choosing lean meats and reduced fat dairy products. Processed foods can also have lots of hidden fats. Dietary fats are best when they come from the unrefined natural fats found in nuts, seeds, fish, soy, olives and avocado because this fat is accompanied by other good nutrients.
General suggestions on healthy cooking methods include:
- Steam, bake, grill, braise, boil or microwave your foods instead of frying. The food can be tastier by marinating with interesting spices, herbs and baking instead of frying. If you add fats when cooking, keep them to a minimum and use mono-unsaturated oils like olive oil. A little added oil can be a good thing. If you add a little oil to vegetable and legume dishes, it will help your body absorb fat soluble vitamins and antioxidant phytochemicals.
- Modify or eliminate recipes that include butter or use deep frying method.
- Avoid using oils and butter as lubricants – use non-stick cookware instead. It is always advisable to invest in a good non stick cookware.
- Remove chicken skin, which is high in fat.
- If you need to use oil, try cooking sprays or apply oil with a pastry brush.
- Cook in liquids (such as stock, wine, lemon juice, fruit juice, vinegar or water) instead of oil.
- When a recipe calls for cream as a thickener, use low fat yoghurt, low fat soy-milk, evaporated skim milk or cornstarch.
- When browning vegetables, put them in a hot pan then spray with oil, rather than adding the oil first to the pan. This reduces the amount of oil that vegetables (such as mushrooms) can absorb during cooking.
- An alternative to browning vegetables by pan-frying is to cook them first in the microwave, then crisp them under the griller for a minute or two.
- Add extra zing to the food by adding culinary herbs [which are leafy plants , like oregano, tulsi leaves, coriander leaves]that add flavour and colour to all types of meals. In many cases, they can replace the flavour of salt and oil. Herbs can be added to soups, breads, mustards, salad dressings, vinegars, desserts and drinks. Herbs such as coriander, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon-grass are especially complimentary in vegetable-based stir-fry recipes.
- Limit your consumption of salty processed meats, such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, frankfurters and chicken loaf. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled vegetables tend to be packaged with salt.
- Spend a little time on presentation. You are more likely to enjoy a meal if it’s visually appealing as well as tasty.
- Water soluble vitamins are delicate and easily destroyed during preparation and cooking. Suggestions include: Scrub vegetables rather than peel them, as many nutrients are found close to the skin. Microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling them.
- If you like to boil vegetables, keep the vitamin-rich water to use as a stock and do not over boil them.
- Include more stir-fry recipes in your diet. Stir-fried vegetables are cooked quickly to retain their crunch (and associated nutrients).
Tips for Eating Healthy when Eating Out !!
- As a beverage choice, ask for water or order fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other drinks [like fresh lime soda or fresh juice] without added sugars.
- In a restaurant, start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner.
- Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
- Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebabs, or pasta with a tomato sauce. Order foods that do not have creamy sauces or gravies
- Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
- Choose a “small” or “medium” portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages.
- Order an item from the menu instead heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
- Choose fruits for dessert most often.
- On long commutes or shopping trips, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, to help you avoid stopping for sweet or fatty snacks.