Maximize Your Meal: The Importance of Preparation
Pull, blanch, baste, bake. With all the things we do to our food in terms of preparation, it’s hardly a surprise that there’s anything left at the end of it all. Of course, as tasty and gourmet-worthy as a dish may look, the real losses are hardly perceptible. The saying is true: What is essential is invisible to the eye…essential nutrients, that is.
With the advent of new and improved recipes, cooking utensils, and methods, the opportunities to produce the perfect taste has reached astounding heights. But in the pursuit of gastronomic delight, we’ve forgotten the true essence and purpose of food: To provide our bodies with the proper nutrients in order for them to function and grow.
Healthy eating is often associated with a deprivation of sorts, and there is a belief that healthy food doesn’t taste as good as the unhealthy options we’re accustomed to — this is where the majority of us make a crucial mistake. Contrary to popular belief, being healthy doesn’t mean depriving yourself of food; that’s dieting. Being healthy means buying nutrient-rich fresh food, and maintaining those nutrients during the cooking process.
How the Cooking of Food Impacts the Overall Healthy Aspect of Your Diet
Cooking methods that keep food healthy have some things in common. For one, they diminish the use of fat substitutes and cooking oils that encourage the build up of cholesterol in the body. Second, they also diminish our consumption of oxidized fat as well as potential carcinogens that occur during the cooking process. Here are a few of the methods that preserve the original nutrient content of food, as well as methods to avoid due to their negative impact on the mineral content of food:
List of Healthy Cooking Methods
- Steaming – Most ideal for vegetables and fish, this cooking method is known to preserve the
original look and taste of food. It is best to avoid over steaming, however, as this may lead to
water-logged meat and vegetables, which aren’t very palatable or appealing to look at.
- Baking – From meats and vegetables to desserts, baking is a cooking method that can be
used on almost any type of food. Aside from its versatility, it includes the health benefit
of requiring little or no use of fat substitutes in the form of cooking oil, thereby decreasing
added fat and cholesterol in the diet.
- Stir-Frying – Using an increase in temperature to effectively shorten cooking time, this
method locks nutrients in the food while keeping it hot, crisp and delicious. Medium heat
cooking also reduces the use of increased amounts of oil. For folks who want healthier
options, using extra virgin olive oil and chicken broth are nutritious choices.
- Poaching – Not just great for eggs, poaching works wonders with meat products as well. This
cooking practice also negates the use of oil, keeping the diet cholesterol-free. It also reworks
tough and fatty meat, making it soft and palatable to the taste.
- Sauteing – A high-heat cooking method, sautéing likewise minimizes cooking time and
preserves nutrients. With the use of cooking oil, however, the problem of oxidized fats arise.
Chicken broth may be used as an oil substitute for a healthier meal.
Unhealthy Cooking Methods
- Deep Frying – A definite no-no, since it uses increased amounts of fat and cholesterol while
producing harmful carcinogens that have cumulative harmful effects on your health.
- Microwaving – Though popular, this cooking method takes food to undesirable extremes,
warping protein structures to such an extent that no nutrients remain.
Cooking methods are only an initial step. Do some additional research and find health-friendly food substitutes that preserve gastronomic value as well as pose significant health benefits. Pair healthy eating with regular exercise and make the most of the vitamins and minerals you get from food. Finally, it is important to remember that healthy food is not something to be feared as lacking taste, but what food should taste like. It is also not equivalent to lessening the amount of food we eat or eliminating great taste from our diets. Health is something that we should begin to incorporate into our meals, not only for the present benefits but also for what a sound mind and healthy body can bring us in the future.
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This has been a guest post by contributor Isabella York, for Easy Ways to Go Green.
Isabella York is a mother dedicated to healthy living, without giving up her life in the process. Along with raising her son, she works for Balsam Hill, a purveyor of Artificial Christmas Trees and Christmas Trees.
(Photo Via: George Foreman Cooking)