My Rules For Healthy Cooking

I follow certain news outlets on Twitter, HuffPost being one of them because it provides a wide array of content. Every so often a story will catch my eye, and I’ll click over. Recently, I looked at an article called “5 New Rules for Healthy Cooking.” The article was admittedly kind of a letdown for someone who looks at these kinds of things day-in and day-out for fun, but for those new to healthier living, it might have been useful (i.e. butter isn’t the bad guy anymore, avocados are the hot new health food, and whole eggs for breakfast are better than, say, cereal).

The piece got me thinking about my own healthy cooking guidelines, and I realized that I do have some standby ways to keep me healthy in the kitchen. Keep in mind I’m not an R.D., and these are simply my own thoughts/experiences with healthy cooking.

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1. Cook with ingredients found on the outer limits of the grocery store. You’re cooking closer to the source this way. No additives = tastier and healthier food. Of course, there will be occasions when you need or want to cook with things found on the inner-aisle shelves – when I find myself looking at canned goods, etc. I always use the lower-sodium versions (unless my dad buys otherwise 😉 ).

2. Do not use vegetable oil. And by that, I mean the oil that is specifically labeled “vegetable oil.” It’s over-processed and, frankly, lacks flavor. You’re better off using an oil with more flavor and fats that aren’t uber-processed (more flavor, less oil).

And on that note…
3. Don’t be afraid to use some oils or other fats. My favorite cooking oils are olive, sesame and coconut. Your body needs fat to thrive, and if you only use fat-free spray you’re not doing yourself any favors. Plus, people usually spray those for longer than the recommended few seconds, which means you’re getting added calories anyway. In my own cooking, I would use the spray, for example, if I am using another oil in the dish.

4. Don’t use brown sugar or white table sugar in baking. The only time I’ll make an exception for this is at Christmastime. Did you know that brown sugar is actually just white sugar with molasses for coloring? The molasses changes the nutrition information slightly, but not much. If I’m baking, I’ll absolutely use more natural sugars, like bananas, honey or coconut palm sugar.

5. Add a little salt. We all know that too much sodium is bad for you, blah blah blah. But if you’re cooking with non-processed foods, you need to season them. A little bit of salt, as in a small pinch, won’t kill you. In fact, it’ll actually make your food taste better (I use sea salt!).

6. Make a big batch of whatever you’re cooking, and save some for later. This helps me out ALL the time, especially when I’m working. It’s a huge time saver, and you’ll also save some money buy not wasting that random half of a vegetable from the dish that didn’t make it in.

7. Listen to music while you cook or bake! Okay, so this one isn’t exactly food related. Still, music makes you feel good. I dare you to dance, too. Who said you can’t get a little exercise before dinnertime?

Questions of the Day:
>> What is one of your cooking rules?
>> Favorite type of oil to cook with?
>> Favorite type of dish to cook?

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24 comments

  1. All good rules! And thank you for including the added salt thing – if the majority of what you eat is non-processed, then you probably need a bit of added salt not only for flavour but for health…we need some sodium in our diets!

  2. Salt and oil! Omigosh I remember getting rid of both of those when I was trying to eat “healthier,” and life became absolute misery as a result. Not only do they add tonnes of flavour, but our bodies need fat and sodium to function properly! I definitely notice that my energy levels drop when I don’t get enough salt in my diet. Sometimes it works better than coffee 😀

  3. Couldn’t agree more with your rules/advice. I love #7 – esp. since I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked w/ music on. What!!?!! I know it’s crazy. I think I’ll have to change that up this evening 🙂

    1. Yes!! You have to try it! Cooking is enjoyable for me in general but when I have the chance to play music when I cook like when my dad isn’t sleeping before work I take full advantage! And the best time is when you’re baking cookies for Christmas.. gotta have the tunes on then.

  4. I went through a salt free and fat free phase. That was not fun. These days, I salt everything…no shame there. And pretty sure my sardines come in vegetable oil but that’s the only time I’ll use it/eat it!

  5. I love this! I also love how you kinda disagree with the Huff Post list about not staying on the outer perimeters of the grocery store… your #1 resonates with me much more than their #1. The less processed crap we eat, the better. And yay for all natural sugars. So much better for you and no point in putting the gross stuff in our bods when natural sugar tastes delicious as well. And cooking with music on… heck. yes. My music of choice? Eminem. (I’m weird I know, hehe).

    1. Hahah I would not have seen the Eminem coming, but okay! You do you, girl 😉 Yeah I wasn’t too crazy about the inner aisles thing, like those things have their place sometimes but ultimately I try to stay on the outer aisles as much as possible.

  6. Coconut oil is my favorite to cook with!!! You make me want to roast acorn & butternut squash with coconut oil and cinnamon, RIGHT NOW!!! Not only does my belly and taste buds ADORE IT but….. my house smells flipping fantastic! 😉

    1. Thanks! I was always afraid to cook with salt but I realized that my adding it to fresh foods didn’t make me feel bloated or anything. I get sodium-bloat from packaged stuff! And yep gotta replenish those electrolytes :p

  7. I struggle with finding alternate sweeteners when I bake…good thing I only bake once a year! These are great tips. One thing that I do is try to use foods with ingredients that I understand. I used to eat a vegan buttery spread until I realized how many chemicals were in it, and how processed it was, to get it to taste like butter. Now, I use the real thing. Do I drown my food in it? Nope, but my butter has three ingredients, zero trans fats, and I indulge in it when I feel like it.

    1. Yes exactly! My perception has changed so much over the past few years toward Vegan products – I understand their purposes but ultimately I don’t need to use those products, so it makes more sense for me to use the real thing. I’m very much of the opinion that the original source might just be the best when it comes to food products.

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