Food preparation and cooking
Cooking food in a healthy way does not take extra time, effort, or special equipment.
A few simple adjustments to your usual cooking methods may be all you need to improve the nutritional quality of the food you cook. It won't lose flavour. In fact, in many cases it will taste even better.
Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet is one of the most important changes that you can make to benefit your health (see Reducing saturated fat). This means choosing ingredients carefully, removing all visible fat, adding as little extra fat as possible while cooking, and discarding any excess.
Reducing added salt is another dietary change that will benefit your health, especially if you have a tendency for high blood pressure (see Reducing salt intake). This requires a gradual reduction in the amount of salt you add to your food and becoming accustomed instead to healthier flavourings, such as seasonings, herbs, and spices.
In the following pages we give you a few ideas to help you find healthier ways of preparing and cooking food at home.
Preparing food: benefits of marinating
In addition to flavouring poultry, meat, fish, and vegetables, marinating also helps to tenderize meat. And studies have shown that marinating foods prior to cooking them on a barbecue reduces the harmful hydrocarbons that are produced by this cooking method.
To make a simple marinade, use any combination of citrus juice and fresh herbs. Pour the mixture over the raw ingredients, cover, and marinate in the fridge for a few hours before cooking.
Cooking food: experiment with seasoning
Healthy food need not taste bland or uninteresting. It does, however, require an adjustment in your sense of taste if you are used to seasoning everything you eat with salt and enjoy the flavour that fat gives to meat, poultry, breads, and pastries. You can experiment with herbs and spices, or try marinating foods in citrus juices before cooking.
- For the best flavour, dry roast and grind your own spices.
- Use fresh or dried herbs.
- Lemon or lime juice squeezed over food during and after cooking imparts a fresh, tangy taste; grated lemon zest can also be added during cooking.
- A dash of vinegar - balsamic, red or white wine, herb, or fruit - added towards the end of the cooking time adds a zesty flavour.
- Sprinkle some toasted nuts or seeds over a dish for a crunchy topping.
- Garnish a dish with roast peppers for a sweet, smoky taste.
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