Archive for the tag - cooking

Is Microwave Cooking Unhealthy?

1050057_229626191When we think microwaves and radiation, we think nuclear power plants and specialized space suits. It all sounds scary – and it is. So it’s not wonder that people are concerned about the health implications of microwave cooking.

According to Robert Brackett, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the microwaves used for cooking are many, many times weaker than gamma rays or x-rays. In fact, the changes in the microwaved food occur from heat generated within the food – and not the actual microwaves. As Dr. Brackett notes, “microwave cooking is really no different from any other cooking method that applies heat to food.”

It’s also untrue that microwave cooking is anymore destructive to nutrients versus other cooking methods. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking with an oven, a stove, a grill or a microwave, it’s the amount of heat and cooking time that can impact nutrient loss; heat and water-sensitive nutrients are lost at hotter temperatures and longer cooking durations. Because microwaves cut down cooking time, they can actually help minimize nutrient loss.

Of course, it’s important to use microwave safe containers so that harmful plastics don’t contaminate your food.

7 Best Healthy Holiday Cooking Tips.

While salsa might not be a traditional Christmas food for many, the colors are perfect for the season!

When it comes to the holidays, it’s not just about trimming your tree. It’s about trimming unhealthy fats, sugar and salt from your favorite seasonal recipes.

To that end, try a few of my favorite tips!

  1. Cut added sugar in half. If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, opt for half a cup. Then, add a bit more citrus, vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon and you’ll be fine.
  2. Reduce the butter. You can usually cut the butter in half, and then replace it with applesauce or bananas. I’ve even used avocados as an excellent butter substitute.
  3. Opt for reduced or lower-sodium variations of packaged foods – or, even better, go fresh!
  4. Replace unhealthy dips with salsas and guacamole – they’re already red and green! You could even pair a red tomato-based salsa with a green tomatillo-based salsa. Hummus is another healthy dip alternative. If you do prefer dips, replace sour cream with Greek yogurt.
  5. Cut added salt in half. You won’t even notice a difference – and, if you do, add herbs or seasoning. Your blood pressure will thank you!
  6. Use fresh or frozen fruits and berries instead of frosting, syrup or jam on desserts.
  7. Incorporate lots and lots of veggies. Vegetables add bulk to your meal without all the extra calories. Beyond providing plenty of nutrients, vegetables are high in fiber – thereby making you feel fuller, longer.

If you have any favorite healthy holiday cooking tips, please share them in the comments below!

17 Best Healthy Recipe Substitutions.

Speaking of Canadian bacon... Yum!

One of the great advantages to cooking at home is that you can control what goes into the food you eat. It’s your food and it’s your body.

To take your healthier cooking commitment to the next level, I’d encourage you to experiment with some of these amazing food substitutions. Though recipes might call for unhealthy ingredients, feel empowered to try these delicious and flavorful replacements:

  1. Bacon: Try Canadian bacon or turkey bacon instead.
  2. White bread: Whole grain bread.
  3. White flour: Black beans, drained and rinsed, or whole wheat flour.
  4. Butter: Unsweetened applesauce, avocado puree, prune puree or just cut the amount of butter in half.
  5. Cream: Fat-free milk.
  6. Cream cheese: Low-fat cream cheese.
  7. Sugar: Unsweetened applesauce, or cut sugar in half and add some vanilla.
  8. Frosting: Use meringue instead.
  9. White rice: Brown rice.
  10. Pasta: Zucchini ribbons.
  11. Breadcrumbs: Rolled oats.
  12. Beef: Bison – it’s lower in fat and has more vitamins.
  13. Ground beef: Ground turkey.
  14. Sour cream: Greek yogurt.
  15. Mayo: Mashed avocado.
  16. Salt: Herbs.
  17. Soda: Seltzer water.

Do you have any healthy recipe substitutions that you use at home? Let me know in the comments!

Myth: Cooking Olive Oil Destroys Its Benefits.

Not all fats are created equal.

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, and like other unsaturated fats, it offers some great health benefits and is generally considered to be a “good” fat. According to the Mayo Clinic, unsaturated fats:

  • Lower risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors
  • Lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels
  • Normalize blood clotting
  • Benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control

Of course, even unsaturated fats are rich in calories – and though they are healthier than saturated fats, they should still be consumed sparingly.

For years, I’ve heard the rumor that the benefits of healthy oils – and olive oils in particular – are destroyed when heated. It’s simply untrue; research shows that olive oil can take the heat. The plant-based compounds are actually very stable up until the oil’s smoking point at around 375 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use virgin olive oil, as opposed to extra virgin, you’ll get a few extra degrees.

More important is how you store the oil. Keep olive oil in a room-temperature cupboard, and use within six months of opening. Light, air and atypical storage temperatures have a dramatic effect on the oil’s stability.