Healthy cooking methods

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Hey, put away that deep fryer! Here’s a list of simple, low-fat cooking methods you can test out if you want to avoid coming down with a lethal dose of abdominal flubber, and this list will also ensure your food keeps its nutritional goodness. If you’d like to know how to whip up something more complex than cheese-on-toast, you’ll need to know the difference between these terms before touching your oven or grill. Which of these methods you’ll like the most will depend on your own personal tastes, as one person’s delicious steamed salmon is another person’s toxic nightmare.

Steaming

Place your food on a rack, put the rack above boiling water, then cover the pan and the rack of food with a lid. Ideal for veggies, chicken, fish and much more. Steaming is regarded as the healthiest form of cooking of all because no nutrients are lost from the food itself during the cooking process.

Soup

Combine chopped up veggies and meat with heaps of stock in a big pot, bring the pot to the boil, then cook on a low temperature for an hour or two. Home-made soup is a much better option than boring old boiling (see the NOT RECOMMENDED section at the end of this article), as a soup will retain all of the nutritious stuff you’ve placed in it. Once you’ve whacked together a pot of soup you don’t discard anything besides bones, fat, skin and other inedible things, like bay leaves.

Stewing/Braising

This involves cooking meat and vegetables in a liquid stock. Herbs and spices are an essential part of any stew or braise, so get familiar with what works with what, such as salt, thyme and rosemary for lamb. The distinction between stewing and braising is that braising involves cooking large cuts of meat in enough liquid to partially cover the meat, while stewing uses small pieces of meat that are totally immersed in liquid. Also, a stew is cooked on top of the stove while a braise is done in the oven. Both methods are nutrient-rich, flavour friendly and are a good way of turning a cheap cut of meat into something wonderful.

Poaching

Gently cooking food in a little bit of water or stock in a frying pan is known as poaching. Poached eggs are quite popular, and poaching is a very good alternative to frying.

Roasting

Cooking food in the oven in a heavy, oiled pan is a comparatively healthy cooking method. When roasting meat, any juices you get from the joint should be used for basting, since roasting meat can have a severe drying effect if left to its own devices. Whatever liquids are left can also be mixed with the gravy, which is simply awesome.

Grilling

This means placing your food beneath a screaming hot element. As well as being the only way to do proper cheese on toast, grilling doesn’t require much oil, and it gives your food a nice taste and is pretty healthy.

NOT RECOMMENDED: Deep frying

Heating heaps of oil to a high temperature and then immersing breaded or battered meat (such as chicken) until it goes golden is, by far, the worst possible way to cook your food when it comes to nutritional content and fat levels. Even shallow frying, which involves cooking in only a centimetre or so of heated oil, is a bad choice. The health problems associated with deep frying could fill entire books.

NOT RECOMMENDED: Boiling

Yep, boiling is in the NOT RECOMMENDED section. Steeping your food in litres of boiling water was once regarded as a healthy option, but it turned out to be nutritionally wasteful for one big reason: most of the vitamins are chucked out with the cooking water. It doesn’t do much for the flavour, either, as boiling sucks out the taste along with the goodness.

So, has all this talk of food got you in the mood to whip up something in the kitchen? For a site that has dozens of variations on tens of thousands of different dishes, I recommend…

www.taste.com.au/

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