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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Stock

Healthy ways to cook your food

Cooking vegetables in pan on stove

People can get caught up on what foods they should or shouldn’t eat to maintain a healthy diet, and sometimes end up eating food they don’t enjoy. One of my top rules for nutrition is ‘if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it’!  There is no food out there so healthy that you need to choke it down. 


A lot of my clients don’t need to make huge changes to the foods they eat to meet their health goals, simply making small changes to how they cook their food goes a long way!


Also, a lot of people, when making changes to eat healthier, end up eating bland foods (steamed broccoli anyone?) all day every day. When they reach their breaking point, they fall right off the wagon and end up back where they started. Healthy eating can still taste great, and what a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle over months and years! 


Let’s go through each food group and look at how we can cook these foods in a healthier way, while still including flavour!


Meat

Vegetables


 

Healthy cooking - meat


There are a few quick things that can be done to make meat a healthy option.


Fat – cut off the visible fat prior to cooking. Take the time to trim your meat, cut off the large strip of fat on your pork chop, and trim the chicken breast. 


Chicken skin – cooking a chicken breast with the skin on can keep lots of moisture and flavour in the meat.  The skin is where a lot of the cholesterol is, so if you cook with it on, remove the skin before serving. 


Cooking methods – I encourage people to cook their meat in a way that doesn’t add fat.  For example, grilling is great because the fat drips off the meat as it cooks.  Roasting meat in the oven is also great, use a rack to lift it off the bottom, or use vegetables (carrots, onions and celery) to make a rack that will add lots of flavour to the gravy.  If you’re cooking meat in a pan, you’ll likely need to add some oil so it doesn’t stick.  Pay attention to how much you’re putting in, just enough to prevent sticking is best.  Don’t deep fry your meat (unless that’s the plan and it’s only once and awhile as a treat!).


Healthy cooking - vegetables


My rules for vegetables are easy – cook them how you like, or don’t cook them at all. 


We can get into the weeds about boiling vs steaming, but I just can’t get myself worked up about it.  Vegetables are so good for you that you need to eat them frequently and in large amounts, so you need to get creative. However you choose to cook your vegetables (or not), it’s okay to jazz them up a bit, but things can get out of hand pretty quickly if you’re not careful. 


For salad, add dressing, but don’t drown your salad in it.  Add enough that it covers everything, but there shouldn’t be a pool of dressing left over. For those really thick creamy dressing (so yummy!), it can take a lot to coat everything.  Consider watering it down a little.  To do this, spoon some dressing into a bowl, then use milk or water to thin it down a bit so it’ll coat your salad better, then dress the salad.  Same taste, less used!


For cooked vegetables, feel free to add flavour!  Some butter or olive oil is nice, but the same principle as salad dressing applies – don’t overdo it.  Experiment with flavours, sesame seeds are great on green beans, and sliced almonds go great with broccoli.  Love a cheese sauce with your cauliflower?  Consider grating a little cheddar or parmesan over top – same flavour with fewer calories!  Salad dressings are also tasty on hot, cooked veg, and using herbs or herb blends can jazz up frozen veg mixes. 


Healthy cooking - starch


Starch seems to go in two extremes, it’s either plain or deep-fried.  Deep fried foods should be an occasional treat (i.e. French fries), but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck with a diet of plain quinoa.  If you’re cooking a grain in water, consider adding flavour to the pot!  Stock cubes, herbs or citrus can easily add a bunch of flavour.

You can also reach for those herbs once the starch is cooked – adding a bit of oil and some fresh or dried herbs can add a nice flavour to complement your protein choice. 

Think about sauces as well – having a nice herby dressing on roasted root vegetables can add a lot of flavour with very little calories.  Get creative!

 

 

Healthy cooking doesn't need to be boring!  When working towards consistency with healthy eating, you need to want to eat those foods, so adding flavour here and there will go a long way. Contact me to talk more about how you can add flavour into your healthy eating plan.

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