Whilst choosing the right foods is an important factor of leading a healthy lifestyle, how you cook those foods is just as important. For example, you could buy some healthy fresh fish, to only deep fry it in a heart clogging mix of batter and oil. Understanding how you cook your food impacts its health value, and what you can do in the kitchen to keep those fresh ingredients as healthy as possible, will go a long way to help you win the fight for fitness.
The first thing you need to do is stop taking recipes as gospel. Whilst not always applicable to the more adventurous in the kitchen, following a recipe down to the fine print can often sacrifice the integrity of your food for the sake of simple convenience, or even lack of knowledge. Most recipes hold a lot of unnecessary calories, so allowing for a bit of artistic license with your food can really help.
Lose the Chicken Skin
Yes the skin is extremely tasty, but it also adds around 50 extra calories per piece - as well as being laden with heart damaging saturated fats. You can keep the skin on for cooking, this will help the meat stay moist, but once its cooked cut it off – your heart will thank you.
Cut Down on Cream
Switching full fat cream out for fat free can ensure your sauces still have that creamy taste and texture, without laying on all the unhealthy fats.
Use Vegetable Puree
Another way to cut down on cream in your cooking without losing texture is to add in vegetable purees instead. Not only will this remove excess fats and calories, it will also add extra nutrition and fibre!
Look for oil alternatives
Not everything has to be drenched in oil when you fry it. Low-sodium vegetable broth makes for a great replacement, plus it helps add a little moisture to your dishes without compromising on flavour – and there’s the fact it will also reduce overall calories of the dish.
Go for Strength When It Comes to Cheese
Cheese is a great addition to cooking, and can add an intense flavour to your dishes. However, as nice as it is, it’s also bad for you in large amounts; and when we cook we tend to add in lots of it – especially where mild cheeses are involved. To counter this, go for a stronger flavour of the same cheese – upgrade your mild cheddar to extra mature. This will ensure you can get that same cheesy flavour for much less cheese.
Add a Bit of Zest to Your Vegetables
Instead of lathering you vegetables in butter and your salads in dressing, try squeezing a bit of fresh lemon or lime juice onto them – it will zing up the flavour at a fraction of the calories and fats.
Try Using a bit of Greek Yogurt
Natural Greek yogurt can make for an excellent tangy alternative to sour cream. Try it with your cooking, you will hardly tell the difference!
Use More Vegetables
Go back a few generations and you will find the common meal was mainly vegetable based with a small bit of meat. As we have become more affluent, and society has become more convenient, there has been a shift in this proportion to often favour meats and dairies. Try shifting the ratio back in favour of vegetables – we are not saying get rid of meat completely, but make it the minority. You will find that most of the healthiest cultures in the world live off a vegetable dominant diet.
Bulk your meat with grains and vegetables
If you are struggling to get the meat/vegetable ratio under control, then maybe try bulking the actual meat. This works great for things like homemade burgers, or other dishes where minced meats are involved. Use grains and vegetables like mushrooms to bulk up the portions, without compromising on health. - It makes meaty dishes just as satisfying.
Remove the Yoke of the Problem
The white of an egg has 16 calories on average, and 0g of far. The yolk on the other hand has 54 calories and 5 grams of fat. If you are cooking with eggs, try using the whites of two eggs in place of one whole egg. It should maintain the same integrity without the fat and calories.
These are just a few tips to get you on track to a healthier way of cooking. Don’t be afraid to keep your eye out for potentially unnecessary fats and calories, and replace them. Experiment, you could end up pleasantly surprised!