The fact is that millions of Americans struggle with their weight and health issues that are directly related to the food that they eat. Nutrition plays a huge role in good health. The problem is that many people are cooking the way their parents did, and their parents before them.
In other words, we have all developed some pretty bad habits when it comes to cooking. Learning how to cook healthy can be a lot easier than many people think. All it really takes is making some switches. Most recipes can become healthy recipes if certain changes are made to the ingredient list and a few healthy substitutions are made.
Fear Not the Change
We live in a society in the US where everyone is looking for a quick fix. Rome was not built in a day and neither is a healthy lifestyle. Before you convince your doctor to refer you for weight loss surgery, there are a few things you should try. Slow and steady wins the race.
Try learning how to cook healthy, then give a few months to see how it goes. You may be very surprised to see the transformation. Getting rid of some of the hidden junk food in your diet can really help you to shed those unwanted pounds and improve your health.
Consider adding some exercise like Yoga to your routine. The benefits of yoga are tremendous and not only affect the body. A big component of Yoga is meditation which is a great way for you to get in the best mindset to feed your body nutritious food and learn how to cook healthy.
It is always a good idea to start with a clean slate when you are looking to make changes. Call for home appliance repair if you have an appliance that is not operating right, make sure you have a good stock of towels, bbq equipment, tumblers and bowls on hand. Once you have your kitchen ready to go, it is time to clean out the old and bring in the new.
One of the first steps to learning how to cook healthy is to get rid of all the things that are not healthy in your kitchen to avoid the temptation of using it. Here are some things you should be clearing out of your kitchen:
- Vegetable oils, shortening, butter
- White sugar, and white flour or breads
- Sodas, sugary drinks, cookies, cakes, most frozen processed meals, white table salt
You do not need a dream outdoor chef’s kitchen to learn how to cook healthy but you do need to have the right tools, equipment, and ingredients to learn how to cook healthy. Keeping vegetable oil and other fats in the house is a sure fire way to backslide into bad cooking habits. Get rid of the things you should not be including in your new healthy cooking to make the transition easier.
Let’s Go Shopping
Once you have all the old bad for you stuff cleared out, wrapped in towels and thrown in the trash, it is time to fill the kitchen with good for you foods that are going to make healthy cooking easier. Learn to read labels. Nutrition labels provide you with all the information you need about the food you buy.
Remember when you threw out that butter and other oils, well you need to replace them with something healthier. If you must fry use olive oil, but you do need to understand that olive oil has a lower smoke point than other types of oils. What does that mean? You will have to cook with it at lower temperatures.
Stevia is a great replacement for white sugar. You can also buy sugar in the raw which is unprocessed sugar. Here is a little information about sugar, it is not white. Sugar is really tan or beige color, we process it to make it white. Buy honey and use it as a sugar replacement. Applesauce is a great fat replacement for baking.
Stock up on different flavored waters if you just cannot drink plain old water. Stay away from juices from “concentrate with other natural flavors”. No one really knows what those other natural flavors are.
Avoid the prepared meals section of the grocery store. Frozen meals are the worst offenders when it comes to high sodium, added sugars, and added fats. Buy food that you have to actually cook like fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats.
Opt for whole grain bread and pasta. Get whole grain flours. The ingredients can be a little more expensive for healthy cooking but your health is worth the added expense. Once you get used to reading labels and choosing healthy ingredients it will become the only way you shop. A kitchen is more than nice plates and tumblers, it’s healthy food as well.
Let’s Get Cooking
If there is one new appliance that you can buy that will help you to learn how to cook healthy, it is an air fryer. Air fryers do not use any fat to “fry” foods. You get the same taste and texture that you would get from deep frying foods without any of the bad fats.
An air fryer is a great way to cook healthy without sacrificing taste or texture. They are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes to meet any kitchen needs. It is a great investment if you are wanting to learn how to cook healthy.
The real key to cooking healthy is just making healthier choices for your ingredient list and choosing to cook things using methods that do not defeat the goal of healthy eating. For example, frying foods in any kind of fat (even good fats like Olive Oil) as a primary way to cook is not a healthy way to cook.
Instead of frying your chicken after slathering it in the coating, try using different spices to deliver the flavor that you want and bake it, broil it, or BBQ it without the coating. A little olive oil (less than a tablespoon) for four chicken breasts that have been seasoned with pink Himalayan salt, fresh herbs, and pepper is a way healthier option.
Instead of using fats in a frying pan, you can use non-stick spray. You will use less and the fat will not transfer to your foods because your food will not be soaking in the grease. There are ways to cut the bad stuff out and add the good stuff.
You cannot completely cut fats out of your diet, but you can make healthy fat choices. Choosing the right proteins like lean meats and fish can help you to cook healthy meals that taste delicious. Eating read meat in smaller portions and less often is an easy way to clean up your diet.
Choose Your Sides Wisely
Instead of loading up our plate with potatoes all the time, consider cooking brown rice instead. Brown rice is rich in fiber and an easy side to prepare. You can even buy instant brown rice and have perfect rice every time.
A great way to make brown rice into a masterpiece is to cook it with broccoli or carrots. Just cook the veggies in the same pot you are cooking the rice in. Try some exotic flavoring to add a little jazz to your rice. Saffron is a great spice option for rice.
Vegetables Are A Staple
Veggies and fruit are a staple in healthy cooking. The beauty of veggies is that you can add them to any dish to really change the value of the dish. One way to make a simple change is to instead of cooking a slab of red meat, you can cooks strips of it instead and stir fry it with vegetables. You get the meat flavor you crave but you will consume far less. Instead of making your protein the star of the show, make it a guest of honor, and make the veggies the headliner.
This little trick can work with pasta, chicken, pork, shellfish, and more. The beauty of using more veggies and less meat is that you get more nutrition without sacrificing taste. For example, bowtie pasta paired with fresh grape tomatoes and broccoli with some grated cheese on top is a great main dish that is healthy for you.
Special Dietary Needs
You can learn how to cook healthy for the whole family. Many families have a few generations living in the same household. Grandma and grandpa may have some artificial teeth while your teen may have metal braces, like over one million other Americans they are trying to contend with.
Crispy crunchy foods or hard to tear apart proteins are likely hard for them to eat and enjoy. A great way to ensure that everyone is getting the nutrition that they need is to learn how to cook healthy soups. Soup is a great satisfying meal when combined with whole grain bread on the side.
Butternut squash makes a great soup. Chicken soup, turkey soup, vegetable soup, are all so easy to make, can feed many people, and everyone can eat it. Soup is easy to make all you need is a big pot, and healthy ingredients and a few hours to let it simmer.
Start with a good quality stock, choose beef, chicken or vegetable stock. Pour the stock into a pot add half as much water. Add celery, onions, and other herbs along with any protein you choose to add. Carrots, green beans, peas, and other vegetables can all be put in the pot as well.
What Do You Do About Dessert?
Is a meal really a meal without dessert? Don’t fret, you can learn how to cook healthy desserts to complement your healthy meals. You can do amazing things with yogurt as the base for your dessert. Create beautiful parfaits with yogurt as the base.
Take a dessert glass and layer yogurt fresh berries and granola to create a healthy sweet treat that is a feast for the eyes. Don’t you like yogurt? How about a delicious fruit salad? Citrus fruits peeled and layered with a drizzle of honey is simply delightful.
There are amazing things you can do with fruit to create wonderful desserts. Dessert does not have to mean leaving the table stuffed to the gills, it can mean a light refreshing treat that tops off a healthy delish meal.
Change Your Mindset
Change the way you think about food and learning how to cook healthy will come more naturally. Your relationship with food is evidenced in how you cook your food. Slathering food with high-fat sauces really does not let the taste of the food shine through.
Consider what food is supposed to do. It is supposed to nourish. If your cooking has gone off-reservation and has become a testament to excess it is time to rethink how you are cooking. Learning how to cook healthy can help you feel better about what you eat and what you are feeding your family.
Many parents suffer from what is called food guilt when it comes to their kids. They worry that they are not feeding their kids the right foods and they are allowing them to overindulge in foods that deliver empty calories.
Learning how to cook healthy will ensure that every meal is fully enjoyed without any guilt. Learning how to cook healthy can be one of the best choices you have ever made for yourself and for your family. Give it a try, it is a lot easier than you think to turn out great tasting healthy meals.