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National Nutrition Month Series: Healthy Cooking 101 

For the final installment of our National Nutrition Month Series, we’ll be focusing on healthy cooking! A very common barrier that I hear when it comes to eating a balanced diet, is that it just “doesn’t taste good”. However, healthy does not have to mean bland or boring! There are hundreds of ways to include delicious foods while also focusing on balance and moderation. Let’s talk about a few basics with healthy cooking, as well as discuss a few creative ways to keep our food flavorful, balanced, and fun.

Cooking Method Basics

There are many ways to prepare your favorite foods, including baking, grilling, sauteing, frying, steaming, roasting, boiling, and more. It is generally recognized that the “healthiest” ways to prepare foods are steaming, baking, grilling, or boiling. This is due to the fact that less (if any) saturated fat is used in the cooking process. It’s also relatively easy to include healthy unsaturated fats with these cooking methods! Deep frying, on the other hand, will lead to a large amount of excess fat in the recipe.  

Try to chose “leaner” cooking methods more often, as well as focus on lean and plant proteins as often as you can! This can positively impact your heart health, inflammation, and energy! 

A quick note on Air Fryers: I absolutely love my air fryer, and use it for many different meals and snacks. If you are a fan of crispy textures and quick, easy, recipes that are leaner than traditional fried recipes, it may be a good idea to look into a good quality air fryer! Here’s one of my all time favorite recipes, involving salmon: Air Fryer Salmon with Maple Soy Glaze

Oils, Dressings, and Marinades

Many people ask me what the best oils are to use with cooking. The answer often lies in what type of cooking or baking you are doing! The picture below shows the smoke points of popular cooking oils. The higher the smoke point, the safer that oil is to cook with. If the smoke point is lower, than that oil should only be used for low heat cooking or for something like a salad dressing. My two favorite high heat oils are Avocado Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

When it comes to dressings and marinades, the number one thing I suggest paying attention to is salt content (and in some cases, added sugar content). Many dressings and marinades are high in sodium or added sugars, so do your best to find brands and flavors that are a bit lower. Some of my favorite lower sodium and lower added sugar brands are:
– Cindy’s Kitchen
– Primal Kitchen
– Annie’s
– Bolthouse Farms
– Newman’s Own (their avocado oil dressing line is the lowest, the classic line is comparable to most other brands!)

If you have a favorite dressing or marinade that is a bit higher in sodium or sugar, do your best to moderate the amount that you use. Another great option is to make your own! Here’s a simple recipe: Everyday Salad Dressing

Spices and Herbs

There are hundreds of thousands of spice and herb combinations to try to liven up your at-home cooking. Not to mention, many spices and herbs have excellent health benefits when they are used in cooking.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite spice combinations (that are low sodium as well!)

And here are a few of the known benefits of popular spices!


Sneaking in the Veggies

Another one of my favorite tips to up your vegetable intake is to “hide” your veggies. This is especially helpful if you (or someone you cook for) are not a super fan of them! This can be as simple as chopping a veggie up small to include in a sauce or sauté, or blending it in a smoothie.
Here are a few great examples of “hidden” veggies:
Chocolate smoothie with frozen cauliflower (have no fear, you cannot taste it!)
Veggie pasta sauce
Hearty veggie soup

Outside of cooking, it is also a great idea to snack on veggies during the day to help you get a bit more. Something I love to do is have a crudités platter out while I’m cooking dinner so I can sneak in a few more! This is especially helpful if the dinner on the menu for that night isn’t veggie heavy.

While National Nutrition Month is coming to a close, we can celebrate healthy eating habits all year round! Keep your eye out for additional blogs on healthy eating, as well as events and talks at Natural Wellness Corner. You can also request an appointment with one of our nutrition experts to learn more today!

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