I’ve talked to you before about Cooking Techniques for a Healthy Heart, so this time I’m going to give you some cooking tips. These tips will help ensure that what you’re cooking will be low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, but yet still taste delicious.
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1. Use liquid vegetable oils or nonfat cooking sprays. If you’re cooking or making dressings, you should use oils that are low in saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol. Good choices are canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. I use canola oil and olive oil usually. Remember to use the oil sparingly because it still contains 120 calories per tablespoon.
Don’t use coconut oil, palm oil or palm kernel oil because they are high in saturated fats.
Remember, when you’re using cooking spray, don’t spray it near an open flame. We use Kirland Canola Oil cooking spray, but there are lots of different cooking sprays to choose from.
2. Nonstick cookware is beneficial to use when cooking. You don’t need to use much oil when you use nonstick cookware instead of other pans. I usually only use 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in mine. I don’t use cooking spray in my nonstick cookware though, because the instruction manual recommends against it. It can ruin the nonstick finish. My favorite reason for using this cookware, is the easy cleanup! It’s very easy to rinse things out, rather than having to scrub really hard to get the pan clean.
3. A good tip for cooking fish, is to cook it 10 minutes per inch of thickness. If you wrap the fish in foil, you will need to add 5 minutes to the total cooking time. For frozen fish, it needs to cook 20 minutes per inch of thickness, and add 10 minutes to the total cooking time if cooked in foil. You know your fish is done when it flakes easily when you test it with a fork. I always have a hard time being convinced the fish is done, so my husband checks it for me. Otherwise, we’d have super dry fish!
4. Only leave the chicken skin on when roasting. You need to leave the skin on the chicken when you roast it, in order to keep the moisture in. When it’s done cooking, remove the skin. When you prepare chicken any other way, you should use skinless chicken or remove the skin and fat before cooking. You can use a paper towel to assist in removing the skin because it helps get a better grip. Make sure you clean the cutting surface and utensils really well after cutting raw meat. I’m a big germaphobe so I really make sure and wash it well!
5. Discard all visible fat before cooking meat. I mentioned in tip #4 to do this for chicken, but it’s important to do it for all meat. Most of the meat I use doesn’t have visible fat, but when I buy boneless ribs, there is some fat on them. I always cut it off before I cook it in the crockpot.
6. There is a way to preserve the essence from cooking meat, without also keeping the fat. When meat cooks, the essence drips into the roasting or broiler pan; but the problem is, so does the fat. So, you pour all of the contents of the pan into a dish, cover it, and put it in the refrigerator until the next day. Then, the next day when you take the lid off, the fat is hardened on the top and you can easily take it off, using a spoon. I just did this on Monday after Easter, with our ham sauce. What’s left is a really flavorful sauce, without the fat.
7. Using more vegetables helps cut down on saturated fat. If you use more vegetables, you can use less poultry or meat. This works well in soups, stews, and casseroles. You can also use finely chopped vegetables to help stretch ground poultry or ground meat. I should’ve included that tip in my post on Saving Money Buying Meat Doesn’t Have To Be Hard.
8. Seal natural juices in foods by wrapping them up. Wrapping foods in aluminum foil or parchment before cooking, seals in the natural juices. You can also wrap foods in edible pouches of steamed lettuce or cabbage leaves. Lettuce wraps seem to be very popular nowadays.
9. Cook vegetables only until tender-crisp. If the vegetables are overcooked, they lose flavor, texture, and important nutrients. I have a hard time with this one because my kids and I don’t like the cooked vegetables to still have a little crunch, but my husband does. In fact, I like it when my zucchini gets a little burnt when I sautee it. So, this is one tip I need to work harder on!
10. Keep whole-grain flour in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. I know someone on a gluten free diet and she stores that flour in the refrigerator also.
So, I hope all of these cooking tips help you learn how to prepare heart healthy meals. Once you start cooking this way, it will become second nature and you won’t even have to think about it anymore. I learned all of these cooking tips from The New American Heart Association Cookbook.
What is one of your favorite cooking tips? Also, if you like reading my posts and learn from them, please share them. I would really appreciate it. I would love for more people to learn how to live heart healthy.