Cooking method plays an important role in maintaining nutritional values in a food. There are few facts about cooking that we should understand.
- Many foods are healthy and nutritious but they do make a difference in how they are prepared.
- There are many techniques available in our everyday cooking that will help to retain the nutrients without adding on to the calories.
- Hence by choosing the right amount of food and selecting correct method of preparing the food will always be a challenge in the weight loss regime.
Yes, we are health conscious, we do understand the importance of physical activity and diet. Yes, we need to control the portion size. Yes, we need to consciously select the food for a healthy living. But still, am I lagging behind somewhere? Health comes as a package where you give importance to activity as well as the food that you eat and even the method of preparing that food.
Food, by itself, is safe and good but it becomes unhealthy by the way it is cooked. For eg: We always suggest eating fish as fish are loaded with nutrients. But which one is healthy? Fish fry or steamed fish salad? The choice is yours. Hence health comes in a combination of what food do we select and how do we prepare.
Hence the main challenge towards healthy weight loss is to choose nutrient-dense foods and avoid too much addition of fat without giving up the flavor. There are various ways in which you can maintain juicy and flavorful food without adding too many calories. Cooking can work in two ways wherein, heat can breakdown few vitamins present in foods to 15 to 20 percent especially Vitamin C, folate or potassium are destroyed if foods are cooked for a long time.
The other way is where cooking is beneficial wherein there is a release of anti-oxidants from carrot, spinach, and tomatoes by breaking down the cell wall and easily passing the healthy components from the food to body.
Hence if you are going through the weight loss track, the best thing to do is to cook at home. By cooking your own food, you know what ingredients have been added and how much is the portion size. But we sometimes do make mistakes while preparing home-cooked meals. Hence a slight knowledge of healthy cooking methods to prepare the foods by keeping intact the nutrients, without adding extra calories help in reaching our goal well.
Few Healthy Cooking Methods That Will Help You In Keeping Your Weight Loss Plan
1. Prepare Foods In nonstick Pans
When we prepare food in a pan, we add the extra amount of oil or fat into the food in order to prevent sticking of the food to the pan. This imparts to adding up calories to the food. Using the nonstick pan, allows us to just add a very little amount of oil to just complement the food and cut down the unnecessary fats.
2. Prepare In Smaller Portion Rather Than Bulk
Except if you have guests coming to your house where you need to prepare in bulk, preferably prepare foods in smaller portions and fresh.
3. Using The Kitchen Scale
Using the kitchen scale helps to know the exact measure of the portion size and ingredients. Knowing the portion size of the ingredients by using measuring cups and spoons, helps to cut down the calories and fat. This helps in maintaining the accuracy of food tracking system and helps to know the exact amount of cooked food that will be consumed.
4. Healthy Food Modification
Reduce the salt intake by improving the flavor by using herbs or tamarind or lime juice. Prefer marinade made of low-fat yogurt or milk rather than using canola oil or any other oil. Try using egg whites which have only 16 calories rather than egg yolk that has 54 calories and 5 gm fat. Replace half of the refined flour with whole wheat flour while preparing baked goods. Prepare the white sauce with oats flour that contains fiber and essential vitamins rather than refined flour.
With these tips handy and useful in our everyday life, let us know what cooking methods would be advantageous for us to maintain our nutrients and health intact.
Steaming is the easiest and convenient way of cooking food infused with steam. Steaming can be done in various ways: either in a closed, perforated vessel placed over a vessel of boiling water, wrapped in parchment foil or wrapper, using Chinese bamboo steamers over a wok or in electric steamers. Steaming helps in getting our daily dose of vitamins and minerals properly without noticeable loss. This method improves the antioxidant content of the vegetables by making it available to us. It is the healthier option as no oil or fat needs to be while cooking the food through steaming. Hence the true flavor of food stands out well and not the added fat or oil. By steaming, the food does not get overcooked or burned unlike baking or boiling or frying foods. Foods take lesser time to get cooked by steaming.
Foods such as shellfish, chicken breasts, asparagus, zucchini, or pears taste well if steamed and flavored essentially.
You will always love microwaving as it slashes the time required for cooking foods and helps you consume fewer calories. If planning to cook eggs in a pan, you are not sure about how much amount oil is required to cook the eggs. Though you claim to have used healthy fats, a fat is a fat. About 36 calories are added when 4 gms of fat is added to prepare eggs.
If planning to prepare low cal scrambled eggs, coat the microwave safe bowl with a little amount of cooking spray. Microwave for 2 minutes on high with every 30-second interval of whisking and checking if the eggs are not overcooked. The power of microwave always depends on the wattage per square foot of the oven, hence higher the wattage and smaller the oven, the more powerful the microwave is. You can save time by cooking two dishes simultaneously by stacking them together.
Covering the foods while microwaving helps to retain the moisture and steam thus maintaining the texture and nutrients in foods. Even our conventional crispy potato chips can be prepared by microwave, by thinly slicing the potatoes and spraying the olive oil little by little on the heatproof plate. Place the potato slices on the plate and sprinkle little amount of salt. Microwave the slices on high for 4 to 6 minutes or till the potato becomes crispy and browny. Thus the conventional fried chips can gain a healthy touch by microwaving.
Thus diets can be maintained as healthy diets with use of the microwave. Remember to use microwave-safe glass bowl, ceramics or plastic bowl containers and avoid metal containers or plastic deli containers in the microwave.
3. Pressure Cooking
Pressure cooking has been used for the long time where special vessels are designed for this purpose. If this method is used judiciously, it has been the best method to preserve flavor, color and of course nutrients. Foods cooked in the pressure cooker requires less time and water, thus the vitamins and minerals are safe. The cooker seals the steam formed from the liquid which enhances the flavor.
Thus no extra addition of oil or fat is needed and even very minimum seasoning is required to flavor the foods. Thus soups and stews that would take time if boiled on simmer in a pan will take only 15 minutes if prepared on the pressure cooker, and vegetables also get ready in a jiffy if pressure cooked. Potatoes, soups, stews, beans, beef or chicken are cooked well by pressure cooker.
However, pressure cooking is best if carried out safely. Time the pressure cooking so that the food doesn’t get overcooked. The food needs to be filled not more than two third level, especially for foods like beans and rice that expand, fill the food only halfway to allow the buildup of steam and pressure. Be careful while opening the lid like not putting your face over the pot due to the heat of the steam.
Foods cooked in the pressure cooker cooks faster and require less amount of liquid. When the food is ready in lesser cooking time, they are less likely to lose flavor or taste as well as vitamins and minerals that normally do get evaporated if cooked in large quantities of water for longer period of time.
Broiling has been one of the simplest ways of cooking, where the food is exposed to direct heat usually in electric or gas stove and cooked in the bottom part of the drawer of the oven. The source of heat for broiling is from above and the heat is consistently the same throughout. Depending on how you need to cook the food the food needs to be brought closer or farther away from the heat source. Broiling is the dry heat of cooking is well cooked if marinated with lemon juice, fresh basil, a tsp. of olive oil, few minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Foods like salmon, bell peppers, chicken, and onion are best tasted with broiling.
Exposing the food to direct heat requires little or no oil thus giving consideration to the internal flavor of the food. Thus you can enjoy the tender cuts of meat or nutrient-rich vegetables using whole spices and herbs without extra oil while sticking to the weight loss diet. Broiler even reduces the saturated fat from the red meat which is beneficial for arteries. Once the cooking is done, remove the broiler pan and discard the fat drips.
Blanching involves plunging the food in hot, boiling water for a very short duration of time and then dipping the food in the cold and chilled water in order to stop the cooking process. Blanching is applied for foods that need to be partially or just completely cooked. Blanched vegetable salad or blanched almonds have been the common recipes done by blanching. Blanching is sometimes a supporting technique for cooking vegetables that require little cooking time, especially if you want to stir-fry the vegetables the cooking will be done within few minutes. Blanching has been beneficial for foods that need to be frozen as this process helps to neutralize the bacteria and also enhances the color and flavor of food. Blanched foods are healthy as it retains the nutrients of the food due to its short cooking time. But depending on only blanching may not be preferable sometimes as blanching needs to be combined with other cooking techniques.
Thus just the selection of food may not be the only solution for weight tracking. How are the foods prepared, are the nutrients being retained, do you really need to add extra calories etc., do matter in the regime. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef to know how can the food be prepared, a slight knowledge of the technique to prepare food along with ways of improving the flavor and texture of food will always make a difference into the healthy eating pattern. Hence enjoy cooking, enjoy eating but do be mindful of how you go about with preparing food which will always make a difference.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooking Methods
1. I have heard of roasting foods also one of the good techniques of preparing foods. How good is it?
Roasting foods have been the common method of cooking. People do prefer roasted foods for its unique flavor and taste. By roasting meat, the oil in the meat gets drained away cutting down the calories. It is easy to control the heat and the time required for roasting but you need to have constant supervision while roasting. And roasting with the animal skin on charcoal, in the long run, can be detrimental to health.
2. I always have a liking for fried foods with the intention that fried foods are always palatable. I know it’s not good for to have fried foods extensively. Is there any way to reduce the intake of these types of foods?
Fried foods can add on to the calories. Yes, it is palatable to have fried foods but there are various ways of maintaining the palatability of the food without adding extra oil or fat. For biryanis, instead of frying the vegetables if these vegetables are pressure cooked and sautéed in little oil, the taste will not change. Even when we prepare vadas, it can be baked on the hot plate that is lightly greased for about 20 minutes. Patties, cutlets or even tikkas and chips can be baked. Whenever you feel the urge of having fried foods, have a fruit or a raw vegetable first and then put your hands on these fried foods, the quantity that you will eat will reduce.