Many studies suggest that microwaves are bad for our food, but also not all cooking methods and techniques are as healthy as you’d want them to be. Here is a list of healthy cooking methods.
For all of the talk about the healthiest ingredients, very little attention seems to be paid to the manner in which food is cooked. In reality, the cooking method can make or break the nutritional value and net health effect of a dish. Even broccoli can be horribly unhealthy when deep fried, and adding a small amount of oil can push an otherwise somewhat healthy dish into nutritional purgatory.
Luckily, the healthiest cooking techniques are often the simplest. Fire on its own neither helps nor hurts the nutritional content of an ingredient. Other more elaborate cooking techniques can have varying effects on everything from nutrient content to fat composition.
Healthy Cooking Methods
Baking: Perhaps the simplest and healthiest option, baking does not require that you add additional fat to the dish when cooking. You can also add potatoes and vegetables to your protein of choice to be roasted alongside for extra nutritional value.
Braising: An extremely flavorful option that is similar to baking with a few minor twists. Braising involves first browning the ingredient on the stovetop, and then slowly cooking it immersed in a rather small amount of liquid (broth or water). This slow cooking phase can take place in an oven, Dutch oven, or even crock-pot.
Grilling and Broiling: These are two similar cooking methods. Broiling and grilling both involve exposing the ingredient to direct heat. When grilling outdoors, the food is placed on a rack above either charcoals or gas-heated rocks.
When broiling indoors (often times on the top rack of the oven), the food is placed on a broiling rack and situated below direct heat. Both of these methods allow for fat to drip away from the food, thus effectively reducing its total fat content.
Poaching: Poaching is the process of simmering ingredients in some liquid (water, broth, vinegar, juice, etc.) until it is cooked throughout. This can be done on the stove, where the ingredient is immersed in the broth and cooked until tender.
Steaming: Another one of the healthiest options, steaming is the process of cooking food by suspending it in a perforated container above boiling or simmering liquid. If the liquid is seasoned or flavored, the steam can actually flavor the ingredient as it cooks.
Other options: Many of these cooking methods have variants. These variants can be indigenous methods or crafty spins on common techniques. For example, the George Forman grill claims to eliminate fat by cooking the food from both sides at an angle that allows fat to escape and drip down into a pan.
Foods to Avoid
There are other cooking techniques you should avoid. Deep frying, especially when performed at fast food restaurants with questionable oil, is extremely unhealthy. Frying food in a pan even with a small amount of oil can add a tremendous amount of fat.
For example, each tablespoon of oil used adds approximately 100 calories to your food. Searing something in butter or lard is also an easy way to turn an otherwise healthy dish into a nutritional nightmare. You have to be careful how you cook your food!