Choosing healthy ingredients is just the start. How you cook your foods is vitally important to developing satisfying flavor while keeping added fat (which can rack up excess calories) in check. The good news? You’re probably already familiar with most of these techniques, and you probably already have all the kitchen equipment you need.
Baking in Parchment Paper
By folding your ingredients (fish is most common) into a parchment parcel and then baking it, you’ll seal in juices — and that means moist and delicious results as well (and just about no washing up!). It’s a super-simple technique, and since your food steams, added fat isn’t needed. Your packet holds in all the juices of the foods, which helps keep many of the water-soluble vitamins in your food. Once your packet has been opened and cooled for a sec, serve the juices over brown rice, quinoa, etc.
The intense heat of grilling builds flavor quickly, but it also does a few things to make your food leaner. Fat melts and drips away from food, and since there is limited contact between your food and the cooking surface you’ll need little (if any) added fat to keep it from sticking. A relatively short cooking time and lack of liquid to means ingredients like vegetables retain more of their nutrients. You can make it a year-round cooking technique by using a stove-top grill pan.
Steaming vegetables keeps them crunchy and vibrantly colored and helps to preserve their nutrients, making them highlights of a meal, not just an afterthought. As a bonus, steaming creates an entirely non-stick environment, which means added fat is unnecessary even with very lean proteins like fish and chicken breast.
A sauté substitute for healthier skillet dinners? Try steam frying. This innovative technique skips the oil and starts by adding veggies to a hot pan. As you cook, add small amounts of liquid while stirring to help foods caramelize without sticking or burning. You can use just plain water for your liquid, or get more flavor from coconut water, broth (homemade is tastiest and usually lower in sodium), fruit or vegetable juices and even beer and wine.
Roasting is a classic method for intensifying the flavor of foods, and it can also be a mouth-wateringly lower calorie one. High heat means foods develop a lightly caramelized exterior for deep, robust flavor. Minimal oil or no oil is required, so you can drizzle on some aromatic olive oil or nut oil afterwards for added flavor.
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