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Cooking Methods

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Most animals consume food as it is found in nature. Like food growing on trees, fertile lands or eating other animals. But we humans have advanced to the next level. Not only do we cook food traditionally with fire, instead we have evolved and revolutionised the cooking methods with anything that claims to be quick, less oily and easy to prepare. Unfortunately, in our desperate search towards convenience food we ignore the quality of food that we eventually consume. Though eating raw foods is ideal and it’s what your body metabolises best, it is not possible to attain a lifestyle on raw foods. While cooking can destroy many nutrients, it can even enhance few. In this article I am trying to emphasize on not what you eat, but how you cook it. So let’s touch upon the various methods and machines used for cooking and choose the best from the list.

 

Baking & Roasting- it is typically cooking in an oven. While baking refers to breads, cakes, cookies, pastries (you can bake healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and meats), roasting is a term used mostly for cooking of meat like turkey, lamb etc. If you don’t mount your food with tons of oil and butter, baking & roasting can significantly reduces fat calories since it requires little or no oil. Just brush very little oil on the food, set the right temperature and bake on non stick aluminium foil. Works best! However, overcooking food through these processes can cause loss of many nutrients. Also, this method of using dry heating increases the toxins in food. Small amounts are naturally neutralized by our body, but if you think roasting or baking every food is the healthiest way of eating, you might just want to re-think this cooking process.

 

Broiling-is cooking under direct heat for a short period of time. Its a great way to cook tender meats but not vegetables as they dry out very quickly. To prevent excessive built up of toxins and nutrient loss, marinate the food first and use lots of lime juice or vinegar they act as a protective shield while cooking the meats.

 

Grilling & Barbecuing- is cooking by the application of direct heat. In broiling, the food lies directly under a continuous heat source. In grilling & barbecuing, the food lies directly over the heat source. This method leaves the food crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and intensely flavourful. Cooking food through these processes require minimal oil (making it obviously better than frying). But just because the fat from the meat melts and drips out during these processes, you don’t get the liberty to consume full fat. Remember, trim the meats, use lean cuts to prevent unnecessary extra calories from fat and grill at lower temperatures to reduce toxin formation.

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Steaming– is cooking food in a built up steam.  Steamed vegetables retain better colour , flavor and have more nutrients. Since there is less contact with water and shorter cooking time, certain heat sensitive vitamins like vitamin C and other B vitamins are well retained while steaming.

 

Boiling– is cooking food in boiling water. Many vitamins get migrated from the food into the boiling water. You’ll still benefit from those nutrients if you consume the liquid. The nutrient value of certain boiled vegetables especially for carrots, zucchini and broccoli is higher compared to other cooking processes (even better than serving them raw). Boiling carrots, significantly increases carotenoid levels compared to raw carrots.

 

Frying- I don’t need to explain what frying is bad and you surely know it is the worst method of cooking. It adds fat and calories to food because the food absorbs some of the fat in the pan and the high heat required for frying destroys heat-sensitive vitamins. There are three main methods of frying that is deep-frying, pan frying and stir-frying. While deep frying uses buckets of oil for cooking, pan fry and stir fry can be much more safer methods for cooking. If you cook smartly you require very less oil but the heat destroys many vitamins which eventually reduce the food quality. To prevent complete loss of nutrients, don’t overcook the food and take it off the heat as soon as you can. This can save some nutrients from getting completely destroyed.

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Microwave- it is a fast method of cooking food using short radio waves. Microwave ovens heat small amounts of foods much faster than gas or electric ovens. They are generally used for thawing frozen foods and re-heating leftovers but they can also cook about almost anything. Infact certain nutrients in vegetables are retained better through this process than anyother cooking method. For example, microwaving broccoli is the best way to preserve its vitamin C. However, I would not recommend this urban cooking style for everything that we eat. Eat fresh food and use traditional cooking methods. Also, you need to be careful of the microwave containers in which you heat the food. Using plastic and paper trays can release carcinogenic substances in the food which will only do more harm.

Air fryer- it is the latest trend for making delicious oil-free food at home. Basically air fryers use dry heat which rapidly cooks the food in a short time with minimal or no oil through a fast easy process. Though air fryers can be zero fat, they are not zero calories. Air-fryed potato chips is comparatively better than fired potato chips. But you are still eating large amounts of potato which is start which is carbs which is calories converting to fat. Just because it is ‘air-fryed’ it is not meant to be healthy.

 

The bottom line is there is no one cooking method which is superior for preserving 100 percent of the nutrients. Use multiple methods of cooking to get the best of all worlds. Enjoy them in a variety of ways raw, steamed, boiled, baked and grilled. If you restrict yourself to lean meats and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, you don’t have to worry about the cooking method.

Cooking surely destroys few nutrients but it also enhances some nutrients, it also makes our foods safer by killing microbes and makes it difficult for them to grow and multiply. Many think raw foods are more nutritious than cooked ones. However, some foods are less nutritious when raw. Basically, cooking turns plain ingredients into a wonderful meal!

For me cooking is therapeutic.

When better health is the ultimate goal, moderation should be the mantra.

 

Stay Healthy!

 

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