Research shows people who cook at home more often:
- eat healthier
- spend less
- have better health outcomes.
We all want to follow a healthy diet, and cooking at home is great for that. We can control exactly what goes in (and what stays out), and our serving size.
We also know which foods we should eat every day (visit the Australian Dietary Guidelines for a reminder), but have you ever considered the best way to cook them?
We asked our Public Health Nutritionist, Laura, to tell us about some healthy cooking methods when we’re cooking at home.
Healthy cooking methods with water
Steaming is great! You can steam vegetables, fish, rice, and dumplings – just to name a few. Not only does this cooking method involve NO added fats or oils. It also locks in nutrients, particularly water-soluble vitamins that can otherwise be leached out into cooking water. Cook vegetables to tender crisp, meaning they still have a bit of bite. No one likes mushy, over-cooked broccoli.
Don’t own a steamer? Improvise with a colander over an inch of water and a well-fitting pot lid.
Poaching or boiling
Like steaming, poaching is another cooking method that involves no added fats or oils. Poaching means to cook in lightly-simmering liquid, such as water or flavoured broth.
You can easily poach eggs, chicken, fish, and even fruits.
The secret to the best poached eggs? In lightly simmering water, add a tiny bit of salt or vinegar (helps set the egg white quickly), use a fresh egg, and gently lower into the pot with confidence.
Healthy cooking methods with hotplates
Grilling and BBQs
Who doesn’t love the smell of a barbie? Grilling or barbequing can be a healthy cooking method when using only a small amount of healthy oil. For an added bonus, the chargrill gives an awesome flavour.
Ditch the heavily-processed meats like snags and rissoles. Opt for lean meats and lots of veggies instead. Anyone else hear corn on the cob calling their name?
There are so many benefits to stir frying:
- Only small amounts of oil needed
- Recipes packed full of vegetables
- Dinner cooked in 10 minutes or under.
Healthy cooking methods with devices
Everyone is going crazy for air fryers. If you’ve been living under a rock and missed this craze, air fryers deliver crispy results, just like deep frying. With only one tablespoon of oil needed, it seems too good to be true!
Air fryers lend themselves to cooking food we usually deep fry – think chips, potato gems, and hash browns. Cooking with air fryers gives these treat foods a healthier makeover.
You don’t have to use ready-made products either. Make your own vegetable chips in your air fryer – it’s cheaper and you’ll be eating a lot less oil and salt!
Don’t have an air fryer? Me neither. I make sweet potato chips in the oven. Cut the potato into batons, add a small amount of spray olive oil and cayenne spice, and bake. Sometimes I add polenta or breadcrumbs for extra crunch. Zucchini, panko breadcrumbs and parmesan is another winning combination.
Casseroles and slow cooker recipes are the lazy cook’s best friend. You get lots of flavour from not much work. The slow cooking method brings out lots of flavour without the need to add masses of fats, oils or salt. Casseroles are perfect for batch cooking, too.
My hack: Make more than you need so you can cook it once and eat it twice.
Healthy cooking methods summed up
Cook family meals with everyday foods like seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains and cereals (mostly wholegrains), lean meats and alternatives, and low or reduced fat dairy foods and alternatives.
Opt for the healthy cooking methods listed above, and you’ll use no or hardly any added fats, oils and salt.
It’s what we cook AND how we cook it that matters.