Healthier cooking options
22 March, 2018, 12:00 am
The Easter weekend is nearing and this may be the ideal time to start thinking of healthy ways to cook your meals for the family.
Even if you are hosting family or friends there are plenty of ways to cook up juicy and flavourful food without adding tons of unnecessary extras.
The best cooking methods to keep nutrients intact website ( need source???) says heat can break down and destroy 15 to 20 per cent of some vitamins in vegetables-especially vitamin C, folate, and potassium.
This is why raw foodists cut out cooking altogether, claiming that uncooked food maintains all of its nutritional value and supports optimal health.
But other studies suggest certain foods actually benefit from cooking.
When cooking carrots, spinach, and tomatoes, for example, heat facilitates the release of antioxidants by breaking down cell walls, providing an easier passage of the good guys from food to body. Let’s dive into the details.
Boiling is quick, easy, and requires nothing but water and a touch of salt, pepper, onions and herbs to whatever food you are cooking.
But in addition to the high temperatures, the large volume of water dissolves and washes away water-soluble vitamins and 60 to 70 percent of foods’ minerals.
While this method can dissolve vitamins and minerals in some foods (especially vegetables), it’s not the worst way to cook food. “Some antioxidants are more available when cooked. Lycopene in tomatoes, for example, is more readily available when cooked.
Carrots also fall into this category, and one study concluded that the level of beta-carotene increases after carrots are cooked.
Steaming anything from fresh vegies to fish fillets allows them to cook in their own juices and retain all that natural goodness. It’s always good to add a little seasoning first, whether that’s a sprinkle of salt or a squeeze of lemon juice.
Some research suggests steaming could be the best way to cook vegies.
The same goes for boiling’s cousin, poaching-no additions required. Basically, poaching means cooking the given food in a small amount of hot water just below boiling point. It takes slightly longer (which some experts believe can decrease nutrient retention), but is a great way to gently cook delicate foods like fish, eggs, or fruit. Plus, it’s just about the most delicious way to cook an egg.
Broiling entails cooking food under high, direct heat for a short period of time. Broiling is a great way to cook tender cuts of meat, but may not be ideal for cooking vegies, as they can dry out easily. The hotter temperature also tends to degrade the enzymes in the produce, causing more nutrient losses.
In terms of getting maximum nutrition without sacrificing flavour, grilling is a great cooking method. It requires minimal added fats and imparts a smoky flavour while keeping meats and vegies juicy and tender. While these are definitely healthy benefits, not everything about grilling is so peachy. Cooking at high heat can also produce a chemical reaction between the fat and protein in meat, creating toxins that are linked to the imbalance of antioxidants in the body and inflammation, which can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This doesn’t mean barbecues are forbidden-just stick with lean cuts of meat that require less cooking time and keep dark meats on the rarer side.
While this method does require some oil in the pan, it should only be a moderate amount-just enough to get a nice sear on your meat and vegies. It’s effective for bite-size pieces of meat, grains like rice and thin-cut vegies like carrots, and peas.
Some studies actually found that cooking vegies in a little bit of olive oil may increase the antioxidant capacity of the food. This may come as no surprise, as olive oil is a large part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.
These are some healthy ways of cooking you can try for your family this Easter.