Healthy food does not mean you have to give up your favorite foods. You can easily adapt your favorite recipes to make healthier options. Nonstick cookware, for example, can be used to cut down on the use of cooking oil. Vegetables can be microwaved or steam cooked instead of being boiled to preserve valuable nutrients.
There are many ways you can make your meals healthier. Reduce fats, sugars, salt, and increase the number of vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean meats in your cooking. Foods with added sugars, fats, or salt are less nutritious than foods made from natural sources.
Limit fats to a minimum
Limit processed foods. To reduce hidden fats, choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Because they contain the essential long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, these fats can be accompanied by other beneficial nutrients, such as avocado, nuts, seeds, fish and soy.
Avoid adding fats to your cooking and instead use monounsaturated oils like olive or canola oil.
Healthy food shopping
- Shopping is the best place to start low-fat cooking possible; choose the reduced-fat or low-fat version. This includes milk, cheeses, dressings, gravies, and yoghurt.
- Select lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken breasts.
- Avoid fast food, chips, crackers, processed meats and pastries, as they all contain high amounts of fat.
- Some suggestions: You can use cooking sprays to reduce oil consumption or oil brushing to apply oil.
- Instead of oil, cook in liquids like stock, wine or lemon juice, juice, vinegar, or water.
- Low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, and evaporated skim milk can be used in place of cream for sauces and soups.
- Heat a pan and then spray it with oil instead of adding oil to the pan before browning vegetables. This will reduce the oil vegetables absorb while cooking.
- You can also brown vegetables in pan-frying by cooking them in the microwave and then finishing them off under the grill for about a minute.
- Instead of butter, cream sauces, and sour creams, use pesto, salsas, and chutneys.
Maintaining the nutrients
- Water-soluble vitamins can be easily damaged during cooking and preparation. To minimise nutrient losses: You can scrub vegetables instead of peeling them. Many nutrients are close to the skin.
- Instead of boiling vegetables, microwave or steam them.
- You can boil vegetables with a little water, but not too much.
- Incorporate more stir-fry recipes into your diet. Stir-fried vegetables can be quickly cooked to preserve their crunch and other nutrients.
- Salt is used as a flavor enhancer. However, research has shown that high salt intake could lead to high blood pressure and other health issues. Here are some suggestions to reduce salt: Salt should not be added to food by default. It would help if you tasted it first.
- A splash of olive oil or vinegar, or lemon juice at the end of cooking or adding vegetables to the oven can enhance the flavours.
- Pick fresh or frozen vegetables as canned and pickled vegetables are often packed with salt.
- Limit salty processed meats like salami, ham and bacon.
- Reduce salt in your bread and breakfast cereals. It would help if you avoided bread and cereals as they are high in salt.
- The best is iodised salt. Plant foods are a major source of iodine. Evidence suggests that Australian soil might be deficient in iodine, and therefore plants grown there may also lack iodine. The need for iodised salt will be reduced if you consume fish less than once per week.
- Salt-laden processed foods like flavoured instant noodles or pasta, canned soup mixes or dehydrated soups, chips, and salted nuts should be avoided.
- Butter and Margarine contain lots of salt, but there are ‘no added salt” varieties.
- Many kinds of cheese have high salt content, so be careful and limit your salt intake.
- Reduce the use of tomato sauce, soy sauce, and processed condiments like mayonnaise or salad dressings. They contain high amounts of salt.
Culinary herbs are leafy vegetables that bring flavour and colour to many types of food. They are also high in Phyto-oestrogens, which protect your health. Many herbs can be used to replace salt and oil.
- Remember: The delicate flavours of herbs can be added to food in the final few minutes.
- Dried herbs have a stronger flavour than fresh ones. One teaspoon of dried herbs is equal to four teaspoons fresh.
- You can add herbs to soups, bread and salad dressings, and desserts and beverages.
- In vegetable-based stir fry recipes, herbs such as ginger, garlic and chilli are particularly good companions.
- You can make your sandwich healthier by adding these: Switch to wholegrain or reduced-salt wholemeal bread.
- Avoid butter and margarine. If your sandwich already contains some tasty ingredients, you won’t feel the need for butter.
- Make sure to use plenty of salad or vegetable fillings
- Spreads rich in saturated fat such as butter and cream cheese should be limited. You can replace them with thin spreads of peanut butter, other nut spreads, avocado, low-fat cheese spreads, or hummus.
- When possible, choose low-fat ingredients such as mayonnaise or low-fat cheese.
- Reduce your intake of processed meats. Use fish like salmon, tuna and sardines instead.
- Toasty sandwiches served with baked beans.
Some general suggestions for healthy cooking
- These healthy cooking techniques include: Your food can be baked, grilled, braised or boiled.
- You can modify or remove butter-based recipes or ask for animal fat to deep fry or stir-fry.
- Use nonstick cookware and avoid butter and oils.
- Salt should not be added to the food while it is being cooked.
- Take off the skin from chickens and remove any fat.
- Increase your intake of fresh vegetables and legumes
- Fish is rich in protein and low in fat but high in essential omega-3 fatty acids.
- Some suggestions: Give your presentation some thought. Visual appeal is more appealing than taste.
- Every meal should be celebrated. Set the table. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your meal without the distractions of television.
- Crash dieting is a long-term deprivation that doesn’t work. You can indulge in guilt-free treats from time to time.
- Slowly eating and enjoying every bite is a better way to reduce the likelihood of overeating.
Where can I get help?
- Dietitians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942
- Your doctor
Important things to keep in mind
- Many times, favorite recipes can be modified to lower the fat content.
- Instead of deep-frying, steam, bake, grill or braise your food.
- Nonstick cookware is recommended.
- To retain nutrients, microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling.