Cooking dinner and eating a hearty meal is an important part of the day for most people. Sitting down with your family to enjoy a delicious homemade meal after a long day of work to discuss the day is great way to bond with your loved ones.
Making your own meals helps you keep track of what you put in your body and allows you to make sure your body gets all that it needs. To help you get the most out of your homemade meals, we’d like to share with you a list of 5 simple tips to make your own cooked meals even healthier!
1. The bad rep of fats
We all know that fats are delicious. Our current society’s diet however contains way too many fats. Here are some tips to help you out reduce your fat consumption for a happy heart.
When consuming fat, opt for good fats rather than bad fats. Over the years, fats have gotten quite a bad reputation, but we should not forget that fats do make up a vital part of a healthy diet. There is however an important distinction to make here.
The good fats that should have a place in your daily diet are the unsaturated plant based fats found for example in nuts and avocados. These fats are much better for your body than animal based saturated fats.
The consumption of unsaturated fats has many health benefits for your body, it’s a source of energy; helps absorb vitamins; has been found to help protect your cardiovascular system; and more.
So when cooking, try to use oils such as olive oil or rapeseed oil when baking instead of butter; choose to eat fatty fish rather than beef; eat a handful of nuts a day.
Use a non-stick frying pan. The use of non-stick frying pans or a thick cast iron pan helps reduce the amount of oil needed for baking if you even need any at all.
Adding some water when cooking instead of oil goes a long way. Some people even go as far as fully excluding oils from cooking. Dry spices especially tend to absorb all available moisture and cause food to stick to the pan. We’ve found over time that adding some water helps a great deal when baking some veg to prevent it from sticking to the pan. It can even substitute oil when stir frying! Just do not forget to add some water in regularly.
2. Leave the skin on!
In cookbooks, recipes we find on Pinterest, or videos we watch on YouTube… Everywhere, we see people peeling their veg when preparing them. But why would you? Most of the vitamins in vegetables are located just underneath the skin. It truly is a waste to throw out all that goodness.
Our second tip is to scrub vegetables instead of peeling them. This will mostly apply to organic veg, as many vegetables tend to absorb the pesticides sprayed on them in their skin.
The skins of most vegetables however is edible! You often hardly realise it’s still there. Even the skin of pumpkin can be consumed! You can just leave it on when baking your pumpkin in the oven (in small parts, or as a whole). It adds an extra texture to the dish and tastes delicious.
If you do want to peel your veg anyway, check out our recipe for a delicious snack made out of vegetable peel.
3. Steamy vegetables
Boiling your vegetables is easy. Put some water in a pan, turn the heat up, set a timer, drain the veg and you’re done! Although it’s not the worst method to prepare your veg, it also isn’t the best.
Many vegetables contain water soluble nutrients, meaning that the nutrients will easily dissolve in water when they are cooked. So a part of the nutrients and some minerals will get washed away when draining your veggies.
To retain most of the nutrients its best to steam your vegetables. We ourselves still have to get in to the habit of steaming our vegetables more often, but steaming your veg will help retain it all their natural goodness.
When you do boil your veg, make sure not to over boil them to minimize the loss in nutrients!
4. Not all carbs are bad
Sure, there are empty carbohydrates out there, but just like with fats, not all carbs are bad! The refined grains spoil it for their whole grain counterparts.
We would recommend to replace your refined grains for whole grain products. Refined grains are basically whole grains that are stripped from most of their goodness. A fair amount of nutrients and fibers are removed during the refinement process.
Many people ingest nowhere near the recommended daily amount of 30 grams of fiber. Opting for whole grain products will significantly increase your fiber intake. A whole grain slice of bread contains already 4 to 8 times as much fiber as white toast!
An increased fiber intake will help keep your digestive system happy and will keep you feeling full for longer.
Surely, not all meals lend themselves as great as the other to whole grain products. We also prefer a nice pandan rice with a curry, or fine flour when making pizzas. Substituting half of your carbs for whole grain products already makes a huge difference in your fiber and nutrient intake!
5. Go for fresh homemade meals!
Buying refined products and ready meals is so easy. You can leave them in your pantry for ages. You can buy multiple meals up front which will allow you to always have something laying around when it’s time to start making dinner, which is ready in just a few minutes.
Processed products include pasta sauce in a bottle, instant mashed potatoes, but also premade spice mixtures for certain dishes.
These refined products are however often high in sugar, saturated fat, sodium, and preservatives such as sulfites. Many are, in addition to all these added ingredients, also stripped of their natural nutrients. As a result, refined products often mostly contain added synthetic nutrients.
When buying your vegetables go for fresh rather than processed! Choosing for fresh products allows you to keep track of what you put into your body.
Living healthier can be so simple. We hope that incorporating these few steps will help you live a healthier life! If you have any simple healthy cooking tips, feel free to share them in the comments below!