braising beef on stove
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The first step: Brown your food in a pan for a few minutes to seal in juices. You might also hear this called searing. Then add water or broth to the pan, and finish off the cooking process by simmering in a wet heat. You can use the leftover liquid to make a sauce that’s full of flavor and nutrients. Most people cook meat this way, but it works on veggies, too.

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beef chicken carrot stew
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Cover uncooked food in broth, wine, water, juice, or stock, put a tight lid on the pot, and cook over low heat. Veggies, meats, or a mix of both are great in stews.

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spoon holding boiled pasta
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When you boil food, you cook it in water that’s hot enough for lots of bubbles to rise to the top and break. It’s common to cook pasta this way, but you can boil almost anything, from eggs to veggies to meats.

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poaching salmon
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It’s likely you’ve heard of poached eggs, but you can cook other foods this way, too, like chicken or fish. Heat the liquid you’re using to a temperature just below boiling. Cook your food gently, either directly in the liquid or in a special spoon or cup meant for poaching.

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baking chicken in oven
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Hot air inside your oven does the job here. Baking is good for more than just cakes, pies, and cookies. It’s also an option for preparing seafood, poultry, lean meat, vegetables, and fruits.

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broiling chicken nuggets in toaster oven
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You typically broil food on a rack under high, direct heat, like in an oven or toaster oven on the broil setting. Direct heat turns the outside of your food, especially meats, crispy and brown.

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grilling hamburgers
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The heat comes from below the food, which is on a rack. An outdoor grill uses wood, charcoal, or gas-heated rocks, but there are indoor options, too. This method lets fat drip off food as it cooks.

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stir frying vegetables
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You’ll need a large pan or wok for this method, which cooks food in oil or other liquid over high heat. Chop veggies, meat, or even tofu into pieces of roughly the same size so they heat evenly. Stir or toss as you cook so they don’t stick to the pan.

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sauteing onions
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This technique is a good option for veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, or zucchini that have a lot of moisture in them. Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a pan and cook at a high temperature until food is soft and tender.

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steaming broccoli
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This method uses the steam from heated liquid to cook foods. Fill a pan with liquid and heat it to boiling. Place your food in a steaming basket or other container with holes over the water. Add flavor to the liquid to help give food more taste as it steams.

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pan broiling steak
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Pan Broil

You’ll use a hot frying pan to cook over high heat. It’s different than frying because it’s done dry -- you don’t put oil or fat in the pan. When you pan broil meat, pour off any fat that pools during cooking.

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roasting chicken and potatoes
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Like baking, this method uses hot air inside the oven to cook food. But the temperature is higher when you roast. Use a baking sheet or a roasting pan. If your food is fatty, put a rack inside a pan to catch the drippings.

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simmering sausage mushrooms onions
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It’s a lot like boiling. Both involve cooking food in liquid that’s hot enough to bubble. But when you simmer, you keep the boil tamer, so it only bubbles gently. To get liquid to a simmer, bring it to a full boil, then turn down the heat. You want the food to cook at a lower temperature.

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frozen sous vide packages
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Sous Vide

Your veggies may keep more of their nutrients if you cook them sous vide. The term means "under vacuum" in French. Food in vacuum-sealed pouches is cooked in water at a specific temperature. You can get a device made for sous vide cooking to do it at home, or you can use a rice cooker, slow cooker, or countertop roaster.

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blanching asparagus
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You may hear this method called parboiling. It’s best for vegetables. You boil the food in water for a short amount of time, usually about 30 seconds. After you take it out, you quickly put it in ice water to stop the cooking process.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/02/2018 Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on March 02, 2018


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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Culinary Lingo,” “Learn the Language: Cooking Vocabulary.”

Mayo Clinic: “Healthy-cooking techniques: Boost flavor and cut calories.”

University of Hawaii at Manoa: “Winning Ways in the Kitchen.” “Cooking Terms.”

American Heart Association: “Don't fry! Give Healthy Cooking Methods a Try.”

West Virginia Department of Education: “Healthy Cooking Methods.”

Food Science & Nutrition: “Nutritional advantages of sous-vide cooking compared to boiling on cereals and legumes: Determination of ashes and metals content in ready-to-eat products,” “Viva Sous Vide!”

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on March 02, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.