Eating healthy is hard! Especially when you also want to eat foods that you actually enjoy. So what should you do? You know you should eat healthy, you really want to try but the task of choosing foods that are good for you at every single meal can be daunting. Cooking healthy foods is also a huge challenge. But don’t worry, we are here to help! So get your chef hats on because with these simple cooking tips, you will be on your way to cooking and eating healthy delicious meals in no time!
Stay away from prepackaged meals
Packaged foods are frequently loaded with salt and too much sodium can increase blood pressure, increase your chance of a stroke and also cause heart failure. Now that doesn’t sound like a good meal plan! The same holds true for restaurant food where salt, butter, and sugar are loaded into the foods. The best plan, if you really want to try to eat healthier, is to cook your own food. This way, you can control what you are eating and use fresh, natural foods. So say goodbye to packaged foods and hidden additives!
Choose the right fats
That’s right, you should eat fats but some are much better for you than others! Try to avoid using butter and other saturated fats in your recipes. Olive oil is great for cooking and is full of natural antioxidants, can help prevent heart disease and is full of monounsaturated fats (the really good kind of fat that your body needs). So skip the butter and the next time you are cooking, pour some nice extra virgin olive oil into your pan!
Boil and steam your food
The cooking method you use can also have a big impact on the nutritional value your food has. It’s no secret that deep frying foods is probably not the best way to cook when you are trying to eat healthy. However, even sautéing or pan frying can add a lot of unnecessary grease to your diet. Next time you are cooking, try baking, broiling or steaming your food. In the example of fish, a steamed fish is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids (which play a crucial role in helping brain function) while the high heat from deep frying that same fish will make these nutrients unusable in your body. Don’t ruin your healthy foods by frying them!
Adding any kind of fresh vegetable to your meal is an automatic great choice. Eating vegetables can reduce your risk of heart disease, protect your body from cancer and can help prevent diabetes. Sign me up for some vegetables! If you, not a big fan of how vegetables taste, try sneaking them into your recipes. Throw some fresh spinach into your pasta sauce, puree beets into your smoothie or mix some peas into your pesto. Anyway, you can incorporate vegetables into a meal is a guaranteed health win!
Fresh fruits are also health powerhouses and another ingredient that is easy to slip into recipes when you are cooking. Full of vitamins and minerals, fresh fruit will help prevent cardiovascular disease and help the body produce red blood cells. Try making muffins with bananas and applesauce for a healthy breakfast that is easy to take on the go. Blending fresh berries into your milkshake is a delicious way to get fruit and dessert at the same time! If you are a big fruit lover already, there is nothing better than eating a plain apple each day (it seriously does help keep the doctor away).
Choose unrefined grains
hole grains (such as whole wheat or brown rice) have much more nutritional value compared to their more processed relatives. For example, whole grain pasta is made with the bran and germ of the wheat grain which contains more fiber, potassium and B vitamins (which are crucial to making energy for your body). In regular pasta, the bran and germ of the grain have been removed and therefore decreased the health benefits of the pasta greatly. Whole grain versions of pasta and rice are readily available and so easy to switch to in any recipe.
If you do a lot of baking or just like to eat a lot of baked goods, try to avoid high fructose corn syrup. Unfortunately, corn syrup can be found in so many pre-made foods (ketchup, baked beans, and peanut butter all frequently have corn syrup). Consuming high fructose corn syrup (especially when you are unaware it is in your foods) has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. While limiting your intake of sugar is a good rule of thumb, try not to bake with corn syrup or add extra sugars to your recipes in general.
Now you are laden with many different ways to easily cook healthier meals at home. Simple choices can lead to big benefits especially when it comes to cooking and eating! So fire up the stove top, turn on the oven and start cooking to a healthier version of yourself!
Easy Lemon Steamed Flounder
Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 15 minutes
- 4 large filets of Flounder
- 4 Cloves of garlic, diced
- 1 Lemon, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
-Place each flounder filet on a large piece of aluminum foil
-Sprinkle one clove of diced garlic onto each fish filet
-Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper
-Place two to three lemon slices on top of each fish filet
-Fold the aluminum foil around each filet so the fish is completely enclosed.
-Move the foil packets to a sheet tray and cook in a 350 ̊F oven for 12-15 minutes
-Serve fish immediately with the juice from the packet.