Interested in living a healthier lifestyle? Preparing your own food is one of the most effective ways to improve your diet, as pre-packaged or fast food meals can include a deceptive amount of unhealthy ingredients. By cooking meals right at home, you’ll be able to see for yourself what ingredients go into your meal, and adjust for health purposes accordingly.
Just how can you start cooking healthier meals?
Tip #1: Stock up on Healthy Essentials
While you may choose to follow healthy recipes and purchase groceries according to recipe ingredients, there are some healthy staples that can be convenient to have on hand at all times.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean meats like chicken, fish, and ground turkey
- Whole grain rice and pasta
- Olive oil
- Low-sodium vegetable stock
- Low-sodium canned beans
- Whole grain bread
- Diced tomatoes
These are just some of the many healthy items that can help you create a healthy meal on the spot.
Tip #2: Steam or Stir Fry Vegetables
Steaming or cooking vegetables in a skillet atop a stove helps preserve natural color and, more importantly, nutrients. Conversely, boiling or microwaving vegetables causes nutrients to leach into the surrounding water. This water will then be drained, taking valuable nutrients with it.
Tip #3: Replace Packaged Seasonings with Natural Alternatives
Too much sodium can raise blood pressure and over time, lead to serious conditions like heart disease. To minimize your inclusion of sodium into the meals you prepare, consider switching out packaged seasonings with alternatives like lemon and lime juice, hot chili flakes, or orange zest, just to name a few.
Tip #4: Go Light on Calories, but Big on Flavor
Dishes with heavy creams and sauces may be rich in taste, but they don’t exactly fit into a healthy meal plan. However, this doesn’t mean that your lighter meal alternatives have to lack robust flavor. Instead, garnish your dishes with fresh herbs like basil, oregano, cilantro, curry, cumin or turmeric.
Tip #5: Fruit for Dessert
Swap out your traditional dessert recipes for lighter, leaner, fruit-based desserts. For example: chop up apples, top with a light oatmeal and brown sugar coating, and microwave for a twist on apple crisp, or grill fruit and pair with a small scoop of low-sugar ice cream. These fruit-based desserts are just as delicious and satisfying as any heavy-hitting fudge sundae.
Tip #6: Keep it Simple
Being committed to cooking your own healthy meals doesn’t mean you should feel pressure to tackle elaborate recipes. Cooking healthy foods can be simple and convenient. Meal options like stir fry (brown rice with a mix of fresh or frozen vegetables), pasta (whole grain noodles with marinara sauce and mushrooms) or turkey burgers with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles are supremely easy to make and don’t require much of your time or effort.
Do you have tips for cooking healthy meals? Read more of Lori’s advice for leading a healthy lifestyle by visiting her blog regularly!