I always enjoy cooking for the family – not only does it bring everyone together, but I also get to keep them healthy (and help my husband reclaim his six-pack). Here are some ways I keep my cooking nutritious:
1. Don’t overcook your veggies
Overcooked veggies lose their color and nutrients. Cook them quickly instead and preserve both nutrients and colors with steam or stir-fry options.
2. Ditch creamy dressings
Creamy dressings aren’t good for your health, especially if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Opt for herbs, vinegar, tomatoes, onions and fat-free/low-fat sauces or salad dressings instead. They taste just as good, if not better!
Make convenience your friend and use your freezer to your advantage. Cook in surplus with several meals in mind. That way, when you freeze it you’ll have a ready-to-go meal that’s both easy and healthy when you’re feeling lazy.
4. Smoothies are a Godsend
Don’t ignore smoothies! They’re as simple as throwing a bunch of ingredients into a blender and it helps make the fruit intake more palatable for the kids. Frozen bananas, berries, or kiwi work well as a solid base for flavor and throwing in some yoghurt will bring it all together. It’s cool, way too easy, and a big boost for your health. Do note, however, to use low-fat options, being sure to avoid sugar and fat.
5. Keep things spicy!
Who says being healthy means giving up on flavor? Try fresh herbs and spices or salt-free seasonings instead of processed ones high in salt that risk high blood pressure. If you want, you could also use chili or lemon juice to spice things up.
6. Read your labels
Just because they’re vegetables doesn’t mean the canned ones are always healthy – they’re often high in sodium. Be sure to look out for “low sodium” on the packaging if you’re really stuck with canned options. Compare Nutrition Facts and pick the one with the least amount of sodium in it.
7. Muffin top no more
Here’s a quick recipe on breads and muffins that don’t contain too many calories and fats: Use 3 ripe, mashed bananas instead of butter, lard, and other fats; you can also swap them out with applesauce cup-for-cup.
8. Go whole grain
Some people may have a harder time getting used to whole grain, but trust me, it’s worth the transition. Whole-wheat flour could replace up to ½ of regular all-purpose flour, so you’re not completely going cold turkey and it tastes much better than processed bread.
9. Baking without butter
Butter, whole milk, and heavy cream are staples in baking. However, you can actually do without all the calories. Try plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt or sour cream instead – it still works like a charm.
10. Turn away from full cream
Milk can be healthy, but make sure to use the low fat or skimmed variants if you want to make the most of it and reduce calories in your recipes. Luckily, there are different levels that you can ease into lower calories with in 1% milk, reduced-fat (2%), evaporated skim milk, and half-and-half.