Our resolution is to help you cook healthier without sacrificing flavor.
For many of us, a significant resolution is to pick up healthier habits in the New Year. You may tell yourself you’re going to exercise more, eat healthier and make overall wiser choices to enhance your well-being. Although we may not be the ones to compel you to follow a workout routine, we do know that when it comes to eating healthier, you don’t have to skimp out on taste. In many cases it’s assumed that eating healthier means cooking foods that are tasteless and lackluster. Here at PS, we want you to reach your health goals in the New Year without that dreaded feeling of having to cook flavorless meals. Here we offer suggestions, techniques and seasonings for the most flavorful healthy cooking.
Leaner Options For Cooking:
- Purchase lean cuts of meat. Meats labeled "loin' or "round" tend to have the least fat content.
- With poultry, try sticking to light meat portions rather than darker parts such as legs and thighs. Dark meat is the fattier parts of the bird. Also, be sure to remove any skin.
- For egg recipes, use egg whites instead of egg yolks. Two egg whites is equivalent to one egg yolk.
- Choose low-fat variations of dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
- Try using low calorie dressing for salads. You can find endless recipes online for making healthy dressings right at home. Here are some recipes from EatingWell.com.
- Use a healthier type of oil when pan cooking or baking such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or canola oil.
Healthful Snacking Ideas:
- The most obvious healthy snack is serving fresh fruit and vegetables of varying colors. To make it a little less "blah", go ahead and partner them with a deliciously healthy dip.
- When making dips replace mayonnaise and high fat ingredients with light sour cream or cream cheese, or try using plain Greek yogurt. Hummus and guacamole are also healthier dip options. Find recipes online for making dips with healthful ingredients, like these tasty dip recipes that are under 100 calories from MyRecipes.com.
- If veggies aren't your thing, other options include low-fat pretzels, lightly seasoned popcorn popped in coconut oil. (Microwavable butter flavored versions are NOT a healthy option).
- Try a handful of low salt or all-natural mixed nuts. The fat from nuts is beneficial as long as you don't overdue it. Some of the most wholesome nut options are walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans and Brazil nuts. You can also munch on seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- Wholegrain snacks are great as well, whether it's a bowl of wholegrain cereal with low-fat milk or crackers (Triscuits for example) with nut butter (such as almond butter). Wholegrain crackers with a low-fat cheese or low calorie cheese spread is also a suitable option if eaten in moderation. All natural, wholesome granola bars are okay if your craving something sweet.
- Low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese make a filling protein boost snack option.
Beneficial Cooking Methods & Techniques:
Baking - Baking foods often doesn't require adding fats as long as you use a non-stick spray or pan. This is probably one of the easiest cooking methods.
Braising - When braising, you first sear the ingredients in a pan on your stove-top and then cook it in a small amount of liquid (water or broth), while keeping the food partially covered. The liquid not only provides moisture and flavor to the food, but can also be used for sauces and gravy.
Broiling - To broil foods, place on a broiler rack below your ovens heating element (which gets extremely hot, up to 500 degrees). Typically the foods should be about 6" away from the heat source. Broiler racks allow any fat from foods to drip down and away from food and are easy to purchase if you do not already own one. *Be sure to double check the broiler option on your oven before attempting. This method requires that you keep an eye on your food often so that it does not burn.
Grilling - Many of us love the smoky, charred taste of foods cooked on the grill and it is a beneficial way to cook foods bursting with flavor. Regardless of if you use a gas or charcoal grill, this method offers its own flavorful addition to your foods even without seasoning.
Poaching - Poaching is simply the technique of simmering ingredients in water or a flavorful liquid until they are thoroughly cooked and tender.
Good-For-You Seasoning & Flavoring Ideas:
Condiments - Yes, you're reading that right! Although many condiments are loaded with sugars, salt and fats, there are some that are better for you. Try a delicious pesto, hearty guacamole or hummus; or even a tangy mustard when cooking. When purchasing condiments, dressings and similar items, be sure to check the label! Avoid items with unhealthy ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, partially hydrogenated oil, artificial colors and high volumes of salt.
Low Sodium Broth & Stock - The only difference between these two is that broth is made from the liquid meat is cooked in and stock uses bones to flavor liquid. Both are very beneficial to contributing flavor to many foods. Vegetables, rice and pastas absorb the liquid for a taste elevation. They're also a great option for homemade soups and sauces. Be sure to use low sodium varieties and avoid replacing the flavor with bouillon. Bouillon may add the flavor you are trying to reach, but they are packed with sodium.Herbs & Spices - There are infinite possibilities when it comes to using herbs and spices in cooking. With herbs, you have a choice between fresh and dried versions. Dried herbs are best for long storage if you do not intend to use them often. If you are a cooking fanatic, then fresh herbs work great for "here and now" recipes where you intend to use them daily. You can also pot your own fresh herbs indoors to have all year round. Spices are wonderful for adding bold flavors to your meals without salt or preservatives.
Living a healthier lifestyle is a commitment, but when it comes to cooking, don't think that means you have to throw flavor out the window. We've given you some helpful suggestions that we hope will contribute to your resolution for a healthier way of life in 2016. It's a new year, so make it a new you. Here's to your health!