When it comes to optimal overall health, consuming nutritious foods cannot only help you to feel and look better, it can also make you feel happier and healthier. Cooking without fattening oils and using clean, high-quality cookware that does not leak toxins into your food is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Below, we will discuss the various methods of food preparation and which pieces of cookware are the best to use.
Baking: When it comes to truly healthier cooking, baking is the preferred method. Baking your food allows you to retain its vital nutrients without having to use fatty oils. For example, it is much healthier to coat a chicken breast in Panko breadcrumbs and bake it in the oven than deep-frying it in artery-clogging vegetable oil. This not only makes the dish healthier overall, it can help you maintain a healthy body weight by reducing fat intake.
Boiling: Some vegetables contain nutrients known as water-soluble vitamins, which dissolve in water. By submerging these vegetables in water, some of these important nutrients can seep out. This can cause a reduced nutritional value, especially during the boiling process. A study published in the Journal of Food Science reports that because many nutrients are heat sensitive, exposure to boiling water for prolonged periods will destroy them.
Frying: Depending on the type of oils used, this is the unhealthiest way to prepare foods. Deep frying foods in vegetable oils can cause weight gain and various other health complications, whereas lightly frying or sautéing a piece of fish in coconut oil can actually be beneficial.
Steaming: Steaming is known to being the gentlest way to cook foods because they are placed over boiling water instead of in it. This is also considered one of the healthiest ways to prepare foods because it does not require adding any oils. Steaming foods helps to better retain its flavor, texture, shape, color and many nutrients.
Steaming food requires a deep pot that will allow a smaller pot to be placed on top of it. The larger pot contains boiling water that will be used to heat the foods placed in the smaller one.
"It's important to choose non-toxic and safe cookware as carefully as selecting healthy foods."
Now that we have discussed the various methods of food preparation let us take a look at cookware choices, and which ones are best suited for each method.
Cast iron: Cast iron pans are a popular choice as they have been used for centuries for baking and stovetop cooking. They are known for their even heat distribution and durability. Cast-iron cookware has also been shown to help increase the amount of iron in the body, as it slowly seeps off the cookware into your food in minute amounts. This is especially important for children, who are often deficient in this important nutrient.
The US Food and Drug Administration states that the iron leeched into food from cast-iron cookware is considered a healthy food additive and is toxin-free. The leading American producer of high-quality cast-iron cookware is Lodge Manufacturing. Because cast-iron cookware retains a tiny bit of the flavor from previously cooked foods, many individuals state the foods taste better.
Cast-iron is best for frying and sautéing foods such as meat and vegetables. Because it does not contain any plastic parts, it can also be used in the oven to bake foods such as chicken breasts.
Stainless steel: Stainless steel frying pans, pots and various pieces of cookware are the most popular choices. Stainless steel is incredibly easy to clean and does not react to either alkaline or acidic foods, making it more versatile than many other choices. Many individuals believe that stainless steel products are poor at conducting heat. This is only true for cheaply made pieces that have no insulation in the bottom of the product.
High-quality brands, such as Saladmaster, feature a multilayered bottom which produces a convection effect, heating your food more thoroughly and cooking with an even temperature. Saladmaster cookware also helps to strengthen the body’s immune system by retaining 93% of food’s essential vitamins and minerals. Their products are made in America and offer a lifetime warranty.
Stainless steel cookware comes in many shapes and sizes, making it widely versatile. Stainless steel baking pans are available for dishes such as lasagna, casseroles and cakes. Stockpots and saucepans are available to help you prepare healthy stews, soups and sauces. If you are looking to fry foods, you can also find a wide selection of stainless steel frying pans. Stainless steel cookware is ideal to use in steaming.
Teflon coated/ nonstick: There been many arguments over the past few years as to whether Teflon coated cookware poses a health risk. A study published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants examined 26 nonstick cookware products to determine if any toxic chemicals were released during use. The researchers determined that no toxic chemicals were present in foods prepared in the tested cookware.
Although the EPA states that nonstick cookware is safe to use, it can produce fumes that have been known to make individuals feel as if they have the flu. As a nonstick product begins to breakdown, pieces of Teflon can flake off into your food, which can cause abdominal discomfort in some individuals.
Nonstick cookware is available for any type of use, such as saucepans, bake ware and frying pans.
Glass: Glass cookware, such as Pyrex, is a good choice for individuals with hectic lifestyles. This cookware has been specially tempered so that it can go from the refrigerator to the oven without any worries of breakage. It has been proven to be healthy to use with no worries of chemicals leaching into your food. It does require a little more maintenance than some of the other cookware, such as not cleaning it with an abrasive pad.
It must be handled gently in order to prevent cracks chips and breakage. Glass cookware is better suited for baking foods in the oven, as opposed to stovetop frying or boiling.
Preparing healthy foods for your family depends heavily upon the method you choose. Whereas deep frying foods is considered to be generally unhealthy, methods such as steaming, baking and boiling without the use of excessive oils or fats are ideal. Choosing the correct cookware for your cooking methods can help ensure your foods turn out evenly cooked and delicious every time.