Cooking habits may just be what you need for a healthier meal. Although the word “healthier” gives the impression of tasteless food, the contrary is true. Here are some tips for healthy and savoury cooking:
If you are cooking in higher temperatures, 200-500F degrees, the following oils are better to use: coconut oil, red palm oil, ghee (clarified butter).
Some oils, however, are best cooked on low to medium heat (not more than 200F); for example when sautéing sauces and low heat baking. These oils are extra virgin olive oil, sesame seed oil and peanut oil.
Some oils should not be heated at all and are suitable for cold salad dressing: flaxseed oil, hemp oil and hazelnut oil.
There are also a few cooking methods for vegetables that can better preserve flavour and nutrients. For example, steaming them on a steamer basket helps conserve the flavours, the minerals and some vitamins of the vegetable. It is also healthier to sauté your veggies, instead of frying them. Fine Cooking perfectly explains the difference between sautéing and frying. Sautéing is when you “use only the smallest amount of fat or oil – enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and prevent the food from sticking … keep the food in nearly constant motion, by stirring” while frying is when you “use about 1/4 inch of fat or oil … leave the food relatively undisturbed – except for an occasional flip or turn with a spatula, a fork, or tongs”.
Some veggies are even better sautéed with a little bit of oil as their nutrients are better absorbed into our bodies with some fat presence. Last, but not least, in most cases, nutrients are contained in the peels and skins so it is beneficial to eat them along with the vegetables. That means no more peeling those carrots before cooking!
If your recipe requires a sweetener, when possible, use top quality honey or maple syrup. Aim for adding your sweetener after you’ve removed the dish from the heat as heat may destroy many of these natural sweeteners’ beneficial nutrients.