Resource Heart Health

Cooking up a storm – the healthy way

Do you also think that healthy cooking methods only include boiling, blanching and steaming? Well, these are indeed healthy options, but it’s not where the list ends. Oven or pot-roasting, baking, stir-frying and grilling can result in wonderful meals, and of course we all love to braai. Just remember to apply these methods in the best way possible, to keep serving healthy family meals.

Yes, cooking turns raw food into cooked food, but by combining the right ingredient with the best choice of cooking method, you’ll have an excellent start to a tasty meal. The main aim is to add lots of flavour with the cooking method and to avoid using a lot of oil, salt and artificial or sugary seasonings. Rather enhance the natural sweetness and flavour of an ingredient with the best cooking method. Pan-fried onions or roasted butternut is delicious enough and needs little more to make it flavourful.

A practical tip to avoid using too much oil: rather cook over medium and lower temperatures in a pot or pan. Over high temperatures food tends to stick to the pan and burn easily. More oil is often added to prevent this, however it may result in a less than healthy meal. Another risk with high temperatures, is overcooked, dry and tasteless food.

Oven-roasting, grilling or baking food often requires less oil. Ingredients like chicken and meat contain enough natural fat and moisture for the cooking process. If you are concerned that the ingredients will dry out, cover with a lid or foil and add some moisture to the oven dish. Most recipes will specify the amount. Firmer veggies like potatoes, butternut and sweet potatoes are ideal to roast and even more delicate options like cauliflower, mushrooms or tomatoes are so flavourful when roasted with a dash oil, lemon juice and some fresh herbs or spices – watch the roasting time of these.

Stir-frying is a quick and easy cooking method and is ideal for fish, chicken and tender cuts of meat. Most vegetables, especially quick-cooking or tender veggies can be stir-fried, like mushrooms, peppers, onions, green beans, broccoli and more. Stir-fry in batches to prevent the first ingredients from being too soft by the time that everything is cooked.

Boil vegetables, rice and other starches. And when a stew or soup is made, boiling over a low heat (called simmering), is the best way to develop the flavours.

Pot-roasting is a wonderful combination of first frying ingredients, like onions and carrots, to add flavour and then gently simmering it together with the other veggies or meat in a liquid.

Cooking methods can also be combined, like for a stew.

Braaiing is also considered a healthy way to prepare food, as long as it doesn’t burn.

Visit www.cookingfromtheheart.co.za to find a wonderful range of recipes for the whole family. All these recipes use a good choice of healthy, yet delicious cooking methods for the specific ingredients. Follow the Facebook-page www.facebook.com/CookingFromTheHeartSA for weekly inspiration on cooking methods, recipes and kitchen tips.

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