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Healthy Cooking Tricks

How learning to cook can help you resolve your issues with food.

Healthy Cooking Tip #3: Keep it simple, sweetheart!

Using just these basic healthy cooking tools, ingredients, and pre-made foods, you can make any of the following healthy meals in minutes: 

  • Stir fry. Fix quick-cooking rice or use a rice cooker (some can even be set to start on a timer, just like your trusty coffee pot), and serve with stir fry made with your pre-prepped chicken and vegetables and your favorite spices.
  • Pasta. Cook whole wheat pasta and serve with pre-made marinara sauce. Round out the meal with a salad of pre-washed and prepped greens. Sandwiches. Grill chicken breast and serve on a pita or whole grain sandwich, again using pre-prepped chicken and veggies.
  • Beans and rice. Cook black or pinto beans, and eat with rice, salsa and a salad.
  • Soup. Here are two quick recipes from Carol and Bob Hildebrand:
    • Quick chicken soup: Saute pre-cut chicken breast, garlic and onion in bottom of a soup pot with a small amount of olive oil. Add chicken or vegetable soup stock, chopped basil, and either a half bag of your favorite frozen vegetables or the equivalent amount of pre-cut vegetables, and simmer.
    • Carrot ginger soup: Saute pre-cut minced fresh ginger, onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil. Add finely chopped carrots (can be done in food processor ahead of time), saute a few minutes more, add chicken or vegetable stock to cover, and simmer until the carrots are soft. Puree the whole thing in a food processor and serve topped with a dollop of yogurt. Add a salad and some crusty rolls and you're all set!
  • Dessert. Serve fresh fruit anytime for a quick and nutritious snack or dessert. For a special treat, try one of the following ideas from Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Wellness Institute in Chicago and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association:
    • Quick apple crisp. Microwave chopped apples topped with sprinkled cinnamon. Serve with a sprinkle of rolled oats and sugar.
    • Grilled fruit. Grill pineapple, peach or banana, and top with a small scoop of ice cream.
    • Fruit 'n' yogurt sundaes. Spoon low-fat yogurt and chopped fruit into a sundae glass. Pile high, and top with a cherry and reduced-sugar chocolate syrup.

Healthy Cooking Tip 4: Fold in flavor.

Garlic and onion add flavor depth to any dish, Hildebrand says, and you can up the ante even more with spices like basil, oregano and cilantro--fresh, if possible. A sprinkle of chopped cilantro over black bean soup, for example, adds punch to the entire dish, she says. And salt, when used judiciously, brings out flavor like nothing else.

To save on fat and calories, use low-fat plain yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise, and buy low-fat cheese and milk instead of full-fat versions, says O'Rourke. Add flavor to vegetables with low-fat cheese, nuts, salad dressing or margarine with no trans fat; then add herbs and spices. Blatner suggests an Italian blend on green beans, curry on cauliflower, cumin on sauteed bell peppers, and lemon pepper on broccoli.

And there you have it: 4 healthy cooking tricks for a lifetime of good taste. Bon appetit!

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Reviewed on February 04, 2011

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