7 Healthy cooking methods you should master
It's that time of the day again. You're sitting there, staring at another chicken breast, wondering what to do with it for dinner.
If you're like a lot of home cooks this time of year, you might be looking for healthy ways to get dinner on the table. Well, here's a handy little guide to help you find the absolute healthiest method for cooking all your family favorites.
- What it is: Roasting uses high heat — 400 degrees F or higher — either in an oven or over an open flame.
- Best foods to roast: Vegetables and meats like chicken and beef.
- Why it's healthy: When roasting meats, place over a roasting rack so the fat drips away from the meat. Roasting also encourages caramelization of the sugars in vegetables, adding flavor without a lot of fat.
- What you need: Roasting pan and rack.
- Recipe ideas: Shake up your roasting routine with an oven-roasted curried cauliflower recipe or this simple but classic roasted chicken.
- What it is: Steam under pressure cooks foods faster and forces moisture into meats, turning tough cuts tender far more quickly than braising does.
- Best foods to pressure-cook: Beans, grains and cheap cuts of meat because it tenderizes quickly.
- Why it's healthy: Full flavor without cooking in fat is the obvious benefit, but some experts say it's because the food cooks more quickly, retaining more nutrients.
- What you need: A pressure cooker and pressure cooker chart to guide you through cooking times.
- Recipe ideas: Try this pressure cooker vegetable pasta soup recipe or pressure cooker pork hominy stew.
- What it is: Cooking foods in liquid at just-below boiling — can be done in shallow or deep liquids.
- Best foods for poaching: Delicate foods like eggs and fish.
- Why it's healthy: Foods are cooked in flavorful liquid rather than fats.
- What you need: A pan that holds just the right amount of liquid and isn't too large for the food.
- Recipe ideas: Try this poached egg over bok choy or slow cooker poached halibut in spicy broth.
- What it is: After searing foods until just browned over high heat, the pan is deglazed with a small amount of liquid and cooked in a covered pan slowly over low heat.
- Best foods to braise: Sturdy veggies like potatoes and carrots and tougher cuts of meats like beef and pork roasts.
- Why it's healthy: Because food is just seared in a small amount of oil and then cooked in flavorful liquid, braising gives foods all the flavor without the fat.
- What you need: Wooden spoon for scraping bits off the bottom of the pan, Crock-Pot or Dutch oven.
- Recipe ideas: Try crispy chicken thighs with braised kale or braised Swiss chard.
- What it is: Cooking food over a direct, high heat one side at a time.
- Best foods for grilling: Meats, steaks, burgers, veggies, fruits and even bread.
- Why it's healthy: Grilling is considered a healthy alternative to frying because instead of cooking in oil, the oil drips away from the food.
- What you need: Grill, coals, rack and elongated spatula or tongs.
- Recipe ideas: Try this grilled chicken flatbread or one of these grilled corn recipes.
- What it is: Cooking foods quickly over high heat in a small amount of water.
- Best foods for steaming: Veggies, seafood.
- Why it's healthy: Besides of the lack of oil, steaming is healthier than boiling because food cooks quickly, and it doesn't leach out the food's nutrients.
- What you need: Metal steam basket.
- Recipe ideas: Try this steamed asparagus with lemon zest or super-easy steamed dumplings.
- What it is: A Chinese cooking method that uses a very hot wok or pan to quickly sear chopped foods.
- Best foods for stir-frying: Equal-sized chopped pieces of vegetables, meat or tofu.
- Why it's healthy: Because it uses high heat, stir-fry uses far less oil than frying without sacrificing taste.
- What you need: Wok, super-hot heat source and good kitchen ventilation.
- Recipe ideas: Try this 30-minute tofu and veggie stir-fry or easy orange chicken noodle stir-fry.