“Over weeks and months …you will get addicted to the awesome taste of healthy food…and start wondering why you never did it earlier!” – The Fitness Doc
Cooking healthy and tasty doesn’t have to be difficult. The healthiest meals usually are the ones which take less time to prepare.
When you cook at home, you can control portion sizes and the ingredients. This is very important when your goal is to maintain a healthy weight or when dealing with health issues.
Use the tips below to start making healthier meals for your family and yourself.
1. Find some healthy easy-to-make dish recipes for your daily diet so you would always have an option when you are not in the mood or do not have time to create something new or make a time-consuming dish. Make sure to stock your fridge with the ingredients you may need for those dishes.
2. Take your favorite meals and try to make them healthier by replacing some ingredients with healthier alternatives – that way you will have a healthier option of your favorite dish. For example, you may substitute butter or margarine with olive oil; store-bought salad dressing with a small amount of olive oil and vinegar; fries with boiled or roasted potatoes.
3. Plan your meals ahead and stock your kitchen with the necessary ingredients. That way you will have no excuse for an unhealthy eating option (like microwaving processed food, ordering food at home or going to a fast food restaurant).
4. You do not have to have food products from all food groups in one meal. Have a lighter meal by having smaller number of different products. For example, if you decide to eat meat, have just vegetables (fresh, stewed or steamed) as a side dish; or if you want to have rice, plan to have lunch or dinner without meat – have cooked rice mixed with steamed or fried vegetables.
5. Do not keep unhealthy highly processed packaged foods and foods high in solid fats, added sugars, salt, and other additives at home. This will help you avoid using unhealthy sauces, dressings, and condiments. There is always an option for these. Fresh herbs, spices and olive oil are an easy way to add flavor to dishes – this will make healthy home cooked food taste great.
6. Choose lean protein for cooking at home. Choose white meat more often than red meat. Prepare fish at least once per week. Grill, stew, boil or poach meat or fish (with all visible fat trimmed before cooking) instead of frying.
7. Choose organic (or farmer‘s) products as often as you can. They taste much better – that way you do not need condiments (which are high in fat and full of additives) to add flavor to your food. Furthermore, organic products themselves are better to your health.
8. Make healthy drinks at home. Liquids are an important part of your daily diet. Choose water instead of sugary drinks. Drinking water instead will help you a lot in reducing sugars. You can add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice – lemon not only adds flavor to water, it also provides vitamin C and helps cleanse toxins from your body. To give it some other flavors, you can add any fruit or vegetable to your water. Adding some pieces of cucumber or some mint will make your water-drink refreshing. Making your water with different natural flavors is the easiest way to make healthy drink for your body. Sometimes you can replace water with herbal tea or fresh juice (fruit or vegetable juice). Also, you can add some natural honey to your tea to make it sweet.
9. Choose fresh food products. For cooking at home buy fresh, natural meat instead of pre-packaged meat products; choose fresh vegetables over the canned version that has added sugar and salt. Keep seasonal, locally grown ingredients as the first priority in your cooking.
10. Make cakes (or other sweets) at home on special occasions only – better choose fresh, seasonal fruit for dessert or as a snack. When making a cake, look for healthy recipes to have as little sugar as possible and avoid using flour.