Cooking your meals at home will not only save you money but it can also save you hundreds of calories… when you cook healthy. Making healthy meals is not as hard as you may think. At home, are already in control of the ingredients. Don’t waste calories on frying your foods. Use these simple tips to make grilling, roasting, and sautéing your meals simple and delicious.
Start with a few easy go-to recipes that you love. Plan your meals for the week ahead and go shopping on the weekend. Prep yourself for a healthy week by pre-cooking and chopping the meals you are going to eat during your busy week.
9 simple tips for healthy cooking
How to cook fish
Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and packs tons of other healthy benefits. However, there are so many types of fish to enjoy that it can be difficult to know exactly how to cook each. Here are some basic rules of cooking fish.
Salmon is a fatty fish that is less likely to dry out, which makes it great for beginner cooks. The best way to cook this fish is to drizzle it in olive oil on each side (remember, drizzle, not drench), sprinkle each side with some light seasoning of your choice, and bake it at 400 degrees. Check your fish after about 8 minutes to see if it flakes. If so, then it’s likely that it’s done or close to it. If you’re not 100% sure that it’s done after the 8 minutes, then allow an extra few (2 or 3) minutes for the fish to bake through and remove from the oven.
Other fish such as tilapia, orange roughy or flounder can be pan-fried (they healthy way to fry). The best way to achieve perfected pan-fried fish is to dry excess water from the fish with a paper towel. Once dry, use a mixture of olive oil and seasonings of your choice to lightly coat each side of the fish. Lay one side into the pan and let it cook until light brown (about 2-3 minutes), then flip to the other side and repeat.
With those techniques you’ll be well on your way to making a great fish dinner.
How to stir-fry
The trick to a great to stir-fry is to remember not to put all the ingredients into the pan at once. No one wants a plate mixed full of overdone shrimp or chicken and underdone vegetables. Here’s the perfect way to make a mean stir-fry.
Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil (not olive oil since it burns at high heat) in the wok and add the meat of your choice. Cook the meat thoroughly, but be sure not to over-cook it. If you’re cooking with shrimp or chicken, cook it until it is no longer translucent (see-through) and pink. If you’re cooking with beef, cook until it’s medium done.
Remove the meat from the wok once it is done and add in the vegetables. Remember, the more crunchy the vegetable, the longer it needs to cook. Add in veggies like onions, green peppers and carrots first, saving veggies such as mushrooms and celery for last.
Once you’ve cooked the veggies, add the meat back into the wok, add some low-sodium soy sauce and whatever other flavors you desire and cook for another 2-3 minutes to evenly distribute the flavor and enjoy!
How to bake chicken
Who doesn’t love a good boneless, skinless chicken breast as the main course to a meal? However, baking chicken can be scary for someone not familiar with the meat. Traditionally, cooks would leave the skin on when cooking because the skin traps in natural juices that will keep your chicken from getting dry and leaving the bone in will give your chicken more flavor and help it cook evenly. However, you can make adjustments to your cooking technique for boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cook the breast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes (give or take 10 minutes to account for the thickness of the chicken).
How to cook steak
Steak is widely desired as a main course at dinner. There are so many cuts, flavors and grades of steak that you could have it every night and make it taste different. But a steak is only as good as the cook who makes it. Steak can be cooked on the stove. Make sure each side of the steak is removed of excess water, flavor both sides with the seasoning of your choice and then place into a well heated (and evenly heated) pan coated with coconut oil. Be sure the pan is hot enough to sear the steak and dry enough as not to create a stew-like broth in the pan.
If the steak is thick enough, after you sear it (about 6 minutes on each side) finish it off in the oven at 375 degrees for about 5 additional minutes. If the steak is not more than 1 and 1/2 inches thick, then skip the last step of placing it in the oven and instead cook on each side for 5 to 6 minutes and enjoy your perfectly cooked steak.
How to cook scallops
Scallops are much like shrimp in that if you cook them right, they can add a great tasting punch of protein to any meal. The trick to cooking mouth watering scallops is to keep the temperature on your stove on medium not high. Extreme heat tends to dry out the scallop, making it rubbery. Next, be sure that your scallops are dry before you begin cooking. If you notice that the scallops begin to bubble up with moisture as you’re cooking them, remove them from the heat, take a paper towel and blot the excess water off and continue cooking. Scallops don’t take too long to cook (about 2 or 3 minutes per side) and once the middle of the scallop is opaque, remove them from the heat and add a dash of salt, pepper and lemon.
How to cook scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs often get overcooked. The trick to softer, moist scrambled eggs is remove the eggs from heat while they are still slightly wet.. Continue to fold them over with a spatula until the eggs resemble the consistency you like. Garnish with basil or a bit of salsa and viola!
How to cook tofu
Tofu doesn’t have to be a mystery. This versatile, vegan dish can take on many flavors depending on how you prepare it. First, begin with a tofu that is extra firm or firm. Using the softer tofu is only recommended for smoothies and other blended foods. Next, make sure to drain the tofu (Are you recognizing a pattern of drying excess water when cooking yet?). The best method to drain tofu is to place a clean dish towel or paper towel on a cutting board and place the tofu on top. Then place another dish towel or paper towel on top of the tofu and top that with a plate or cutting board. The final step is to place something heavy on top of the plate or cutting board to press the excess water out of the tofu. If you notice your towels are getting too soaked, replace them and continue the process for a total of about 20 minutes.
Once that is done, you can bake or pan-fry your tofu in much the same way that you would chicken or steak (see above).
How to cook a turkey burger
Unlike the Burger Lounge, most homemade burgers are made too dry. To avoid over drying your burger, use something to add moisture to the burger mix like One or two egg whites. This will also help the burgers hold their form. Adding a sauce to the turkey burger mix works well too. Try barbecue sauce or A1 sauce. Cook the burgers until one side is a caramel brown, flip, and cook until the other is the same. Be sure your burger reaches an inside temperature of 155 degrees, remove from heat, and wait until the temp reaches 160. Only then is it considered done.
How to make whole grain pasta
It’s very easy to overcook pasta. You can avoid overcooking by filling a pan with water and a just a dap of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking once added. Bring the water and oil to a rapid boil, then drop in the pasta. Continue at a boil for about 2 minutes and then turn the heat down a notch. The water should still boil just at a little slower rate. Stir occasionally keep the pasta from sticking.
Each box of pasta has a suggested cooking time (around 8 minutes) but check your pasta around minute 6. Grab one noodle, bite into it. If you like the texture, remove it from the heat. If you don’t, continue to boil for another minute or two and then remove from heat and drain. Another tip: Don’t rinse the pasta after you remove it from the water. Just drain, allow to cool for about 4 minutes and then enjoy.
Cooking doesn’t have to be scary or confusing. By following this simple guide you’ll be on your way to becoming a fabulous home chef in no time.
Combine these healthy cooking methods with a fun exercise program. Come out and play in our boot camps for women in San Diego.