Dining out and ordering takeout may seem convenient, but when done habitually, they can be detrimental to your health. This is because it’s difficult to see what ingredients are being used in your meals when they’re prepared in restaurants or fast food chains. Many of these establishments often use high amounts of trans fat, salt, and sugar in their cooking, which can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you want to improve your eating habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle, then you may want to consider making more homemade meals and cooking healthier dishes.
Benefits of Home Cooking
By making meals at home, you get to control what goes into your food, how they are prepared, and even the serving size for each person. This is particularly important if you have certain dietary needs, as you can create satisfying dishes that properly address them. Not to mention, cooking at home costs less than eating out. The total cost of individual ingredients for home-cooked meals is often smaller than a single restaurant order. Furthermore, home cooking allows you to create multiple dishes from the same ingredients. This way, you get more variety without having to spend extra.
Cooking at home can be daunting for first-timers, especially when you’ve grown accustomed to dining out. However, with a trusty gas cooker hob, quality ingredients, and proper planning, you’ll be making mouth-watering dishes in no time.
If you want to start cooking healthier food, below are four tips to help you get started:
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
Creating a proper meal plan can help you save time and energy while maximizing your ingredients. It can be challenging to decide on what to cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, especially if you don’t have a lot of time on your schedule. Without a meal plan, busy days may tempt you to order takeout or dine out. With a meal plan, you can prepare all the necessary ingredients for multiple dishes ahead of time. When planning, try to include recipes that use the same basic ingredients. For example, you can bake a whole chicken, use some of its meat for a salad dish, then store its leftovers in the fridge for a chicken sandwich or pasta.
Ditch Processed Ingredients and Opt for Whole Foods
Quality ingredients are the heart of a healthy dish. Foods like tuna and corn are beneficial for your health, but the opposite is true if they’re canned or processed. Processed foods contain artificial preservatives and chemicals that may be harmful to your health in the long run. Similar to fast food, they tend to contain large amounts of sodium, trans fats, and sugar to prolong their shelf life and enhance their taste. They also undergo refinement processes that remove a lot of vitamins and minerals, decreasing their overall nutritional value.
That being said, it’s best to use whole foods if cooking healthier is a priority. Whole foods are made using little to no additives, chemicals, and refinement processes. In essence, they’re food in their most basic forms. These include vegetables, fruits, fresh meats, fish, whole grains, and extra virgin olive oil. These natural ingredients are highly nutritious and their simplicity makes it easier to control what you’re ingesting, which is very helpful if you’re on a special diet.
Choose the Right Kinds of Fats
Most foods made with trans fat and vegetable oil contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. When consumed frequently, these fatty acids can lead to serious cardiovascular problems. However, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid fats altogether. Fat is still an essential part of a balanced diet, as it helps your body absorb nutrients. With that in mind, using the right kinds of fats can help you create healthier dishes. Instead of using vegetable oils, try cooking healthier with extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, which both contain monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart.
Get Creative with Your Flavours
While high amounts of salt and sugar can negatively affect your health, this doesn’t mean that healthy food has to be tasteless and unappetizing. Including these ingredients in your dishes is perfectly fine as long as you practise moderation. Plus, much like fats, our bodies need a certain amount of sugar and salt to properly function.
Unless you have specific instructions from a doctor or dietician, feel free to add salt and sugar to your dishes. For women, try limiting your sugar intake to less than six teaspoons a day.
Meanwhile, men should take less than nine teaspoons. Generally, salt consumption should be limited to six grams or less each day. Of course, you don’t have to limit your food flavouring to just salt and sugar. You can get creative with your seasonings by using different spices like paprika and curry powder, or fresh herbs like basil and rosemary.
Contrary to what some people may think, you don’t have to sacrifice taste for better health. With natural ingredients and some creativity, you can create a multitude of delectable dishes from the comfort of your own home, all while saving time and money. Remember, great food is not only satisfying and delightful for your taste buds, but also good for the rest of your body. Time to start cooking healthier today! 😉