Cook Well to Eat Well
By Anita Longan, MS, RDN/LD. Photo courtesy of PhotoDune.
One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to lose weight. Typically, diets and other weight loss gimmicks, though possibly effective in the short term, will not help you keep the weight off. What DOES work, however, is establishing some new habits with respect to eating and moving—habits that are realistic for you to incorporate into your daily life.
What’s going on in your kitchen?
Are you intimidated by the idea of the time and effort it takes to cook? Preparing meals at home is often healthier than eating out and will save money. Whether you are working on weight loss, lowering your cholesterol or just improving overall health for you and your family, here are some areas to think about when cooking healthy at home:
Everyone pitches in.
Involve the whole family when planning meals. You’ll get better buy-in from the pickier members. Establish a set time, once a week, for the family to work on the menu and use the menu to make your grocery list. On less hectic days, plan to cook extra that you can freeze and then use for times when you need something fast and easy. The crock pot works well for busy days, too.
Begin with quality food.
Choose produce that’s local and seasonal, like from your winter garden or local farmer. If you’re at the grocery store, avoid the aisles full of overly processed foods in boxes and cans and stick to the store perimeter where the produce, meats, and dairy are found. Remember, when it comes to produce, fresh is best followed by frozen. Also, canned is better than none!
Bake, stew, or broil instead of frying. We need small amounts of fat at every meal, but frying adds A LOT of fat which translates into A LOT of calories. Include some raw veggies every day, too, as some nutrients absorb easier from plant foods when eaten raw.
Gadgets in Action.
What cooking gadgets are in your kitchen? You’ll want to retire the Fry Daddy or put it in the attic, only bringing it down for special occasions. Some better choices include an air fryer, George Foreman grill, crock pot, microwave, and a vegetable or rice steamer.
Spice it Up!
Keep your pantry stocked with onions, garlic, vinegar, hot sauce and plenty of herbs and spices to add flavor. Getting in the habit of seasoning with these ingredients will help you use less salt.
Have more money than time? If you are busy and can afford it, you may want to try one of the meal delivery companies like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron or Sun Basket. You’ll be mailed recipes and all the ingredients that you need to prepare a meal at home. Using a service like this can help with portion control, too.
If you are still wary of tackling healthy home cooking, consider joining an area cooking class or group.