Most of us are pretty savvy about what to put in our grocery carts. With each grocery trip we are reading more labels and adding more organic foods. However, to truly maximize the health of your family’s meals you must analyze the way you are preparing the ingredients. For instance, scientific studies show that low cooking temperatures and short cooking times are two of the most valuable components to enhance the flavor of food and help it retain important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. As you prepare your meals this week, see which cooking methods you could swap out for a few of my healthier suggestions:
- Try using a marinade. Garlic, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, turmeric and other herbs add flavor and may reduce the level of heterocyclic amines or HCA’s. If you are unfamiliar with this term the formation of them may be carcinogenic.
- Break out the slow cooker. Add just about any combination of fresh vegetables, lean protein choices and herbs. The health benefit is in the lower temperature cooking process. Studies are showing that slow cookers may help to preserve the nutrients of the ingredients that can be lost when cooking at high temperatures.
- Use your steamer. Sometimes we forget just how simple it is to steam our vegetables. This method varies according to personal preference, but crisp fresh vegetables retain more nutrients then other cooking methods. Experiment to see what you like. Adding rosemary, basil, lemon, garlic or any of your favorite herbs to your steaming water may enhance the flavor experience for you.
- Pre-cook meats. If you are going to grill meats, pre-cook them in the oven or on the stove. If you do so, then you can finish the cooking process with far less time on the grill. Less time on the grill means that your meat has fewer carcinogens.
- Use the correct oil. All oil is not alike. It isn’t as simple as swapping out olive oil for hydrogenated oils and calling it a day. Different oils have different cooking temperatures. In another blog entry I will go into which oils to use when. For now, just remember that extra virgin olive oil is better used for drizzling on foods and used in dressings, and high smoke point oils such as almond and avocado are better suited for sautéing, frying and other high heat applications.*An excellent resource entitled "Frying Food in Olive oil" by Gregorio Varela, Professor of Nutrition, Madrid University is available from the International Olive Council (IOC).
More from health