Healthy Eating Habits

How to Cook Healthy Food

Healthy Lifestyles Start at Home

Cooking food at home is essential to any healthy lifestyle. You need to be able to control what you are taking into your body. Fast food and restaurant food are typically low grade junk food that is packed full of nastiness that you need to be avoiding at all costs. There are so many different snack options, to keep close at hand, that are so much better than pulling through the drive-thru and will hold you over until you get home to cook. You will also save money by eating healthy snacks; $3 for a nutritious snack bar or $8 for carryout that will leave you bloated and hungry in an hour. Clearly the nutritious snack bar is the better option.

How to Cook

I am not going to be teaching you exactly how to cook, but I can tell you some things that are very important when you are cooking:

  • READ THE INSTRUCTIONS – Fully read the recipe instructions prior to beginning. There is nothing worse than choosing a recipe only to find out that you can’t have your food for 24 hours, because of some step that says refrigerate for some extended period of time that isn’t going to work into your dinner plans for today. Also, some things, especially baked goods, may have a specific order for the ingredients to be mixed together and if you just start going down the ingredients list and mixing it all together at the end you are going to find out very quickly that there is a reason why they provided specific instructions on how to mix things correctly. The best way to begin cooking is to read all the instructions and the ingredients list, then begin cooking. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have told me, “I can’t cook!” No, you can’t read and follow instructions. If this is a problem you have, I highly recommend that you focus and go step by step with the instructions until you have made the recipe enough to not need the directions anymore.
  • CHECK THE INGREDIENTS LIST – If you don’t have everything you need to finish the recipe then you won’t get very far. Also, if you hate cumin then you aren’t going to want to choose a recipe that has a predominate cumin taste, so it is always best to make sure that what you are about to make matches your taste buds. I regularly Google recipes and combine them into what I want, because I am very picky.
  • KEEP THE HEAT DOWN – A common issue for people seems to be what temperature to use for stovetop cooking. High or 10 is only acceptable to use if you are boiling water, typically you should not be using such high temperatures. Most food will be cooked around medium or 5’ish on the stovetop. If you are working with a gas stove keep the flame low; it shouldn’t be going beyond the bottom of the pan. It is better to cook something slow rather than burning it to a crisp on the outside and having an uncooked inside. Every stove is different, so stay close by while you cook to make sure that things are progressing correctly.
  • DON’T EVER USE COOKING SPRAY – So many times I see recipes that start out with “spray the pan with cooking spray”, my reaction AAAAHHH NO!! Cooking spray is absolutely awful for your cookware! Please stop using it! Use some olive oil (not vegetable oil) and add more as needed while cooking. Cooking spray leaves a nasty coat on your pan after cooking that is extremely difficult to remove and it damages the cooking surface of non-stick pans. Use a quality pan that has a strong non-stick surface to make your life easier.
Anolon Advanced Home Saute Pan with Veggie Stir Fry in Onyx
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How to Find and Create Great Recipes for Your Taste buds

  • Search the kind of food you are looking to make. Example: Vegan burger recipes; if you don’t have a specific item you want to make you can easily browse recipes with a more general category, like vegetarian recipes. You can also search for ingredients in the recipe, but this is harder if you are just starting out. I typically only use this when I am trying to replace something in the recipe, for instance replacing eggs or getting a recipe without yeast.
  • Once you have the enormous list of recipe options to choose from right-click and open in a new tab about 5-10 recipes that are for the same thing.
  • Look at the prep time and cook time for all the recipes. These 2 things can determine if you are going to be wasting your time on those recipes. If the cookies you want need to sit over night in the refrigerator and you want a cookie in your hands within the hour then you need to have a different type of cookie or a different recipe. If you have guests coming in 2 hours and the cook time is an hour plus an hour of prep, that might be a problem, so check your times every time.
  • Look at the ingredients list for all the recipes you open. You need to know if you have the ingredients and you need to know if they sound appealing to you. I personally hate the taste of ginger so I tend to leave it out, but if it is a major ingredient I might move on to the next recipe.

How to Combine Recipes

Once you look at all the recipes determine what is the same for all the recipes. Example: they all have flour, oregano and salt. This isn’t a long process you are just doing a quick look to see what you want to keep and what you want to chuck. Once you have found the things that are the same, you will want to find what is different and start putting together what sounds good to you. So, what does that mean?? If I want to make muffins I typically choose one base recipe and expand on it for my taste. A good example is nuts in the recipe, they can be deleted or replaced easily.

Questions to ask yourself while you are combining recipes:

  • What is the average amount of the main ingredient? With muffins that would be flour.
  • Do I need to replace any of the ingredients? If you don’t use eggs you will need baking powder and vinegar.
  • What recipe ingredients look the best? One recipe has lemon and the other has lime… if you like the recipe that has the lime, but you prefer the taste of lemon, then exchange the lime for lemon.
  • Is there anything that I think would taste better? I LOVE CINNAMON! Not every muffin recipe contains cinnamon, which I think is just outrageous!
  • Is there anything I can add that would make the recipe more healthy? I add spinach to my veggie burgers and that was not in the original recipe.
  • What type of cookware will I need for this recipe? If you need a bundt pan and you don’t have one you may want to get one to make sure that you can make the recipe correctly.

Are you overwhelmed? Don’t worry! It sounds harder than it is.

Meal services for people that are too busy or don’t want to learn to cook.

Yes, there are companies that will put together all the ingredients you need and send them straight to your door with a simple recipe. If you are busy you can go online and order meals that will be delivered to your door once per week or on whatever schedule you prefer. Then, you can come home knowing that you are all set for dinner and it takes the time, effort and stress out of learning to cook and grocery shopping. You know yourself best, if you know that you won’t be doing any recipe combining or experimenting then pre-prepared meals may be the best option for you to get a healthy meal. You need to do what is going to work best for you in your schedule or your poor eating habits will quickly return and you will be back at square one.

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