braising beef on stove
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This slow-cooking method makes meats and many veggies tender and richly flavored. The first step: Brown your food in a pan for a few minutes. You might also hear this called searing. Then add water or broth to the pan, simmer, cover tightly with a lid, and finish cooking on low heat. You can use the leftover liquid to make a sauce that’s full of flavor and nutrients.

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beef chicken carrot stew
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Stewing uses more liquid than braising, but it still makes food tender and flavorful without adding unhealthy fats. First, brown the meat or veggies in a pot, then add broth, wine, water, juice, or stock, put a tight lid on, and cook over low heat. Veggies, meats trimmed of fat, or a mix of both are great in stews.

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photo of salmon baking
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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. One health benefit of this method: You don’t have to add fat to the food when you cook it.

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photo of roasted root vegetables
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Compared to baking, the temperature of the oven is higher when you roast. It’s good for cooking fish or chicken, but it can also give vegetables a crispy, caramelized flavor that can make them a star entree. 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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broiling photo of broiled vegetables
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Broiling turns the outside of your food brown and crispy. You typically do it on a rack under high, direct heat, like in an oven or toaster oven on the broil setting. Using this method on meat allows fat to drip away from what you’ll eat.

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broiling photo of grilled pineapple
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Move beyond burgers and use this method on vegetables, fish, and even some fruits, like pineapple or peaches. The heat beneath the grill rack sears the food, giving it a smoky, nicely charred flavor. An outdoor grill uses wood, charcoal, or gas, but there are indoor options, too. Like broiling, this method lets fat drip off food as it cooks. You can use healthier fats, like olive oil, to keep food from sticking to the grill rack.

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poaching salmon
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You’ve probably heard of poached eggs, but you can cook other foods this way, too, like chicken or fish. This method is all about using water or flavorful liquid, like broth or wine, to gently cook food and keep it moist. Heat the liquid you’re using to a temperature just below boiling. Cook your food either directly in the liquid or in a special spoon or cup meant for poaching.

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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 just a little bit of oil or other liquid over high heat. Chop veggies, meat, or 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 healthy cooking oil, like olive, canola, or peanut, in a pan and cook at a high temperature until food is soft and tender. Boost flavor with herbs, spices, or the juice or zest of a lemon.

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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 liquid. 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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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 a good way to cook vegetables and keep a satisfying crunch. 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 11/18/2022 Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on November 18, 2022


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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 Minesh Khatri, MD on November 18, 2022

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.