Whether you are looking to save some money, or improve your overall health – cooking at home is the first step. A few simple kitchen skills can help you up the health quotient of you and your family. You don’t have to be a culinary expert to learn this. What you will learn in this article is quite basic, yet quite useful. Read on.
You are set to being a “Healthier You.” Just learn these three simple kitchen skills:
Chop your fruits & veggies in different ways & shapes
Steam your food
1) Chop your fruits and veggies in different ways
Bored of eating veggie salads? Want to add more variety to them? Want to introduce new fruits to your child? Want your child to eat more fruits? Try chopping your fruits and veggies in different ways and shapes. They taste differently based on which way you cut & eat them. All you need for starters is a scraper, grater and a knife.
Here are a few tips:
Master a few different cuts like small dice, medium dice, large dice, julienne (matchstick-cut), chiffonade (ribbon cut for greens and herbs), rough chop and mince. By learning different cuts, you can add variety to your veggie preparations, and make them attractive even for picky eaters.
Try grating zucchini into thin strips resembling spaghetti and add healthy nut or lemon based dressings, to make an enjoyable healthy bowl meal.
Pick a cucumber. The most common cuts are round thin slices or long sticks. Try using a scraper to scrape long broad thin cucumber slices. Or mince it finely; add in a few dry roasted pumpkin seeds, some rock salt, lemon and pepper. You can enjoy your cucumber-only salad.
Check your taste preferences. You may not like to have some veggies as raw, but once you experiment with the way it is chopped, it might find a place in your salad meals! Try turnip (shalgam). Some people like to have it in a chunky form, as sticks. If you are not one of those, use your grater to grate it into thin strips and then add to your salad. Try it out.
You could try cutting out apple in a star shape, or watermelon in a heart shape using cookie cutters and add to your kid’s morning breakfast meal to get them excited to try them out.
Keep it simple. A scraper, grater and a few good knives are enough to help you chop. But if you decide to invest in a good quality food chopper, look for choppers that let you cut veggies and fruits in different styles. Tupperware, Borosil, Inalsa Joy, Queen Chef are some popular chopper brands in India. While choosing a vegetable chopper, make sure to pick ones that are easy to clean.
2) Learn the art of steaming
Did you know that vegetables and other foods lose their nutritional values when cooked at high temperatures? This is why cooking with steam is considered one of the best ways to preserve the nutritional values of your food.
Here are some of the benefits of steam cooking:
Preserves the colour, texture, fibre, and flavour of your foods. It helps to retain the water-soluble B & C vitamins, and other minerals like potassium, zinc, phosphorous and antioxidants.
Steam cooking doesn’t need oil, thereby upping the nutritional quotient of your meals.
Retains the cancer-fighting compounds present in veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. By steaming foods at low temperatures with minimum water, you retain all the cancer-fighting compounds in the veggies.
Softens the food, making it easier to chew for small kids and elders alike.
Steam cooking simplifies the clean-up process – since, there’s no oil and no smoke, thereby no mess.
Foods that can be steamed: vegetables, momos, sprouts, idlis, dhoklas, idiyappam, patra, steamed rice, and more.
What to make with steamed foods: Steamed veggies can be used in salads, soups, cutlets, sambhar, rotis. Steam sweet potato for chaat. There are plenty of creative ways to use steamed foods. Play around with your regular recipes to find out innovative steamed dishes.
A few do’s and don’ts of steaming
Know your Steamer – The two main types of steamers are – electric steamers and traditional stove top steamers. Whichever steamer you use, make sure that you know how to use it the right way. If you are looking to purchase a new steamer, we recommend the Vinod Cookware range that allows you to steam different foods in various compartments.
Use Minimal Water – One or two inches of water is sufficient.
Make sure to put the water for boiling, while you are chopping. This helps in saving time.
Don’t steam for long – Steamed veggies take just a few minutes to cook. Experiment with your steamer to find the ideal cooking times.
For steaming potatoes, wash them properly and keep them as-is. If you peel, cut and then keep for steaming, they often become sticky and more moisture laden, not the best to use for cutlets or salads. Steam sweet potatoes also the same way. Other veggies can be cut and put in steamer.
Enhance the water by adding vegetable stock or herbs – Get creative, use different liquids to enhance the flavour of your foods.
Once you have finished steaming, the steam water can be used for cooking. So if you are making a soup or curry, use this water.
Make sure the lid is air-tight – You need the steam generated to touch the food, and not escape from the pot. If the lid of your stove-top steamer is loose, try using a tea-towel to prevent the steam from escaping. If your electric steamer leaks steam, then you need to get it repaired or replaced.
3) Try your hands at oil-free cooking
As Indians, the thought of cooking without any oil feels strange to us. Though many oils are advertised as healthy, remember it’s similar to the fruit juice syndrome. Just like apple juice doesn’t contain the nutrition of a whole apple; oils don’t contain the nutrition of the whole nuts and seeds from which they are made. Read our blog Do you need oil to get oilto know more. So instead eat whole fruits and nuts to get the right nutrients.
For Indian cooking, skip the part where you add oil. Follow the rest of the process as usual. If you are making an onion based masala, let the onions cook in their own water. If you feel they are sticking to the cookware, you could sprinkle some water. But if your masala has tomato also, there will be no need to add any water.
Add nuts and seeds or their paste to your cooking to eliminate the use of oil
Break the habit of using oil by introducing oil-free days in your diet.
For baking, instead of oil, try using seed butter.
If you want to use oil sometimes, opt for cooking with cold-pressed oils.
Start slow and steady. Keep going oil free bit by bit, meal by meal.
Few tips to help you get started with oil-free cooking:
Choose the right cookware – Ceramic pans, heavy-bottomed stainless steel pans, cast-iron pans are great for oil-free cooking as the food doesn’t stick to them.
Try Alternative Cooking Styles – Baking, Roasting, Stir-frying, Sautéing – all can be done with no to minimal oil.
Experiment with oil-free condiments like lemon juice, herbs, spices, nut butter, and others.
You can cook- healthy
The journey to a “healthier you” begins at your kitchen. Practice these simple and healthy techniques, to enjoy home cooking and create healthy meals, for you and your family.
Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food & lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. The views expressed by the users are their personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.
I cook oil free. We absolutely don’t need any oil in the cooking. If you can’t see oil floating on the food, that dish does not need any oils. Taste does not change absolutely. I used cold pressed oils for a long time and since 3 months I am absolutely oil free in cooking. It helps in cleaning your insides when you stay oilfree . My maid also has learnt this and is practising. Where there is a will, there is always a way. I felt that sautéing or using clay vessels is even better and user friendly in an oilfree cooking. Iron makes some dishes black which even if I try to console myself, I can’t wrap my head around that it’s ok. If enzymes and minerals in the food reacts to iron, then it has already changed. So I mostly use clay for all and mandatorily use it where iron tends t change the color - raw mango/ brinjal etc. if you need any specific tips and details, feel
Free to ask .. happy to help.
Hi Ulka! Regarding cookware, I mostly use stainless steel (vinod / prestige) wok. I also cook some veggies in an iron skillet. To prevent the veggies turning dark, I empty the veggies into a stainless steel vessel as soon as they are completely cooked. I have observed them turning dark in colour only when left in the iron kadhai for some time.
Aluminium with ceramic coating isn't safe as the ceramic soon tend to chip off resulting in leaching of harmful chemicals into the food. If its ceramic cookware it should be 100% ceramic (completely natural).
hey ulka. you should not worry about ironware leaving iron while cooking. It is in fact a great source of natural dietary iron & non-toxic compared to many other cookware such as non-stick or aluminium.
I mostly use stainless steel only. There are many heavy bottomed steel pans available now. Iron kadhais have to be seasoned and stored. Google for it, you will get all the info. But I agree it is a hassle. That is why I use mainly stainless steel. For tava, I use earthen tava,
Which ceramic pans to use ..mostly all pans have aluminium with ceramic coating
Which heavy weight stainless steel company you recomend
Does cooking in iron kadhai makes the veggies dark ...as it leaves ..iron while cooking .and how do you protect from rust?
Which cold press oil you recommend for making curries ..besides coconut oil ,,?