I have noticed a great difference in the quality of fresh food that is sold at the grocery stores and have changed my buying and cooking habits because of it. I think it is more of a challenge to cook healthy foods than it has ever been because; of the way our food is grown and processed. I have noticed more and more people having to change their diets because of food allergies. This poses another health issue because they loose some vital nutrients in the process.
This instructable will share methods on how to purchase, combine foods, prepare, and cook differently to get healthier benefits from the food you eat.
Step 1: Fruit and Vegetables
Tips on washing and storing fruits and vegetables:
Most people recommend not washing fruits and vegetables before using them because it causes them to spoil more quickly but with more stories of produce and meat recalls; I am wondering about contamination and it might be a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables and fresh meat packages before storing in the refrigerator with a few exceptions like mushrooms, delicate fruit like strawberries and raspberries, and herbs. Always dry them to prevent moisture from causing mold. Another way I prevent contamination is to place all produce, cheese, and fresh meats in bags at the store. I have seen a lot of people place raw meats (in the meat package) directly into their shopping carts. Have you ever picked up a package and got blood on your hands? I have and that is when I started placing all the fresh meats into plastic bags at the store.It may sound extreme but I think about how if it gets on my hands from handling a package of meat it is then transferred to the grocery cart and remains there until someone cleans the carts. Do they clean them?
Soak the fruit and vegetables for 1-2 minutes followed by a cold water rinse.
Vegetables grown in the ground should be scrubbed with a vegetable brush, followed by a cold water rinse.
Potatoes should not be refrigerated and should be stored in a cool area with airflow. During the summer months sometimes I have to refrigerate them because they go bad quickly. If you do store them in the refrigerator allow them to reach room temperature before cooking them. Storing potatoes in the refrigerator causes the starch to convert to sugar and discolors the potato.
Store produce loosely in the refrigerator. If storing in plastic bags punch holes to allow airflow.
Do not store Fruits and vegetables together because fruits give off high levels of ethylene which promotes ripening and can cause vegetables to go bad sooner.
I have always been taught not to refrigerate tomatoes because refrigeration can cause a texture breakdown. I have been leaving my tomatoes out on the counter until they ripen then I will refrigerate them to keep them from going bad. It takes a little time for the texture to break down so at least I have great tasting tomatoes for several days before they are not as tasty.
Bananas should never be refrigerated.
Step 2: Cooking at Lower Temperatures
Steaming fruits and vegetables with a lid retains more of the nutrients than boiling them. If you boil them; reducing the amount of water in the pan will help save more of the nutrients. Spinach is one of those unique vegetables that releases iron that our bodies can use better when it is cooked.
When using a slow cooker cook the meat and broth together for several hours before adding the vegetables. The vegetables do not get over cooked using this method.
Cheaper meats lower temperatures, long and slow is the way to go.
Step 3: Food Combining for Nutrition
Food combining is something to look into. Combining foods together can help you get the most nutrients from the foods you eat. You can get more iron benefits from spinach raw or cooked if you sprinkle lemon juice over the spinach. Hummus with whole grains, rice and beans, spinach and almonds eaten at a meal form complete proteins. Rosemary added to red meats will increase your bodies ability to use the nutrients that are in them.
My friend taught me to include fresh ingredients with every meal. Sometimes I put it over cooked foods.
Step 4: Herbs Spices and Extracts
I buy organic herbs, spices, and extracts when I can because the flavor is so much better. I can't always buy organic so I choose the ones that I use the most often as I can afford. I don't purchase mixed herbs, I mix my own. I purchase smaller containers if I don't use them very often.
Step 5: Utensils
I think the most important utensils are at least two good pans and a good quality set of kitchen knives. They can be costly but worth every penny. I have not always owned them but after I finally invested in them I realized I should have bought one here and one there as I saved money to do so.
Step 6: Menu Planning
When my kids were home I would plan my menu a week in advance. I actually had a two week menu to refer to if I needed to. Planning a menu will save you time and money if you make it a habit. It is a great way to alternate food groups so you get a variety of nutrients. It makes it easier when writing a grocery list.
Step 7: Grocery List
I never go to the grocery store without a list. I don't impulse buy and it saves me time and money. I try to clean my refrigerator a day or two before I buy groceries and note the things that I need for the following week. Fruits and vegetables in season are usually cheaper and healthier. Our bodies change with the climate and we will get the most benefits from the foods we eat if eaten when they are in season.
I avoid shopping over the weekend and purchase fresh produce early in the day.
I shop two to three times a week so I get fresh produce and have less spoilage especially if I am buying organic produce.
Step 8: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts
Using these tips will improve the flavor of your food and make it healthier. I almost forgot to mention that cooking should not be rushed. I find that when I hurry while I am cooking the food is not nearly as good. I cook extra when I have plenty of time and am not rushed. I hope this instructable has given you some useful information that will help you get more nutrition from your food. Thanks for stopping by and do have a splendorous summer~
Runner Up in the
Cooking Basics Challenge