The New Year is a time of making resolutions and that often involves deciding to eat healthier. If you cook at home, this is much easier to do. Why? Because you have all the control when it comes to ingredients and cooking techniques. Whether you’re new to cooking or you just need some help getting things healthier, this article is just what you’ve been looking for. Healthier cooking is a great way to control your weight and improve your overall health at the same time, so now is the perfect time to get into the kitchen and get started.
1. Change the Cooking Fats You’re Using
Your body needs some fats to stay healthy, but the trick is choosing the right kinds. By swapping out the butter or lard for olive oil, you can create delicious meals that contain the right kind of fat for good health.
2. Try Steamed Meals Instead of Fried Ones
Steaming is a great way to cook and keeps you from using too much fat and salt. You can steam lots of foods and that makes it a great choice for veggies, meat, fish and much more.
3. Your Oven is the Prime Place to Cook
When you cook in the oven, you can create flavorful meals that are low in fat and calories. Bake potatoes, veggies and meat for healthy meals all year long.
4. Lay off the Salt Shaker
Too much sodium can lead to elevated blood pressure, which is a contributor to heart disease. Use herbs and spices instead and you won’t even miss the salt.
5. Learn to Make Stir-Fry
The great thing about stir-fry is that it cooks the ingredients quickly without much fat. You can mix and match meats and veggies so you have a new stir-fry all the time.
6. Swap Refined Grains for Whole Ones
Refined grains are not good carbs so you want to avoid them in the coming year. Instead choose 100% whole grain foods so that you benefit from the energy they give you and the nutrients they contain.
7. Try New Fruits and Veggies
Instead of eating the same old fruits and vegetables that you’re used to, try new things a couple of times each month. Next time you get groceries, toss something you’ve never tried before into your cart. You’ll get lots of nutrients and might find a new favorite at the same time.
8. Go Meat-Free a Couple of Days per Week
The right cuts of meat are certainly a healthy part of your diet, but going meat-free allows you to fill up on fruits and vegetables and saves you some money on groceries at the same time.
9. Marinate Your Meats before Cooking
A simple meat marinade adds flavor, reducing the amount of fat and salt your food needs to taste good. It also lets you enjoy leaner cuts of meat without sacrificing the flavor you’re used to.
10. Switch to Low-Fat Dairy so You Don’t Have to Give It up
Instead of giving up your favorite cheese or yogurt, switch to the low-fat version to save fat and calories. You can find low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream and even ice cream at most supermarkets.
11. Cook Less Food
It might sound like a no-brainer, but simply preparing smaller amounts of food helps you eat less, which controls weight and keeps your intake under control.
12. Cut Back on Sweeteners
Just because you want to get healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite treats. Simply swap out the sugar for fruit purees, honey or other healthier options and you can enjoy them in a healthier way.
13. Eat More Fiber
Fiber satisfies your appetite and keeps you feeling full longer. Cook with more beans, lentils and fresh fruits and vegetables and you can control your food intake without having to sacrifice a hearty meal.
14. Make Sure You Keep the Basics on Hand
Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy essentials so that you always have what you need to prepare a healthy meal when hunger strikes.
15. You’ve Got to Have a Plan
Cooking healthier sounds good, but you’ll never make it work without a plan. Decide what you’ll prepare, shop for the ingredients and make time for the prep work and you’ll be cooking healthier in no time.
16. Flavor, Flavor, Flavor
Like I said before, using herbs and spices makes your food flavorful so that cooking at home isn’t boring. Try spices on vegetables, marinades, homemade salad dressings and anything else you want to jazz up.
17. Don’t Get Crazy with Recipes
Learning to cook healthier is a feat in itself, so don’t get wild with recipes that are super complicated or that have a ton of ingredients. Keep it simple and build your skills and confidence as you go.
Are you trying to cook healthier this year? What’s your favorite recipe?