With more than 68% of Americans being considered as either overweight or obese according to the CDC, it is imperative that we start to pay as much attention to how we prepare our food as to the ingredients we use.
Not only do certain cooking methods strip the ingredients of most of its nutritional value, but the oil and flavorings used during the cooking process also substantially increase the dish’s calorie content.
Thankfully, there are many alternatives to deep-frying and grilling that allow you to prepare nutritious and delicious meals with minimal effort.
Poaching is often underutilized
Poaching is one of the healthiest yet most underutilized methods of cooking. While poached eggs are a well-loved breakfast staple, it is by no means the only food that can be prepared in this manner.
That said, the technique typically works best for delicate food items such as eggs, fish, white chicken meat, fruit, and vegetables. Water is the most calorie-deprived liquid to poach in although milk, broth, and even wine can be used.
When poaching meat, it is important to remember that you won’t be able to tell whether it is cooked through simply by looking at it. Instead, make use of a meat thermometer to ensure your meat is safely cooked. Fresh pork and beef should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit while chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees.
Stir-frying is quick and versatile
Stir-frying is a traditional Asian cooking method that entails cooking small pieces of meat and vegetables in a hot pan. While a wok is ideal to make a stir-fry in, a quality pan with a non-stick surface can also be used with great success.
As stir-frying relies on very hot temperatures, it is best to use a pan that can heat up fast and offers good heat dispersion. Since you only need a small amount of oil or cooking spray when making a stir-fry, there is no need to worry about consuming copious amounts of harmful fats.
You can also make your meal even healthier by making use of olive or nut oil instead of your typical cooking oil. Thanks to the short cooking time, not much of the nutritional value of the ingredients will be lost, making stir-frying one of the healthiest methods of cooking.
Steaming helps retain nutrients
One of the simplest and healthiest ways to prepare food, and vegetables, in particular, is by steaming it. According to a substantial review of various studies, steaming results in the least amount of nutrients being lost during the cooking process.
The nutrients are firstly retained because the food is not submerged in any liquid and secondly because steaming requires a substantially lower temperature than boiling or grilling does, for example.
There are a number of ways to steam your food including making use of a perforated basket suspended over a pot of simmering liquid and making use of a dedicated microwave steamer. You can add seasoning to your food after it is cooked or add your flavorings to the simmering water for a subtle yet delicious flavor infusion.
Apart from vegetables, you can also experiment with steaming fish, chicken, and even dumplings for a delicious and nutritious meal.
The way we prepare our food is as important as the ingredients we use. With a bit of practice and a few handy recipes you will soon be poaching, stir-frying, and steaming your way to healthy, scrumptious meals.