When I hear from people they don't know how to cook healthy, I cringe. It really isn't that they don't know how, they are simply used to their current cooking routine. Let's face it, until recently, there hasn't been a focus on cooking healthy meals. Cooking has been all about creating foods that are really high in fat, sugar and salt. I think food TV shows helped promote this type of cooking with decadent episodes showing how to cook recipes with high-fat products and mostly meat-based meals.
Cooking healthy is not that hard. It simply requires a desire to do something differently and to learn something new. The actual methods of cooking remain the same: saute, stir-fry, boil, steam, bake, roast and grilling, all of these methods can produce healthy foods. The key is in the ingredients selected.
To cook healthy, first start with unprocessed foods. That means nothing that can be microwaved and served in 5 minutes. Microwaving foods actually breaks down amino acids in foods and makes them harder to digest. This causes havoc on our digestive system. So if you have products in your pantry or freezer that are ready in 5 minutes, eat them and do not buy them ever again! Cooking healthy requires using unprocessed foods. While I condone not eating processed foods, I also recognize we have a food waste problem in the US. When you are making a lifestyle switch, it is OK to eat the food you have in the pantry. Unless you are willing to donate it to a local food bank and simply start over. Most people do not have to take such severe action.
Now you may be thinking, I don't have time to use products that aren't ready in 5 minutes. I agree that time can be a constraint, especially during the workweek. I have a really long commute which means in order to eat healthy during the week, I have to plan meals on the weekend and meal prep to have a healthy meals ready for breakfast. lunch and dinner. So one option to cook healthy is to decide you are going to meal-prep.
Meal-prep consists of cooking meals that are easily reheated, chopping vegetables ahead of time or putting together a dish that does not contain dairy, such as vegetarian stuffed peppers, that simply needs to cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Another way to have a healthy meal for dinner is to ask for help. If your spouse, significant other, roommate or kids are home before you, ask them to make a side-dish or to cut up vegetables or cook a meal during the week. Thinking they can't?That might be true, you may have to give them some instructions but that is easier than you doing it all. They may surprise you. They may actually like helping in the kitchen.
A second option to cooking healthy is to rely on organic frozen vegetables. I always have frozen broccoli, spinach and cauliflower in the freezer. Stir-fry's are a quick and easy dinner to get on the table fast. Frozen veggies are already chopped and lend themselves well to quick meals like stir-fry's or spaghetti with mixed vegetables. They are also really easy to cook as a side-dish when making pork chops or chicken breasts for dinner.
Another tip for healthy cooking, look for casserole recipes. There is nothing better than making a casserole over the weekend and just reheating it for a healthy dinner. You can make a vegetarian casserole, serve it with a salad and dinner is done. Eating plant-based once a week can improve your health. You'll notice after you've been doing it for awhile, that you have more energy and generally feel good when meat is less of an emphasis in weeknight dinners. Casseroles are a great way to introduce plant-based eating to your family. They are usually so filling, meat-eaters won't miss the meat! A few easy recipes are below:
Healthy Mexican Casserole with Roasted Corn and Peppers from Pinch of Yum.
Cheesy Vegetarian Brown Rice Casserole from Kalyn's Kitchen.
Low-Carb leftover Turkey Casserole from Simply So Healthy.
Teriyaki Chicken Casserole from Life in the Lofthouse.
Finally, to cook healthy learn a little bit about cooking oils and what the best application for specific oils. How you use oils when cooking can greatly affect your health. One example is getting olive oil to smoke. While this is a popular method it actually turns the oil into a trans-fat, which is really bad for your body. Oils have a specific range of heat that they are used for. When you use them at heat higher than they can stand, the oil's once healthy properties are now turned into trans-fats. Below is a chart to help you understand what the heat tolerance is for oils.
So cooking healthy is not a big mystery or anything you need to do deep research on. Simply apply some of the recommendations I listed above into your routine and pretty soon. cooking healthy will just be something you do.
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