Eating healthy food doesn’t mean giving up your favourite foods. Your favourite recipes can be adapted easily to provide a healthier alternative. There are many ways to make meals healthier. Limit fats, sugars and salt and include plenty of vegetables, fruit, grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy in your cooking. Foods with added fats, sugars or salt are less healthy than food in which these are found naturally.
One problem for many is that they are novices in the kitchen and are worried that it will take too much time and effort to prepare healthy meals themselves at home. Instead they rely on fast food and pre-made convenience foods which are proven to have long-term harmful health impacts, including weight gain, heart disease and increased cholesterol levels.
Home cooking does not have to be difficult though, especially if you want you and your family to eat more healthily. Here are 50 simple tips to try:
1. Add mustard to broccoli to season
Broccoli is packed full of vitamin B; mustard will help you digest it much better.
2. Add sesame seeds to your diet
Sesame is rich in calcium. Garnish your salads and other dishes with sesame seeds to make them healthy and visually appealing.
3. Add spices
Spices and herbs not only flavour any dish, they are also very good for your health. Add your favourite spices to all the dishes to boost your immune system.
Always read recipes
Always read and re-read your recipes before you start cooking.
4. Always taste your food
Always taste your food before seasoning.
5. Avoid canned and pickled vegetables
Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled vegetables tend to be packaged with salt.
6. Check if fish is fresh before cooking
Fish that is not fresh can be harmful to your health. Check by dropping the fish into deep water. If it sinks then it is safe to eat. However, if it comes to the surface, it is safest to throw it away.
7. Choose lean cuts of meat
Choose lean meat cuts and skinless chicken breasts.
8. Choose whole grain instead of refined products
Choose whole grain for recipes instead of highly refined products. Use whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and whole cornmeal.
9. Cook in cast iron cookware.
Cast iron pans and skillets are the best for cooking. Cast iron gives off no dangerous elements unlike some other cookware materials.
10. Cook in the oven
Baking is one of the healthiest ways to cook, and far preferable to frying.
11. Cooking sprays
If you need to use oil, try cooking sprays or apply a small amount of oil with a pastry brush.
12. Cook vegetables in boiling water
When you are cooking vegetables, it is better to place them into boiling water rather than cold to preserve more nutrients and vitamins.
13. Crack your eggs on a flat surface
Crack your eggs on a flat surface to avoid getting bits of the shell in your food.
14. Do not combine cucumbers and tomatoes
Whilst it is one of the most popular salad combinations of all, it is not healthy. This is because cucumbers contain a ferment that destroys the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) contained in tomatoes.
15. Dried Herbs rather than fresh
Dried herbs are more strongly flavoured than fresh. As a general rule, one teaspoon of dried herbs equals four teaspoons of fresh.
16. Drink lemon green tea
Green tea is rich in antioxidants, and lemon helps our bodies digest them better. So, when you drink your green tea, drop a slice of lemon in it.
17. Drink more water
Many adults are dehydrated because they do not drink enough water. An adult should drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water every day. Drink enough to boost your metabolism, clean the organisms, and keep looking your best.
18. Eat 3 or 4 hours before going to bed
Your body should rest at night; therefore try not to overload your stomach with food that is hard to digest. 3 or 4 hours will be enough for your stomach to digest dinner and be ready for sleep.
19. Eat dark chocolate
Eat chocolate containing 70% of cocoa or more. It boosts your brain and improves the immune and cardiovascular systems.
20. Eat fruit and vegetables in season
Buy vegetables and fruits when they are in season. During this period they contain the largest amount of vitamins and micronutrients.
21. Eat less salt
Try to reduce the amount of salt you receive from food. Salt has negative effects on our health. For example, it retains water and causes many other health problems.
22. Eat less sugar
Sugar is the single most harmful threat to your health. Try to eat it as little as possible. You can use a pinch of stevia or dried fruit when baking.
23. Eat more nuts
Nuts are a source of omega-3 fatty acids which are good for the body. So add some to any vegetable and meat dishes.
24. Eat salad greens
Salad greens are full of benefits and antioxidants – adding chopped greens to your dishes makes them spicy and beneficial.
25. Eat slowly
When you eat slowly and chew the food thoroughly, your stomach has time to send the signal to your brain that it is full.
26. Freeze vegetables
Frozen vegetables retain a great part of the vitamins and minerals fresh vegetables contain. You can keep them in the freezer for quite a long period.
27. Keep vegetables fresh for longer
To keep your vegetables fresh and healthy, place them on paper towels in the fridge. They will soak up extra water and preserve the vegetables from decaying.
28. Let meat rest
Let cooked or grilled meat rest at room temperature before serving.
29. Limit fast foods and unhealthy snacks
Limit fast foods, chips, crisps, processed meats, pastries and pies, which all contain large amounts of fat.
30. Limit the use of processed sauces and condiments
Reduce your use of soy sauce, tomato sauce and processed sauces and condiments (for example, mayonnaise and salad dressings) because they contain high levels of salt.
31. Make smoothies
Smoothies are the simplest way to get a daily portion of vitamins and supplements. Use milk or natural yogurt as the base and add any vegetables and fruit you like.
32. Never overcrowd your pan or skillet
Never overcrowd your pan or skillet with food. The heat will not distribute evenly.
33. Reduce your intake of cheese
Most cheeses are very high in salt so limit your intake or choose lower salt varieties.
34. Replace butter with oil
Try to replace the use of butter when cooking with delicate and flavoured oils such as almond or coconut oil.
35. Replace cream with healthier alternatives
Use low-fat yoghurt, low-fat milk, evaporated skim milk or corn starch instead of cream in sauces or soups.
36. Scrub rather than peel vegetables
Scrub vegetables rather than peel them, as many nutrients are found close to the skin.
37. Secure your chopping board
To prevent your cutting board from slipping around, place a wet paper towel underneath.
38. Shut the stove off before eggs are done
The trick with eggs is not to overcook them. Whether you scramble, fry, or poach, always turn off the stove a few minutes before the eggs look done – even when they seem a bit runny. The remainder of the heat will cook them to fluffy perfection.
39. Spend a little time on presentation
You are more likely to enjoy a meal if it is visually appealing as well as tasty.
40. Steam vegetables
Steaming, rather than boiling, is the healthiest and easiest way to cook vegetables.
41. Stir fry
Include more stir-fry recipes in your diet. Stir-fried vegetables are cooked quickly to retain their crunch (and associated nutrients).
Make stock in large quantities and freeze in plastic bags for later use.
43. Store spices in the right location
To prolong the life of your spices, keep them in a cool, dark place. Do not store them on top of the stove, as heat and humidity can alter their flavour.
44. Try different kinds of coatings
We are used to flour and breadcrumbs, but they are not the only ones. Try to coat your foods in sesame seeds, ground nuts, chickpeas, lentil flour, or rolled oats. Your dishes will become healthier and have a little bit of a different flavour.
45. Use natural yoghurt instead of store-bought sauces
The sources which you buy in supermarkets contain enormous amounts of additives and preservatives in them. Instead, consider making a homemade sauce from yoghurt.
46. Use smaller plates
If you serve foods on smaller plates, you will get used to eating less.
47. Use sea salt instead of table salt
In addition to sodium chloride, sea salt also contains potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, ferric, iodine, and many other essential micronutrients.
48. Use whole wheat flour
Whole wheat flour is much better for your health than wheat flour.
49. Use healthy sugar substitutes
You should use healthy sweeteners instead of sugar – honey, for example. But try not to heat it up, because honey loses all its benefits under high temperatures. So do not add it to your cup of hot tea.
50. When baking, use fruit puree instead of butter.
When baking cakes use fruit puree instead of the butter. It will make your desserts less fatty and unhealthy. The best variants are apple or pumpkin purees.