Friday, February 22, 2008

Healthy Cooking

Tips for Healthy Cooking When cutting back on sodium, fat (particularly saturated fat) and cholesterol, how you cook is just as important as what you cook. People with heart failure and their families don't have to give up taste or the foods they love. Often minor changes in how favorite foods and recipes are prepared can make a big difference.

Healthy cooking doesn't mean that you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in expensive cookware. Simply use basic cooking methods to prepare foods in healthy ways.
These cooking techniques offer ways to best capture the flavor and nutrients from your food without adding excessive amounts of fat or salt. Once you've mastered these techniques, use them often to prepare your favorite dishes.

The first goal for many people with heart disease is to reduce the amount of salt they eat. This is usually more important than controlling saturated fat and cholesterol consumption. If you usually add salt while cooking, simply put the salt shaker out of reach. Don't season meats and vegetables with prepackaged mixes, which often contain a lot of salt. Don't fry foods in oil, which adds unwanted fat and calories. Instead, try some of these healthier techniques:

  • Stir-fry. Use a wok to cook vegetables, poultry and seafood in vegetable stock, a small amount of oil. Avoid high-sodium seasonings like teriyaki and soy sauce.


  • Roast. Put a rack in the pan so the meat or poultry doesn't sit in its own fat drippings. Instead of basting the meat with pan drippings, use fat-free liquids, tomato juice or lemon juice. When making gravy from the drippings, use a gravy strainer or skim ladle to remove the fat.

  • Grill or broil. Always use a rack so fat drips away from the food.
  • Bake. Bake foods in covered cookware with a little extra liquid.

  • Poach. Cook chicken or fish by immersing it in simmering liquid.

  • Sauté. A pan made with nonstick metal or coated with a nonstick surface is a terrific investment, because it lets you use little or no oil without having food stick. You also can use a nonstick vegetable spray, a small amount of broth, or a tiny bit of oil rubbed onto the pan with a paper towel. When necessary, use liquid vegetable oils that have no more than 2 g of saturated fat per tablespoon.

  • Steam. Steam vegetables in a basket over simmering water. They'll retain more flavor and won't need any salt.

  • Baking. Besides breads and desserts, use this method to cook uniform-sized pieces of vegetables, fruit, seafood, poultry or lean meat. Place food in a pan or dish surrounded by the hot, dry air of your oven. You may cook the food covered or uncovered. Baking generally doesn't require that you add fat to the food.
  • Braising. This method involves browning the ingredient first in an open or covered pan on top of the stove, and then slowly cooking it with a small quantity of liquid. In some recipes, the cooking liquid is used afterward to form a flavorful, nutrient-rich sauce.
  • Enhancing. Creating meals using spices and herbs is one of the best ways to add color, taste and aroma to foods. Choose fresh herbs that look bright and aren't wilted. Add them toward the end of cooking. Add dried herbs in the earlier stages of cooking. When substituting dried for fresh, use about one-third the amount.

Healthy cookware to lessen potential risks

There are potential risks in some cookware materials. Aluminum and Teflon-lined pots, pans and bakeware are safest when kept in good condition and used properly. Stainless steel, enameled or well-seasoned cast iron and porcelain cookware are best.

aluminum - Plain aluminum cookware is low-cost, light-weight, and thermally responsive - but aluminum is reactive. Foods cooked in aluminum can react with the metal to form aluminum salts associated with impaired visual motor coordination and Alzheimer's disease; however there is no definite link proven. More than half of all cookware sold today is made of aluminum.

• keep aluminum cookware on good condition -
When cooking with aluminum pots, the more pitted and worn out the pot, the greater amount of aluminum will be absorbed.
• minimize food storage time in aluminum -
The longer food is cooked or stored in aluminum, the greater the amount that gets into food.
• avoid cooking highly acidic foods in aluminum -
Aluminum cookware manufacturers warn that storing highly acidic or salty foods such as tomato sauce, rhubarb, or sauerkraut in aluminum pots may cause more aluminum than usual to enter the food.

anodized aluminum -
Anondized aluminum has been treated to develop an aluminum oxide (extremely hard and non-reactive) coating on the surface of the cookware. Commercial Aluminum Company, the manufacturer of Calphalon, a best-selling brand of anodized aluminum cookware, claims that a final stage in the anodization process seals the aluminum, preventing any leaching into food. Anodized aluminum cookware doesn't react to acidic foods, so these pots and pans are good choices for cooking rhubarb and sauces with tomato, wine, and lemon juice.

stainless steel -
Mixing steel with chromium and nickel (18/8 stainless steel is 18% chromium and 8% nickel while 18/10 has 10% nickel) produces a corrosion resistant steel that is both hard wearing and easy to clean. Stainless steel cookware is considered one of the best and safest choices in cookware.

• avoid using abrasive materials when cleaning stainless steel cookware -
Stainless steel cookware can become a problem if an abrasive material is used frequently to clean it thereby releasing small amounts of chromium and nickel. Nickel is not poisonous in small quantities but it can cause an allergic reaction. People with nickel allergies should avoid cooking with stainless steel cookware.

copper with stainless steel lining -
Copper exterior requires more care but imparts the utensil with copper's excellent thermal properties. Stainless steel/copper cookware is considered among the best and safest choices in cookware.

copper - Copper pans are often coated with another metal that prevents the copper from coming into contact with food. Small amounts of the coating can be dissolved by food, especially acidic food, when cooked or stored for long periods.

• not for people with nickel allergies -
Nickel is one of the metals used in coating, so anyone allergic to nickel should avoid nickel-coated cookware.
• avoid abrasive materials when cleaning -
Coated copper cookware can lose its protective layer if scoured.
• avoid uncoated copperware -
Don't use badly scratched or uncoated copper cookware to cook or store food.

Teflon and Silverstone -
Non-stick finishes like Teflon and Silverstone scratch easily and may release little bits of inert plastic into the food when cooked, as well as toxic fumes over high heat. DuPont studies show that Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 446°F. At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens. DuPont acknowledges that the fumes can sicken people, a condition called "polymer fume fever."
A study by Environmental Working Group, in collaboration with Commonweal in 2005 found chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of US-born infants including the Teflon chemical PFOA Similarly, researchers at John Hopkins Hospital, who released findings in 2006, found PFOA the Teflon chemical, in umbilical cord blood in 99% of 300 newborns tested. The Canadian government is introducing legislation to ban PFOA. more info on teflon

• consider replacing your Teflon cookware
• do not overheat Teflon cookware -
Nonstick coatings are a risk is if they are over-heated. This can happen if an empty pan is left on a burner. In this case, the fumes released can be irritating or hazardous. If you plan to continue using Teflon, only cook foods at low heat.
• keep pet birds away when cooking with Teflon -
Households with pet birds should be aware that Teflon fumes pose a hazard to birds.

cast iron -
Plain cast-iron is thick and dense cookware for unparalleled heat capacity. The thickness also results in even heating; however, the thickness also requires more time (and energy) to heat up. Cooking with cast iron also provides a source of an important nutrient.
Some nutritionists suggest that foods cooked in unglazed cast iron contain twice or more the amount of iron they would contain otherwise. Cast-iron utensils, although considered very safe to use, should be handled differently from other utensils.

• keep cookware well-coated -
To prevent rust damage, the inside of cast iron cookware should be coated frequently with unsalted cooking oil.
• use detergents sparingly -
It should not be washed with strong detergents or scoured and should be wiped dry immediately after rinsing.

ceramic, enameled and glass -
Cookware made properly of enamel-coated iron and steel is safe to cook with, according to the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Because of the high firing temperatures required, lead which could present a safety concern is not used in the enamel for this cookware. Some older enamel cookware contained the potentially toxic substance cadmium, which was sometimes contained in the red, yellow and orange pigments used to color the interior of enamel cookware. Cadmium was used mostly by foreign manufacturers. But manufacturers have discontinued its use, and consumers today are not in danger of cadmium poisoning from enamelware marketed today.
Some countries do not have strict lead and cadmium limits. If you bring in glazed ceramic cookware from abroad, be aware that it may not meet permitted levels for lead and cadmium.

crock-pots and terra cotta -
Considered safe for cooking. However, lead has been used in some glazes for slow-cooking pots (crock-pots). But, in tests done in 1987, FDA found that the amount of lead that leached into food from these pots did not exceed FDA standards. As a general rule, terra cotta cookware without lead glaze is the best choice.
To ensure safety in using pottery dishes or cookware, ensure that there is a label that reads, “Safe for food use.” It is also best to avoid using pottery items such as pitchers or mugs from Mexico or Latin America due to the potential high levels of lead.

plastic -
Using plastic containers and wrap for anything other than their original purpose can cause health problems. Don't use plastic bowls or wrap in the microwave unless they are labelled as microwave safe. If you reuse items for storage, such as dairy product containers, let the food cool before storing, then refrigerate it immediately. Never heat or store food in plastic containers that were not intended for food.

bamboo -
Bamboo steamers and paddles as well as wooden spoons, chopsticks and crockery are non-reactive and considered to have no harmful effects on food during cooking. Bamboo steamers are dishwasher safe, and bamboo is also an earth-friendly, renewable resource.

Cooking and storing tips to reduce toxicity

• Store your food in glass, not plastic
• Do not use Styrofoam cups for drinking (especially hot drinks!)
• When cooking, keep your kitchen well ventilated. Turn on your oven fan or open a window.
• Plastic cookware handles that get too hot may emit toxic fumes. Choose cookware with handles that stay cool on the stovetop for a reasonable amount of time but are oven-safe (e.g. glass/ceramic or stainless steel tubular).
• Never use scouring powders, scouring pads, or other abrasives on 'microwave safe' cookware.
• Avoid eating leftover food that has been stored for more than one day.

Waterless Cooking Preserves Nutrients, Reduces Fat and Limits Harmful Food Chemistry Changes

Disk based (pans with thick bottoms) cooking is healthy cooking. Waterless cookware allows low fat, lower heat, no light, very little water, and very little pressure.

Minimal Fat means Low Fat Cooking
Fat need not be used at all in disk based cooking. The even heat, and the heat retention allow you to braise or sear your meat on the bare pan. Fats and oils may be used as condiments in vegetable cooking or meat cooking but they are not required for avoiding the sticking that occurs in thinner metal pans.

  • Lower Heat means Safe Cooking
    Recent studies reported by the National Academy of Sciences indicate that cooking at high temperatures causes sugars to degrade into Antiglycation End Products (AGEs). AGEs are very hard on diabetics because they make the blood vessels clog up. AGEs also cause certain proteins such as C-reactive proteins (CRPs)in the blood to elevate. Elevated CRPs are strongly predictive of future heart attacks and strokes.

  • Little or No Water Required Means Nutritious Cooking
    The vapor sealed lids combined with the disk bottoms allow gentle cooking without water (except of course dehydrated foods such as rice or pasta). The great advantage of this method is that the water soluble vitamins are not poured out when draining the food after cooking. Additional nutritional benefits such as Vitamin B12 retention are a result of no light and low pressure cooking methods.

  • Do you really need special pots and pans to achieve these healthy cooking benefits?

    Yes you do! The thick stainless steel disk foundation produces a very even heat distribution and no hot spots. The lids are designed to create a durable seal so that none of the precious internal moisture is lost during cooking. Waterless cookware is more than an investment guaranteed for life, it is an investment in a whole new way of life.
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