We all know we should be eating healthier. But it’s not just changing our eating habits in restaurants that needs to be done. We can also change how we cook our food at home. Healthy cooking at home doesn’t need to be bland or boring! In fact, you may find some of these tips will add more flavor to your dishes!
The first thing to do is choose leaner cuts of meat. The obvious choices for low fat cooking are chicken and fish, but other meats can be lower in fat as well. When shopping for red meat, the words ‘sirloin’ and ’round’ are cuts which are naturally lower in fat. Check the meat and choose the one with the least amount of marbling and trim off any excess fat before cooking. Look for ground beef that is 95% lean. Pork is also another great lean meat.
The problem most people have with lean meats is that they will dry out easily when cooking. To avoid this, try a marinade. Marinades aren’t just for flavor (although that is a great benefit!). Using acidic liquids will actually help break down the tougher connective tissue in the meat. Try one of the many low fat marinades available in your grocery store, or make up your own with ingredients such as balsamic or red wine vinegar, herbs and spices. Depending on the size of the meat portion, you can marinade from 20 minutes to several hours. A great marinade for chicken is yogurt. Mix fat free yogurt with some lemon juice, salt, pepper and any other spices you like and coat your chicken breasts. Yogurt marinades are best after 8 hours or overnight.
Tired of bland vegetables? Try sautéing your vegetables in a little chicken broth (or vegetable broth) instead of oil. Then sprinkle on herbs. Even just a sprinkling of chopped chives can add a zesty new taste to your vegetables. Another great option is roasting vegetables. This works wonderfully with root vegetables or other very firm ones such as cauliflower and squashes. Simply cut the vegetables into large chunks, spray with cooking spray and toss on seasoning. Curry powders, cajun blends or Italian seasonings are great. Roast in a 450 degree oven until the vegetables are tender. You can also place the vegetable pieces on a skewer and roast on your grill!
You don’t have to give up dessert when eating healthily, either! Fruit makes a wonderful dessert, or even a side dish with your regular meal. Try a bowl of mixed berries topped with a low fat or fat free vanilla yogurt. Or sauté bananas in a non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle on cinnamon and a touch of vanilla extract. Serve with frozen yogurt. Even kids will think they are getting an indulgent treat!
Have a favorite recipe that isn’t so healthy? You can try modifying it. Remove any skin from meats, use half the amount of oil asked for in cooking. For baked goods, substitute applesauce for oil – your cakes will still be moist and flavorful! In recipes asking for cream, try using evaporated skim milk. With these substitutions, many times you won’t even notice the difference.
Healthy living is important and it is easy. Just a few quick changes and your home cooking will be better and healthier for your family!