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.