Healthy cooking is easy if one is aware and takes a little more care than the usual cooking. Here are the top 10 tips to retain nutrients in the food and to improve its health index!
1. Shop for healthy food: Cooking begins in the grocery shop / in the vegetable market! Shop for fresh and minimally processed food. Choose low fat versions of the food products e.g. toned milk, low fat cheese, lean meat etc. Avoid buying fried foods and sweets.
2. Preserve the nutrients during pre-preparation: Many nutrients are lost even before the cooking starts! So, be careful during pre-preparation. Leave the skin of fruits and vegetables wherever possible. Wash vegetables before chopping them. Scrub veggies rather than peeling.
3. Choose right cooking method: Prefer boiling, steaming, roasting over frying and barbequing.
4. Use low fat cooking gadgets: Use non-stick pans, cooking sprays, pastry brush etc. to minimize the oil requirement during cooking.
5. Use healthy fats for cooking: Prefer healthy oils like olive oil, soy oil, ricebran oil etc. over saturated fats like butter, vanaspati ghee etc. Rotate the type of oil regularly.
6. Use minimal salt: Salty foods are harmful for heart health. Use not more than a teaspoon of salt per day. Add salt after cooking and prefer black salt wherever possible.
7. Use healthy herbs for cooking: Herbs are rich in antioxidants and some minerals. They also possess some medicinal properties in addition to a particular aroma. Use herbs such as mint, lemon-grass, coriander, ginger, garlic, basil, curry leaves etc.
8. Store the food properly: Pack the food properly in aluminum foil or food-grade plastic or in a airtight containers. Don’t keep it open for a long time as it then loses the vital nutrients. In summers, store food in refrigerator.
9. Do not use leftover food and stale ingredients for cooking: Left over and stale food is home to many microorganisms and can cause food infections. The best practice is to discard cooked food after 24 hours if not consumed.
10. Maintain hygiene: Clean the hands, the cooking utensils and the cooking platform before preparing food. It will improve shelf life of the food and ensure safety of your near & dear ones!!