The best way to ensure a lean, healthy you is by preparing your meals at home.

Not only are you in charge of what goes into the food, such as seasonings and added oils, but you can also decide exactly how a food is cooked.

Cooking methods are important, because not only can you overcook foods, robbing them of their important nutrient values such as phytochemicals (phytonutrients), but there are simply healthier methods of cooking.

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Let’s bring it back to the basics with these healthy cooking methods you truly need to implement right away.

Moist heat preparation.

This includes methods like simmering, blanching and steaming. Liquids are used to heat food as well as enhance flavor and color:

Blanching is a great way to prepare raw vegetables. You are able to slightly soften the vegetables, decrease their raw, sometimes bitter, taste as well as enhance their colors to a brighter shade.

To blanch you would first want to have a bowl of cool water on the side while bringing the stove-top water to boil. Drop in the food to be prepared and allow food to boil for a quick 1-2 minutes. Remove and immediately toss the food into the cool water.

This will stop it from cooking longer, keeping it full of nutrients and flavor. Vegetables are the popular food cooked in this manner and it is a favorite of clean eating parents since they seek the cleanest foods, but still need to keep it appetizing for the kids.

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Simmering is best described as a gentler way of boiling. When you are slowly raising the heat in foods, you are more likely to preserve the color and the delicate phytonutrients within the food. If you are looking for moist meat and poultry or softer veggies, this could be your method of choice.

Steaming, since the food is typically not in direct contact with the liquid, is the best way to heat food while preserving it’s nutrients. The best way to steam is to place the food in a covered rack or steamer basket that sets above the boiling water. The food and steam are then trapped inside, allowing for gentle heating. Head here for great tips on steaming fish.

Dry heat preparation.

This includes healthy cooking methods typically seen in clean eating recipes. Such cooking methods are baking, roasting, sautéing and grilling and require much higher temperatures that the moist methods.

The most popular of this methods may likely be baking and grilling:

Baking is a process of heating by hot air in an oven. There are several different baking methods as well, pertaining to the positioning of the oven racks.

Roasting large cuts of meat, such as a turkey, would be done using the bottom rack and baking chicken breast in a baking dish would require a rack position in the middle of oven.

Sautéing and stir-frying are methods of frying, but the healthy difference is in the amount of fat used.

With the stir-fry method you are cooking vegetables and smaller pieces of meats by continually stirring in a very small amount of fat (typically only a tablespoon). Sautéing is a method of cooking using even less fat than a stir-fry.

Oftentimes, sautéing can be simply be done with the fats and juices of the food itself, making it an even healthier cooking method than most.

Some great combos here are peppers, onions and mushrooms with diced chicken and precooked rice. Just before removing from the heat, toss in a small amount of sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sliced almonds. Don’t forget to cook extra for a quick lunch the next day!

Grilling is a method of cooking where the food is above the heat source. Grilling is loved by those seeking ways to eat healthier because there is no need for added oils. Plus, any excess fats simply fall away from the food through the grilling slats.

Not only are these methods healthier but they are simple, quick and keep the food tasty. Be sure to come back and share your new recipes with me!

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