You don’t need to be a chef to cook healthier food. You can try some alternative and fun cooking methods to lock in nutrients and flavour. Here are some of the simplest you can try today.
Steam to Keep in Nutrients
If you hate vegetables, it’s probably because your mum didn’t cook them properly. For health reasons, food was often overcooked back in the day. But it doesn’t have to be that way today. Boiling vegetables al-dente is a great way to cook them. But if you are interested in nutrition (see ASFA courses here), then you should know that steaming is far better because it locks in nutrients more than boiling. And some vegetables can lose up to 50% of nutrients by boiling.
The French make everything sound fancy. But all this means is “in parchment” or paper, really. However, it’s a great way to cook specific ingredients and translates really well for fish because it gently steams the food. You can use this technique in your oven with wine and vegetables for traditional French dishes. However, you can also apply the same technique using things like banana leaves to capture the flavours of authentic Caribbean and pan-Asian dishes.
Healthier Food with Minimal Oil
Cooking oil is essential to help transfer heat and flavour to your ingredients. However, some aren’t exactly good for you and others detract from the nutrition. But some devices reduce oil:
- Air fryers can cook almost anything with just a couple of drops of cooking oil.
- Pressure cookers can reduce the loss of vitamins and proteins lost with high heat.
- Grilling actively drains fat from food as you cook it, reducing the overall fat content.
Air fryers are particularly useful right now because they use more than 50% less energy than your oven and cook almost anything. Yet pressure cookers maintain most nutrients in a dish.
Poaching Instead of Frying
You’ve probably had poached eggs a few times. And it’s almost guaranteed that you will enjoy them. This is because poaching gently cooks an ingredient while keeping flavour and nutrients. It’s also much healthier than using fats and oils such as butter. So it’s great for a healthier Full English. But you can also poach pretty much anything, such as chicken breast, fish fillets and even duck. Poaching is healthier because it’s liquid rather than fat that transfers the heat.
The Microwave Oven
Some people won’t go anywhere near a microwave, believing they are unsafe. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Microwaves don’t give off radiation, so let’s get that out of the way. They work by stimulating water particles to cause friction, generating heat. However, microwaves are known to destroy vitamins and minerals, but only through prolonged exposure. The short cooking times you can get with a microwave maintains vitamin levels.
You can cook healthier food by using different methods. For example, steaming is better than boiling for keeping in nutrients. While devices like air fryers require minimal fats, and the microwave can help keep vitamins locked in when cooking for shorter times.