Do you know the healthiest ways to cook the foods in your pantry and fridge? Most people don’t. Typically, the quickest, easiest, and tastiest way to enjoy food is to fry it. Even though you already know fried food isn’t good for you, there’s an easy way to cut back: Learn which foods are best prepared baked, boiled, steamed, and microwaved. And never underestimate the power of a slow cooker.
Slow cook your beans
When you’re in the mood for beans, Mayo Clinic suggests soaking whole, dry beans before cooking them, instead of buying them canned and pre-flavored. This allows you to add healthier seasonings, like herbs and spices, instead of salting a pot of boiling water. When you start with dry beans and incorporate your own flavors and add-ins, you’re also eliminating a lot of the salt and added sugar that typically comes in canned beans doused in sauce.
Bake your chicken
When you want to cook something without adding extra calories, avoid cooking methods that add fat, Marion Nestle writes in The Atlantic. Experts consider fried chicken unhealthy because it’s literally chicken soaked in hot oil. Baking your chicken in the oven (hopefully) eliminates the need to add extra calories and saturated fat to your meal’s main course. You can drizzle a little olive oil on there, along with some herbs, but baking brings out a food’s flavor naturally.
Steam your fish
Fried fish dipped in hollandaise is great and all, but it’s possible to enjoy your favorite entree and avoid too many calories or an overload of fat. According to Livestrong.com, steaming your fish — especially shellfish — is one of the healthiest ways to cook and enjoy seafood. Steaming keeps a fish’s omega-3 fatty acids intact, so your body can absorb and take advantage of those beneficial fats. Keep your heart healthy, enjoy your fish, and leave the frying pan in storage.
Boil your eggs
The same way baking chicken can theoretically shrink your waistline, boiling your eggs cuts out the need for butter or oil commonly used in frying or scrambling. The less fat used in cooking, the better. According to Healthline, hard boiled eggs are one of the healthiest forms of this high-protein ingredient or snack. All you need is a pot of boiling water, and you’re all set. As for the cholesterol — don’t worry. Healthline also notes that dietary cholesterol probably doesn’t cause heart disease in most people. Enjoy your eggs.
Microwave your vegetables
You need to eat vegetables. They’re full of protein, fiber, and other nutrients you need to stay healthy. Thankfully, you don’t have to eat them raw — and you don’t have to settle for boiling them in water, either. Microwaving your veggies helps them retain most of their antioxidants, says Rodale’s Organic Life. After they’re cooked, you can add your own seasonings to enhance their flavor.
Leave the skin on your baked potato
Baking a potato is one of the healthiest ways to cook and eat it — but not if you leave the skin on your plate.Livestrong.com says you’re missing out on up to 4 grams of fiber — and plenty of vitamins and other minerals — without it. In general, baking a potato doesn’t make it a healthier starch. But it’s definitely healthier than mashing your (peeled) potatoes and adding butter, or making scalloped potatoes, which involves way more cheese than necessary. As much as you don’t want to admit it, pretty much anything is better than potato chips and french fries.
Does heating food really destroy nutrients?
The New York Times columnist Tara Parker-Pope writes that measuring increases in nutrient availability versus nutrient loss is complicated. Sometimes, cooking a certain food makes some nutrients easier for your body to absorb, while having the opposite effect on other nutrients. Whether you’re cooking a vegetable, animal protein, or delicious side dish, use a variety of cooking methods. Eating a variety of foods is much more important to make sure you’re getting all the nutrition your body needs to thrive.