I don’t want to alarm you or, certainly not, insult you either. But, you may be doing it all wrong! It’s great you are in the kitchen preparing healthy meals for you and your family, but you may be taking some incorrect measures or incorporating methods of cooking that nullifies all your good efforts.
Yes, it’s true. The preparation and cooking methods you choose may alter its nutritional content. You may be reducing the antioxidants, fiber and even switching around the make-up of all those good-for-you foods! So, let’s find out how to fix all that!
COOK YOUR FOODS A BETTER WAY
Many of the following foods could be classified into superpower status in regards to promoting good health, but there are a few tricks and considerations when cooking them to ensure you are getting every last drop of their powers. Here it goes:
1. Let it rest. Although many do chew raw garlic for its abundant health properties (see here), that is going a bit far for my taste buds. To get the biggest health boost from garlic when cooking, mince it, slice it or press it, and then let it rest for 10 minutes. This allows the allicin, the main healing ingredient in garlic, to formulate. If you rush it by mincing it and throwing it in the hot pot right away, you expose the garlic to heat and destroy all the magic. Remember 10 little minutes.
2. Slice the right bulb. Sweet onions are sweet all the way around and are a healthy choice, but they don’t carry quite the health punch as the more robust red and yellow ones (see here). Keep the sweet to raw preparations like salads, sandwiches, etc. and make sure you peel the pungent onion varieties to get those stews and soups started or to make anything cooked. Remember: Stronger onions means stronger powers.
3. No longer than 5. To retain the most vitamins for those nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, don’t cook them very long, studies show. Keep these vegetables in uniform, smaller pieces and steam them for 5 minutes and add spices for flavor. Yes, steamed vegetables can be a snoozer, but adding your favorite spices, fresh herbs and oils to season them, will both enhance the flavor and their cancer-fighting nutrients. Here are some great examples of just how to do that.
Try a pan saute as a quick steam technique as well using a bit of water and no oil. It works great for snap peas, greens and other quick-cooking vegetables (low calorie too). If you choose to stir-fry or roast, keep the cooking time short as well. Remember Shorter cooking, longer life.
4. Create the right smoke. Don’t burn your dish by choosing a cooking oil with the correct smoke-point for the temperature you are using. Check out my post on oil choices, smoke points and which oils are best to use for certain types of cooking here. Oils that contain high smoke points are healthier to cook with and do not ruin your dish by allowing it to burn.
So, leave your expensive extra virgin olive oil (with a lower smoke point) for raw salads and non-cooked foods where you can really appreciate the flavor of it, too, and choose an avocado oil (with a high smoke point) for a more intense heat cooking method like a stir-fry. Remember hot pan, right oil.
5. Keepin’ the skin. Many of the nutrients in vegetables and fruits like apples, potatoes, and carrots are found in or just under the skin. When we remove the peel, we strip that away. Look here for great details on that.
If possible, try and scrub them clean and cook leaving the skin on. If you must peel them, try to just take a thin layer. Mashed potatoes that I steam using the Yukon Gold variety work great for me with the peels left on (less work, too!) Remember outer layers, inner goodness.
Tell us, do you have a favorite tip to throw in when it comes to getting the most out of your healthy cooking? Please share!
- Make sure you are seasoning your dishes with the healthiest of salts. Try sprinkling this one on your creations in the kitchen for better mineral levels and more.