I have been telling people for years they need to eat the right foods. I should have also told you “if you’re going to eat right you have to cook it right.” Your stove is one of the most important appliances in your house. I know most people don’t use it. Convenience has become a way of life. Let someone else do the cooking. Eating healthy is something you have a lot of control over. This control can lead to better health and a longer life. After you read my article I want you to go into your kitchen and find your stove.
Cooking healthy takes meal planning. You cannot cook a great meal if you leave your meal to chance. To do this you must shop wisely. Plan your meals then make your list of what you need. Always have a list of the foods you need when you shop, never shop on an empty stomach and stick to your list. Sticking to a meal plan will help ensure you have a great cooking experience.
Your meal plan should include two servings of protein, four to six servings of vegetables, three to six servings of fruit, two to four servings of grain, and two servings of dairy products. Using this menu plan you’ll have a plan that is low in fat, sodium and sugar. If you don’t add the fat, sodium or sugar, they won’t be part of this menu. Use herbs and other vegetables, such as onions, bell peppers and celery to season your food.
What counts as a serving?
Whole grain bread, cereal, rice, pasta, bagels and muffins
1 slice of whole grain bread
About 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, corn grits, oatmeal, cream of wheat or pasta
1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
1/2 cup of other vegetables cooked or raw
3/4 cup of vegetable juice
1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
Milk, yogurt and cheese group
1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese (such as cheddar)
2 ounces of processed cheese (such as American)
Beef, fresh pork, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts
2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
1/2 cup of cooked dry beans or 1/2 cup of tofu
2 1/2-ounce soy burger or 1 egg counts as 1 ounce of lean meat
2 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/3 cup of nuts
Butter, oil, margarine: 1 teaspoon
Salad dressing: 2 tablespoons
Meat, chicken, fish: 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards, or the palm of a woman’s hand
Pasta, rice, oatmeal, potatoes, cooked vegetables: half a cup, or the size of a tennis ball
Bagel or muffin: 1 ounce, or the size of a ping-pong ball
Cheese: 1 ounce, or the size of a woman’s thumb
Butter, oil, margarine: 1 teaspoon, or the size of a stamp
Salad dressing: 2 tablespoons, or the size of a standard ice cube
Raw vegetables: 1 cup, or the size of a baseball
Anyone can be a great cook. Cooking by definition is “To prepare food for eating by applying heat.” Anyone can do that. The best cooking methods include boiling, microwaving, stir-frying, steaming, stewing and roasting.
Boiling foods can cause some of their nutrients to leach into the cooking water. Most of the time this liquid we called “pot liquor” is just discarded. This “pot liquor” with all of those nutrients can be used to season other meals.
Microwaving uses a minimal amount of water and will preserve your food’s flavor. You should moisten your food with water, cover and microwave in something that is microwave safe. I never use plastic.
You should stir-fry in a preheated wok or sauté pan over medium to high heat until your food is cooked to your liking. This type of cooking exposes your food to heat for a short period of time insuring your food’s nutrients are preserved.
Steaming is a little better than boiling, but just like boiling the nutrients can leach into the cooking water. This “pot liquor” with all of those nutrients can also be used to season other meals.
Stewing is just like boiling. Unlike boiling the “pot liquor” is part of the meal.
Roasting is great for making a whole meal in one pan. The “pot liquor” is part of the meal. When roasting you should use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature has reached 350℉.
Next week I’ll show you how to cook three great meals.
If you have a fitness question or concern, write to “Tips to be Fit,” PO Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Past articles can be found at www.phillytrib.com by searching “Tips to be Fit.”