Some tips of Healthy and cooking

Eating healthy food doesn't mean giving up your favorite foods and switching to salads. Healthy cooking is easy. In many cases, your favorite's recipes can be modified so they offer a healthier alternative.

Non-stick cookware can be used to reduce the need for cooking oil. To keep valuable nutrients, microwave or steam your vegetables instead of boiling them. Keep fats to a minimum it's a good idea to minimise 'hidden fats' by choosing lean meats and reduced fat dairy products.

Processed foods can also have lots of hidden fats. Dietary fats are best when they come from the unrefined natural fats found in nuts, seeds, fish, soy, olives and avocado because this fat is accompanied by other good nutrients. If you add fats when cooking, keep them to a minimum and use monounsaturated oils. A little added oil can be a good thing. If you add a little oil to vegetable and legume dishes, it will help your body absorb fat soluble vitamins and antioxidant phytochemicals.

At the shop Low fat cooking begins when you are shopping Choose the low fat version of a food if it exists - for example milk, cheese, yoghurt, salad dressings and gravies. Choose leaner meat cuts. If unsure, look for the Heart Foundation tick of approval. Choose skinless chicken breasts. General suggestions General suggestions on healthy cooking methods include Steam, bake, grill, braise, boil or microwave your foods.

Modify or eliminate recipes that include butter or ask you to deep fry or saute in animal fat. Avoid using oils and butter as lubricants - use non-stick cookware instead. Don't add salt to food as it is cooking. Remove chicken skin, which is high in fat. However, to retain the moisture in the chicken meat, remove the skin at the end of cooking.

Eat more fresh vegetables and legumes. Eat more fish, which is high in protein, low in fats and loaded with omega 3 fatty acids. Low fat cooking Suggestions include If you need to use oil, try cooking sprays or apply oil with a pastry brush.

Cook in liquids (such as stock, wine, lemon juice, fruit juice, vinegar or water) instead of oil. When a recipe calls for cream as a thickener, use low fat yoghurt, low fat soymilk, evaporated skim milk or cornstarch. When browning vegetables, put them in a hot pan then spray with oil, rather than adding the oil first to the pan. This reduces the amount of oil that vegetables (such as mushrooms) can absorb during cooking.

An alternative to browning vegetables by pan-frying is to cook them first in the microwave, then crisp them under the griller for a minute or two. When serving meat and fish, use pesto, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour creams, butter and creamy sauces. Retaining the nutrients Water soluble vitamins are delicate and easily destroyed during preparation and cooking.

Suggestions include Scrub vegetables rather than peel them, as many nutrients are found close to the skin. Microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling them. If you like to boil vegetables, keep the vitamin-rich water to use as a stock and do not overboil them. Include more stir-fry recipes in your diet.

Stir-fried vegetables are cooked quickly to retain their crunch (and associated nutrients). Cutting out salt Salt is a traditional flavour enhancer, but research suggests that a high salt diet could contribute to a range of disorders including high blood pressure. Suggestions include Don't automatically salt your food - taste it first.

Add a splash of olive oil or lemon juice close to the end of cooking time or to cooked vegetables - it can enhance flavours in the same way as salt. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled vegetables tend to be packaged with salt. Limit your consumption of salty processed meats, such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, frankfurters and chicken loaf. Choose reduced salt bread and breakfast cereals.

Breads and cereals are a major source of salt in the diet. Iodised salt is best. A major dietary source of iodine is plant foods however, there is emerging evidence that Australian soil may be low in iodine and this results in plants that are low in iodine. If you eat fish regularly (at least once a week), the need for iodised salt is reduced. Avoid salt-laden processed foods, such as flavoured instant pasta, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, chips and salted nuts. Margarine and butter contain a lot of salt but 'no added salt' varieties are available.

Most cheeses are very high in salt so limit your intake or choose lower salt varieties. Reduce your use of soy sauce, tomato sauce and processed sauces and condiments (for example mayonnaise and salad dressings) because they contain high levels of salt. Use herbs, spices, and vinegar or lemon juice to add extra zing to your recipe and reduce the need for salt. Herbs Culinary herbs are leafy plants that add flavor and color to all types of meals. In many cases, they can replace the flavour of salt and oil. Remember Herbs are delicately flavored, so add them to your cooking in the last few minutes.

Dried herbs are more strongly flavored than fresh. As a general rule, one teaspoon of dried herbs equals four teaspoons of fresh. Apart from boosting meat dishes, herbs can be added to soups, breads, mustards, salad dressings, vinegars, desserts and drinks. Herbs such as coriander, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass are especially complimentary in vegetable-based stir-fry recipes.

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