So you want to cook lighter meals? You’re in luck because that’s my specialty. You can cook healthier by making a few simple changes and experimenting with different flavors. Most people underestimate the importance of eating. They do it mindlessly. They don’t care about where their food comes from or what’s in it. You’re different. And I know you’re different because you made it to this page. So scroll down to see my top healthy cooking tips which you should know, a description of the best healthy cooking methods, and my recommendations for the healthiest dishes you can cook for a variety of cuisines.
16 Easy Healthy Cooking Tips You Must Know
- Use nonstick cookware to sauté or sear foods. This will help minimize the fat you use from oil and butter. Cooking sprays are also a good substitute for oil and butter. Or my personal favorite: filling a spray bottle with olive oil and making your own cooking spray.
- Use healthy cooking methods. Grill, broil, poach, roast, or stir-fry your foods instead of frying them (see below for more healthy cooking methods).
- Trim excess fat and skin from beef, pork, and poultry. Use processed, cured, and smoked meats sparingly.
- Substitute ground chicken and turkey and bison for ground beef.
- Choose grass-fed ground sirloin when you do eat ground beef. Look for 95% or 96% lean on the package whenever possible.
- Coat meat with egg whites then whole wheat bread crumbs and bake it in the oven as a healthy alternative to frying.
- Cook fish in parchment paper or foil to seal in flavor and juices.
- Sauté veggies in a small amount of low sodium broth or water instead of butter or oil.
- Substitute lower fat dairy products, such as reduced-fat cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt, for their higher fat counterparts.
- Use fat free yogurt (I prefer Greek style) in place of mayonnaise or sour cream
- Substitute applesauce or yogurt instead of oil in recipes.
- To enhance a food’s flavor without adding salt or fat, use onions, fresh herbs, spices, flavored vinegars, fresh peppers, garlic or garlic powder, ginger, lemons, limes, sodium-free bouillon, or even small amounts of reduced-sodium soy sauce.
- Instead of eating potato chips, make kale chips (chop up some kale, add olive oil and salt, and roast for 15-20 minutes at 300 degree Fahrenheit).
- Rinse canned foods, such as tuna and vegetables, before using to wash away some of the excess sodium.
- Replace sugar in baked goods with Truvia, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, or fruit to enhance sweetness.
- When cooking with oils, use small amounts of heart healthy oils such as olive oil. It contains “good fats” and is nutritionally superior to other vegetable oils.
Healthy Cooking Methods and Tips
Baking is using an oven to cook food, usually at lower temperatures.
Boiling is cooking foods in hot water and is best for cooking whole wheat pasta and rice. Avoid boiling vegetables if possible because this method depletes some of the nutritional value.
Braising involves browning the food on the stove and then cooking it at a very low temperature in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan. This is a great method if you’re cooking tough cuts of meat that you want to turn tender. Just be sure not to use high-sodium liquids
Broiling is cooking food at a high temperature in the oven close to the direct heat source (3-6 inches). It’s a great way to cook foods fast and efficiently indoors, plus by using a broiling pan some of the excess fat drips off of the meat.
Grilling is similar to broiling except the food is (obviously) cooked on a grill. Many people prefer the taste of grilled meat and you can either cook at high temperatures or lower temperatures if you remove the direct heat source (i.e., placing the meat in the center, turning the outer two burners on and the center one-off).
Microwave cooking is a quick and efficient way to cook food. Generally, it shouldn’t be used to cook meats unless reheating but it’s good for cooking vegetables quickly.
Poaching involves simmering foods in liquid until it’s cooked through.
Roasting is similar to baking in that you cook the food in the oven but roasting involves higher temperatures.
Sautéing is cooking food in a pan with a small amount of liquid. This is a great technique to use for vegetables because it really brings out the flavor. Instead of using butter, try a small amount of olive oil or sodium-free broths.
Steaming involves cooking food, usually on a stovetop, with a steamer so that the steam actually cooks the food. It’s one of the healthiest and delicious ways to cook vegetables and fish because steamed food retains more nutrients than most healthy cooking methods
Stir-frying is cooking food in a large pan or wok on the stove over high heat, stirring frequently. Be careful when using sweet sauces because the high temperatures may cause your sauce to burn. Again, stay away from sauces with high sodium content though.
Now you know the healthy cooking tips, I am sure your next meal will be a smashing success.
Healthiest Dishes to Cook by Type of Cuisine
Asian: Shrimp stir-fry
Amid the battered, breaded, and fried, this shrimp and vegetable combo shines. Avoid the sugar- and salt-filled sauce. All you need is some shrimp, a bag of frozen veggies, a little lemon or lime juice, and some salt. Serve with a small side of brown rice.
Indian: Chicken tikka
Unlike many Indian dishes prepared with butter, coconut milk, or cream, this kebab is seasoned with spices and cooked in a clay oven. Since you probably don’t have a clay oven at home, a normal oven will suffice. Season 1-inch chunks of chicken breast with any curry seasonings (or a little cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger, and turmeric). Place chicken on kabobs and grill for 5-7 minutes/side. Enjoy with raita, a condiment made with yogurt and cucumbers, and a side of grilled vegetables.
Italian: Pasta marinara
Homemade tomato sauce is loaded with the powerful antioxidant lycopene, and it has a lot fewer calories than cream-based Alfredo sauce. Opt for whole-wheat pasta instead of the white, enriched variety. Skip the bread and Caesar salad and make yourself a fresh House salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and vinaigrette dressing (2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar) instead.
Middle Eastern: Chicken shish kebab
Season chunks of chicken with Zatar, a seasoning that combines lemony sumac with sesame seeds and thyme. Accompany this satisfying skewer of grilled poultry and veggies with a Fattoush salad (mix lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers with 2 parts lemon juice to 1 part olive oil and add a bit of sumac) or cup of Lentil soup. Some hummus and veggies are a good side option too.
Seafood: Grilled fish with lemon
Baked or broiled is fine, too. Top your fish with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook until done. It’s that simple.
Southwestern: Chicken fajitas
Minus the cheese, sour cream, and refined flour tortillas, chicken fajitas are a fairly healthy dish. Serve with whole wheat tortillas and a side of black beans.
American: Flank steak
It’s one of the leanest cuts of beef you can eat. Rub your steak with some salt, pepper, paprika, and chives. Grill for 2-3 minutes/side for medium-rare. Accompany your steak with a steamed sweet potato, steamed broccoli, or sautéed spinach.
It is really important to know the healthy cooking tips to bring delicious and nutritious dishes for you and your family. Healthy cooking will help you to become healthy and prevent health-related issues especially overweight, obesity, and heart-related diseases.