Posted 11 August 2009 - 11:46 AM
Ways to get started cooking healthy meals - Under development. This is copied from a response I made to someone's thread. Yeah, I know it can use some reorganization...
On the cheap, with minimal equipment, supplies, time etc.
The best cooking methods are those that do not involve browning or charring, especially regarding meats, and don't involve overcooking or washing away vitamins in veggies.
grill/broiling - But minimize browning in meats
There are plenty of things you can make that hardly take any time. I'm a huge fan of one dish, one process cooking. Mostly so I don't have much to clean up, but also nowadays, to conserve energy and preserve nutrients.
Can you boil water? You can boil or poach chicken or make soups. Steam veggies and fish. Get a steamer basket to insert into your pots. These are usually stainless steel, but they now make silicone versions that are easier to clean. And of course, there are the Asian bamboo baskets.
Do you have a broiler? You can put veggies and fish or shrimp on the same pan and pop in the broiler and it can be done in less than 5 minutes. You can broil anything you'd grill. You could also get a George Foreman or similar electric grill. Note: The terms Broil and grill mean the opposite in the U.K. vs the U.S. In the U.S. broil means under the heat, grill means over the heat.
Do you have a freezer? Buy veggies frozen and just pour some out of a bag. They have blends of frozen veggies chopped up and ready for soup, grilling/broiling, or the basis of recipes like the 'cajun trinity' of bell pepper, onion and celery or the 'French trinity' of onion, carrot and celery. I highly recommend keeping bags of frozen chopped greens on hand to add to soups, pasta sauce, cooked legumes, etc. Get bags, not boxes so it's easier to use just what you need. Plus it helps you tell if it's ever been defrosted.
Anyway the frozen veggies are cheap and often on sale. The bags of mixed veggies were on sale for $1 each yesterday.
Of course, by fresh whatever you prefer fresh and can get eaten before it spoils. I personally, am only able to juggle so many perishable foods. I'm getting better at it though. Some things last longer than others of course. Like apples, sweet potatoes, usually hard things.
Lemons and limes are great to have for seasoning. The best seasoning there is, I say. I squeeze some on veggies, fish, chicken, especially when in tacos, and in soups, especially hispanic style soups. There's some evidence that they can help fight the free radicals that may have been created in cooking from bad fats or from charring. Lemon also reduces the need for salt as citrus stimulates the same taste buds or something as salt.
Fish and shrimp are not so cheap, but watch for sales on wild salmon. Also, most seafood departments will steam cook anything for you for free. So you can buy some salmon, have them cook it and all you have to do is go home and eat it. Buy a bag of baby spinach or salad greens to go with it.
Canned salmon and mackerel are cheap and low in mercury, unlike canned tuna. Use like canned tuna or make fish cakes with them. They do have bones and a bit of skin which you can either pick out or ignore what it looks like and stir it in. The bones are soft and it's all edible and good for you. Fish bones have all the nutrients your bones need. Great source for calcium.
Herbs and Spices -
You can buy blends of spices and dried herbs cheap, like Italian Seasoning which has all the basic dry Italian herbs in one bottle. Bay Seasoning for seafood, which you can get free in little packets in the seafood department. Menudo Seasoning is a good one if you have Hispanic products in your markets. It's oregano, red pepper flakes and salt. My stores all have them in small plastic envelopes for .99 - 1.99. Of course with any you end up using a lot, buy them individually, buy them fresh, grow them, etc.
Use the least reactive materials which leach the least amount of chemicals into your food or water. These are glass, ceramics (not glazed with anything toxic) and stainless steel. I recommend you drink from glass as much as possible, use stainless steel pots, pans and baking dishes, and pyrex bowls and baking dishes.
Pyrex glass cooking pots are also good and they are easy to clean. I see them in thrift stores all the time. Don't get the skillets though. That bumpy bottom makes things stick.
There's a new type of nonstick pan out that's not supposed to emit VOCs and be safer at high heat. Martha Stewart has one available at Macy's. Get it when Macy's has coupons.
Also, look through all these new silicone cooking things. They have a steamer insert out now that you just stuff into the pot. It's much easier to clean than those collapsible steamer baskets that can get stuff stuck between the petals and can rust.
Knives- You only need two. A Chef's knife or equivalent like a Japanese santoku knife and a smaller paring knife.
Cooking Oil - Now this is controversial. But just for preventing foods from sticking when sauteing, grilling, broiling etc, I say the most important thing is to use an oil with a high enough smoking point and NOT a highly processed fat like margarine or crisco. Oils with high smoking points are animal fats like butter or ghee, coconut oil, grape seed, canola, peanut oil, non EV Olive Oil. Oils should be in dark bottles or in tins. Store in the dark.
But then there's the controversy over the healthfulness of some plant oils. You really don't want to consume a lot of polyunsaturated fats which means most vegetable oils and includes canola oil, corn oil, generic vegetable oil. Read more about cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and cooking oils.
And there are some oils that should be heated very little to not at all such as EVOO, walnut oil, flax seed oil, sesame oil. These are used in salad dressing or added after cooking. EVOO can be used in low heat cooking but it reduces the nutritional benefit.
Status: Clear after 30 years. Wow, I guess it's been 6 years, now.
[ Story: Severe Acne since I was 10. 10+ years of Dermatologists, Antibiotics, topicals and ACCUTANE did nothing. Discovered oranges triggered the worst of my cystic acne = about 70% improvement. Tried some nutrient supplements like B-complex with zinc and C, saw palmetto and a BHA like the aspirin mask = more improvement, a lot less oily. Then, Diet changes = Clear.
Regimen: Anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, blood sugar stabilizing diet and supplements (for hormones, inflammation, aging, health). No soap or other cleanser except for hand washing! Water only or Oil cleanse. Aloe Vera mixed with niacinimide and a high linoleic acid oil for moisturizer and reduce pigmentation.
Diet effects acne in so many ways: hormone balance, inflammation, Insulin levels, digestion, allergies and intolerances, liver function, adrenal function, SHBG levels, sebum quality, cell function and turnover, nutrient deficiencies, body fat, etc. Basic advice: Eat, sleep, supplement and exercise like you are a diabetic. And eat real food!
For more information, see my Good Things for Acne thread *Moderator edit - Please refer to the board rules (see “Advertising/soliciting”, “Linking” and “Signatures”)*
When you eat stuff, Stuff Happens!