How to Cook Healthy Foods

Finding ideas for nutritious family meals can be tricky, especially if you have a family of fussy eaters. Weaning teenagers off the fast food burgers and onto a healthier diet is no mean feat, but there is no need to lose hope. It is possible to offer the whole family tasty meals they will all enjoy while keeping their diet healthy, with just a few simple changes.

Ready meals warmed in the microwave are convenient, but are high in saturated fat. Even those labelled as healthy options or reduced fat can be high in salt and sugar and still have higher fat levels than if you’d made the meal yourself.

Cut back on the processed foods

Consuming a lot of processed foods is not conducive to good health so the first step is to look at replacing at least some of the ready meals and convenience foods with meals prepared from scratch, made with fresh ingredients.

Think about some of the foods your family loves and start replacing high-fat and high-salt ingredients with lower fat and salt alternatives. For healthier dishes such as spaghetti bolognese or chilli con carne, substitute fatty minced beef with lean minced steak or quorn mince and use wholewheat pasta or brown rice.

Stick to cooking methods that don’t need a lot fat to be added to the dish. Invest in a griddle pan for cooking steak, chops or chicken, as this method of frying uses the bare minimum of fat, but browns the meat well, adding flavour.

Think fresh for flavour

If cooking from scratch seems like a time consuming task and you worry about having the time to prepare a family meal, then look at making casseroles and stews two or three evening a week. There are lots of lovely flavoursome recipes out there for one-pot dishes that are easy to prepare and can be left to cook for a couple of hours without spoiling. Slow cooking in the oven is a great way to make really tasty dishes and roasts and doesn’t need added fat for moistness or flavour. The added advantage of making casseroles one pot dishes is that lots of fresh vegetables can be added making the dish nutritious and satisfying and the fussy eaters will hardly notice.

The key to getting the picky members of the family to ear healthily is to be a little bit sneaky. Those who refuse to eat vegetables can be tricked into eating them by including lots of fresh vegetables and herbs in pasta sauces and casserole gravies. A basic tomato sauce can be pepped up with the addition of courgette, onions, garlic, leeks, celery and carrots. To be really stealthy, whiz the sauce up in a food processor until it’s smooth and no-one will notice the extra vegetables.

Use herbs and spices for added taste

It is a fallacy to think that excluding salt from cooking means less flavour, but there are lots of other ways to add flavour to food. Use spices such as cumin, ground coriander, pepper or paprika, especially in chilli or one pot dishes. Fresh herbs are available from the supermarket these days and there is a wide variety to choose from and these can be used to add fresh flavour to your dishes.

Keeping a supply of ingredients in the store cupboard means you can turn any meal into a tasty masterpiece. Stock up on dried herbs and spices, canned beans, pulses, vinegars, flavoured olive oils, low sodium salt, wholewheat pasta and brown rice.

The article was contributed by Lloyd on behalf of Range Cookers.

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