We’ve heard it for ages – nothing is better at nourishing us than home-cooked food. But are they healthy enough?
Most times, even while cooking at home, we tend to ignore health standards. Whether we do it out of laziness or lack of ideas isn’t important. But what it does to our bodies. Eating unhealthy food, even when it’s home-cooked, makes our metabolism slower and leaves us bloated. And we don’t need to tell you how an unhealthy body is a bane.
The next time you enter your kitchen, leave those lazily planned meals behind. Take control of the things you eat by cooking healthy. But how do you do that? With these easy tips below!
Ways to Cook Healthy Meals
Shop and Stock Wisely
What enters your pantry matters the most when you’re trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Say goodbye to those unplanned shopping trips to the grocery store. Instead, put some effort into shopping, and you’ll soon end up with a pantry full of nutritious options.
When shopping, stock up on grains like quinoa, oats, barley, and chia seeds. These are full of nutrients and usually affordable too. Similarly, never underestimate the health benefits of spices like ginger powder, garlic powder, paprika, and curry paste. Spices add immense flavour to an otherwise boring meal without making it unhealthy.
Go the Leafy Way
You’ll find this tip in every nutritionist’s book: eat more leafy greens. But doing that sounds easier than it is. Why? Because leafy greens don’t last long in your fridge. And sometimes, they prove far too bland. But there’s still a way you could include them in your meals.
Make it a habit to shop at your local farmer’s market every weekend for veggies like spinach, baby bok choy, lettuce, cabbage, and collard greens. Some of these should last you for a week if you store them wrapped in paper towels. Throughout the week, try to incorporate these in everything you cook. Here are some ways you can do that without compromising on the taste of your food.
- Whip up a quick pasta sauce/filling using spinach and ricotta. Use it instead of your regular marinara the next time you crave pasta.
- Prepare different salad dressings using cheeses, peanut butter, yoghurts, vinegar, and nuts. Use these on your leafy salads to jazz them up.
- Include greens like cabbage and baby bok choy in your stir-frys.
- Steam your leafy greens and stuff them in rolls made of tortilla sheets.
Oil the Right Way
Healthy cooking doesn’t have to mean avoiding oils. In fact, they aren’t that bad if you know which ones to use. Regular vegetable oils might be cheap, but they don’t do you any good. Cook with olive, canola, avocado, and coconut oils.
Also, invest in good non-stick cookware to limit your oil intake. Just one or two good-quality non-stick pans will do wonders in controlling how much oil you use. And even while cooking in them, try to brush oil instead of adding spoonfuls of it. Judge wisely which items need more oil, and add it accordingly. As a rule of thumb, watery vegetables often don’t need too much oil, while grains and skinless meats do. If you’re looking for some recommendations for non-stick cookware and other kitchen equipment, check out the Hooked to Cook website.
Just like spices, herbs, too, enhance the flavour of your food without making it unhealthy. So always keep your kitchen full of herbs like thyme, rosemary, basil, coriander, parsley, and tarragon.
If you can’t always find fresh herbs, keep dried ones that can last for months if stored well. And you’ll need far lesser of these in your food because they are more concentrated than fresh herbs. If possible, however, try to grow a small walled herb garden in your kitchen. That way, you’ll have all the fresh herbs you need at your fingertips. Follow these ways to incorporate more herbs in your meals:
- Serve pan-fried salmon and tuna with herbed olive oil. Just add your favourite finely chopped herb to a tablespoon or two of olive oil and mix it to prepare it. Such oils work well with other fishes and some meats too.
- Prepared herbed compound butter to serve with your steaks. You can also add herbs to your pan while basting meats to enhance their flavour.
- Tomato and basil make up a heavenly combination. Add dried basil to your fresh tomato soups and purees.
- When preparing broths and sauces, always add fresh herbs like rosemary and coriander.
All About Proteins and Bread
For meat-eaters, taking care of how they prepare and choose their proteins is crucial. Similarly, if you love eating a side of bread with almost every meal, you must be careful.
Choose lean and skinless proteins whenever possible. Shop for grass-fed meats and cook them in olive oil. If you have a lamb or steak with a lot of fat, try to render it instead of adding more oil. Seafood is also a healthier alternative to fatty proteins. The best thing about them is that you can just poach and enjoy most of them. Buy lobsters and clams for those fancy weekend dinners. Use shrimps in your lunch salads. Also, include more plant proteins like soybean, chickpeas, and lentils as your sides to heavy meals.
Whenever you shop for bread, choose whole-grain or brown bread. Try to grill them before eating for a better taste. And if you’re ambitious enough, try baking your bread at home.
Keeping in mind these 5 simple tips will make sure your meals become both healthy and tasty. With them, your home-cooked meals will be your gateway to a healthier lifestyle and a glowing body. Comment your own tips for healthy cooking down below.