There’s a large number of people who would argue that nothing beats home cooked meals.
The single most important thing we could do as a family to improve our health and general well-being is to make home cooked meals. But today’s rat race has people equating cooking at home as something stressful and time-consuming.
Coming up with delicious and healthy food recipes is easier than you think, especially with these simple healthy food hacks.
Pick your salt
It’s not just the news that you have to take with a grain of salt these days.
The ideal daily sodium intake should be kept at 1500 milligrams or less.
Excessive consumption of salt is one major contributor to an unhealthy diet and is also associated with heart failure, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and stroke.
While it’s next to impossible to totally remove salt from your diet and your dishes, there are ways to cut back on it.
One way to cut down on sodium in meals is to use citrus zests.
Simply grate some zest and add to dishes for that extra boost of flavor.
People might tire of hearing it, but using different herbs and spices can have a major impact on the taste and nutritional value of the dish.
Many herbs and spices offer health benefits. For instance, cinnamon has anti-oxidants that help cells process glucose. Eating just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day will minimize the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Ginger helps reduce inflammation and improves attention span while using rosemary in meat marinades prevents the development of heterocyclic amines, free radicals that are said to cause cancer.
You can go for dried herbs or better yet, opt into growing fresh herbs.
Not only will your garden or kitchen still look nice, but you’ll also have a steady supply of flavor boosters.
Just chop some parsley, chive and thyme, add a little lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and voila – an instant sauce for everything!
Or if you prefer stronger flavors, toss some of chipotle chili’s in the blender, add a little olive oil and blend into a paste.
It goes well with anything, even your plate of steamed broccoli. What’s more, you can blend a big batch to keep in the fridge so you’ll always have some handy.
Do an oil change
Something as easy as an oil change can have a major impact in healthy home cooking.
Olive oil is a great and healthy alternative to corn oil and canola oil, although there are those who prefer grapeseed oil or sunflower oil.
But like everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad, including olive oil. As a rule, try to use one oil for cooking, and another for finishing. Sunflower, grapeseed, rapeseed and peanut oils are good for roasting and frying because of its neutral flavor while olive oil can be used in sautes and for cooking over moderate heat.
Coconut oil is also a good option when roasting, sauteing and baking. For finishing off your dishes or for salad dressings, nut oils, garlic or herb-infused oils are a good choice. Olive oil can also be used in dressings.
One useful hack to losing weight and keeping those calories in check is to use an oil mister to ensure that you don’t go overboard on the oil.
If an oil mister sounds too fancy or expensive, try a cheap water spritzer bottle. Put olive oil in it and use to mist salad or spritz olive oil on the frying pan.
A lot of people are discouraged from making a home cooked meal by the amount of peeling and chopping that one has to do first.
You can save time and effort by using some simple shortcuts. Use your food processor to chop vegetables.
Grating vegetables lessens the prep and cooking time. They are also easier to eat raw and can also be used to make simple, tasty and healthy side dishes.
Buying pre-sliced vegetables in the supermarket can also save a lot of time, plus they’re still healthy.
Check the frozen food aisle
Fresh fruits are a much better choice for snacks and desserts. While fresh fruits are ideal, frozen ones can be just as good.
Check out your frozen food sections for your favorite fruits or for those that are in season. As these are picked and frozen while they’re still at their peak freshness, their nutrients have been locked in.
After that, it’s just a simple matter of incorporating them in your dishes or preparing them for dessert. Or, freeze your own fruits and blend them up to create your own raw ice cream.
Upgrade your kitchen
You can already whip up a good meal with just a good chef’s knife, a paring knife and a wooden cutting board.
However, certain gadgets will admittedly make life easier and your dishes better. A cordless blender can be a boon to any kitchen as it can be used to grind spices, mash produce or make a healthy soup.
A vegetable spiral cutter is also a good kitchen investment for those who prefer their pasta to be made from zucchini or carrots.
Two in one
Preparing food that can be extended to two meals or more is another kitchen hack that you can use to make home cooking easier and more fun.
Double the ingredients you use and freeze for later use.
For instance, cube and roast two squashes when making soup. Use one to puree into a delicious soup while the other can be used in another dish, like pasta or tacos.
Leftover salad greens can also be used to make spring rolls or bibimbap, a popular rice and vegetable dish from Korea.