Cook up a healthy storm

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Preparing food at home allows you to control the amount of sugar and salt that goes into what you eat. Xinhua

In this modern age, grabbing meals to-go or having them delivered right to our doorsteps seem like the most convenient alternative, especially for working adults who cannot afford the time to cook. With a wide range of dining options available, eating habits have gradually evolved from one that involves actual cooking into one single swipe on a mobile application.

It is time for a reality check. While such habit requires minimal efforts on your end, you can never be certain of what goes into your meals and how they were prepared in the kitchens of these restaurants. Now, doesn’t that thought send shivers down your spine?

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We are here to tell you that home cooking is still the way to go. Why? Mainly because what you put in your mouth will have an effect on your health in the future, if not immediately. As previously discussed in https://www.khmertimeskh.com/548684/its-all-about-balance/, the human body needs energy and nutrients which we obtain from food to perform daily activities.

Cooking at home, for instance, allows you to control the amount of sugar and salt that goes into your own food. This alone would guard you against the risks of critical illnesses such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and diabetes.

Trust us, cooking does not have to be cumbersome too. You do not need to have the culinary prowess like that of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s to enjoy doing it. Here are some of the easiest and healthiest cooking methods for you to try:

Steaming

How: This method involves placing your food over simmering water. It is as easy as it sounds and it only takes between 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the ingredients and your own preferences.

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Pros: Aside from quick and efficient, steaming allows you to retain the fiber, colour, texture and flavour of vegetables. This means you get almost all the nutrients! Reports suggested that if you steam fresh vegetables, you would be able to sustain up to 90 per cent of the antioxidants. Since steaming does not require cooking oil, you can bet this method ticks the ‘healthy meal’ box.

Best food items to steam: vegetables, dumplings, barley and salmon.

Grilling

How: Grilling typically involves exposing surface of food to direct heat, either from above or below. It tends to be used for cooking meat and vegetables quickly.

Pros: All grilled food tastes good. It may not be the healthiest but it is still preferable than other methods such as deep frying. While grilling meat on high heat can cause carcinogens to form, you can reduce the chances by marinating it in certain spices with high antioxidants content like thyme, sage, and garlic. A study showed that these spices can reduce the amount of carcinogens by 60 per cent.

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Best food items to grill: vegetables, meat and seafood.

Stewing

How: Stewing, also known as braising, is a slow cooking method at a lower temperature. It involves cooking in liquid and is widely used to prepare meat, fish and vegetables.

Pros: The longer food items are exposed to the heat, the more nutrients it will lose. However, any of the nutrients leached into the cooking liquid will be retained in the dish itself. Economically, stewing is also a good method as the low temperature ensure no extra usage of fuel. Stewed dish is normally savory and full of complex flavors.

Best food items to stew: any combinations of poultry and vegetables

Boiling

How: This is another easy and quick cooking method. Boiling only requires putting your food items in water over high temperatures. Don’t forget a little touch of salt for flavour.

Pros: Some might argue that boiling strips away vitamins and minerals in vegetables but several studies have shown that some antioxidants ‘reveal’ themselves more when cooked, such as lycopene in tomatoes and beta-carotene in carrots.

Best food items to boil: starchy foods such as rice, noodles and potatoes, eggs and meat

General rule of thumb

Remember, there is not one single cooking method that is flawless. It all boils down to the extra measures you take when preparing your food. Always make an informed decision before deciding how and what to cook. Once you do it regularly enough, you will find healthy cooking to be truly simple and rewarding. Regardless, it is advisable to follow these steps to preserve nutrients as much as you could and improve the health benefits:

1. When it comes to greens, do not overcook them.

2. Ensure the grill is really hot before placing food items to minimise grilling time.

3. If you have to fry, opt for healthier options such as canola, olive or grapeseed oil.

4. Always drain off extra fat before serving.

5. Once cooked, serve your food instantly to avoid greater loss of Vitamin C.

Watching what you eat will bode well for your health but it is always best to stay on the safe side. Get yourself and your loved ones protected with AIA’s life insurance solution which covers 26 conditions of critical illnesses and medical operations in Cambodia and overseas. To inquire further, please contact an AIA Life Planner at 086 999 242.

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