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13 simple cooking hacks to make your meals healthier

Use these cooking tips to have a wholesome, healthy meal every day.

Not everyone possesses great culinary skills but making sure you are cooking healthy meals is possible even if you aren't a master chef. It's only a matter of choosing the right method to cook your food and avoiding common cooking mistakes. Here's a dummy's guide to get you started.

Tips to cook in a healthy way

Use fresh ingredients: One of the best ways to ensure that you are eating healthy is to use fresh, local produce in your cooking. These will have no or fewer preservatives than packaged foods.

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Include all food groups: Healthy cooking consists of including foods from different groups. Says nutritionist Akansha Jhalani, 'A wholesome diet comprises a variety of food groups combined together to give you all the essential nutrients that you need. Both macro and micro nutrients are essential for your body. A good portion of whole grains, dairy, nuts and oilseeds, fruits and vegetables should comprise one's daily diet.'

Use the right cooking oil: The type of cooking you do determines what oil you should use. For example, though olive oil is healthy, if you are cooking on a high flame, it is best to avoid using it as it does not have a high smoke point. Use rice bran oil instead.

Add herbs and spices: One misconception people have about cooking is that more oil equals more flavour. The truth is, it is the other ingredients including herbs and spices which add flavour to food.

Keep salt to a minimum: Excessive salt intake can make you prone to several conditions including high BP. According to WHO, the daily salt intake for an adult should be just about a teaspoon. So when you cook, do not add too much salt. You can squeeze a lemon on your dish or add herbs to flavour your food. Also avoid processed food as they have high salt content.

Healthy cooking methods

Nutritionist Dr Neha Sanwalka lists a few healthy cooking methods you can choose from:

Saut ing: This method is quite healthy as food is cooked in a short time in minimum oil. You constantly keep stir-frying and tossing the veggies on a high flame. Make sure you add only about a tablespoon of oil.

Grilling: This method of cooking is one of the healthiest. You do not require any oil and the food is exposed to high temperatures which means it cooks faster. This helps in retaining the nutrients. It is often done using a grill pan or cooking grill.

Steaming: Another healthy way to retain your food's nutrients is by steaming it. In this method, food is cooked by the use of steam or vapour. It locks in the nutrients and does not require any oil. You can garnish food before you eat it.

Poaching: Though this is a healthy method, you may not be able to poach all food items with the exception of eggs, a few fruits and some meat. Here, a bit of water is used instead of oil or butter to cook food before it reaches its boiling point.

Pressure cooking: This method involves cooking food in a pressure cooker which uses pressure or steam created inside the locked vessel to cook food. It is a healthy way of cooking and also saves time.

Apart from these, one can also bake dishes and instead of deep frying, opt for shallow frying to reduce the amount of oil absorption.

Avoid these cooking mistakes

Resuing oil: Many a times, people use the same oil to fry foods again and again to save oil. This is a very unhealthy practice as it increases the trans-fat content in the oil which can be carcinogenic especially if it used for deep frying.

Keeping cut, raw vegetables uncovered: If you often chop veggies much in advance before the actual cooking, you lose out on several vitamins and minerals as they get destroyed upon exposure to light or heat. So chop them just before you have to cook.

Reheating food too many times: We often have leftovers which we consume over the next few days but an important point to remember while reheating food is to make sure you reheat only what you want to eat and not the whole dish as it will lose its nutrients.

Think a foodie and fitness can't be mentioned in the same breath? Turns out, they can! Saffola has launched its website - fitfoodie.in -- which primarily is for people who love to eat yet are health-conscious. Here, you will find a delightful collection of healthy recipes which have been chosen after much deliberation by Saffola's Fit Foodie expert panel consisting of chefs, nutritionists and foodies.

Image source: Getty Images


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