Making changes to your lifestyle can sometimes seem daunting and so these are often put off until another day. But we all know that if we start small, it is always better to have a go at something today rather than delay until tomorrow, and trying some new cooking techniques is a simple place to start.
Top tips for healthier cooking
There are ways in which you can prepare and cook foods which make the most of the nutrients naturally present and help us to cut down on saturated fat, sugar and salt. To find out about what makes a varied and balanced diet, click here.
Avoid frying meat, poultry and fish in too much oil or fat
Alternative options include:
Grill and griddle - grill meat under a preheated grill on a medium heat. Or preheat a ridged griddle pan to very hot, brush pieces of meat or fish with a little oil and cook quickly on both sides.
Bake - wrap fish or chicken and herbs in lightly oiled foil parcels and bake in the oven.
Dry-frying - cook mince, sausages and bacon on a moderate heat until the fat and juices run. Increase the heat and continue until browned. Drain off fat before continuing.
Stir-frying - a fast way to cook bite-sized pieces or strips of meat, poultry and fish, using minimal oil over a high heat. Keep stirring to ensure even cooking.
Poach - simmer fish in a shallow layer of liquid, such as milk or stock, over a medium heat or in the oven.
Roast - place your roast on a rack in a pan to allow the fat to drip down. Later, discard the fat but retain the juices for the gravy. This is good for larger pieces of meat such as pork joints, lamb legs and rib of beef.
Casserole - before casseroling, make sure you fry meat first in batches to seal the outside, then cook gently until tender.
Barbecue - barbecuing meat and fish can impart wonderful flavours, especially if you marinade first. Always cook the food thoroughly.
Steam and microwave - both methods help retain essential nutrients, taste and texture. Steam whole fish and microwave fillets.
Keep an eye on the fat
- Buy lean cuts of meat.
- Trim the fat off of meat. You can buy Waitrose Aberdeen Angus beef lean mince which is only 5% fat.
- Use half fat versions of dairy products instead of the full fat versions where you can.
- Use strongly flavoured cheese in cooking as you’ll need less.
- Cook with olive oil or sunflower oil rather than lard or butter.
- Grilling, steaming, poaching, microwaving and baking are ways of cooking without having to use oils.
- If coating food in oil, e.g., roast potatoes, add a teaspoon of oil to a sandwich bag, add the potatoes to the bag and shake to coat the potatoes. This will use far less oil than drizzling oil over them in a baking tray.
- Serve desserts with low fat yogurt or half fat crème fraiche instead of full fat cream.
Flavouring your food
Limit the amount of salt you add to meals during cooking or at the table.
Use herbs, spices, or lemon juice to enhance the flavour of the food instead of salt.
Think about portion size, smaller portions = less calories. Try using smaller plates to help achieve this.
Weigh out the ingredients before you cook to cut down portion size and wastage.
Don’t forget the fruit and vegetables - let them fill half of your plate to help you reach your 5-a-day.
Top tips for adding more variety and nutrients to dishes
Spinach - Fold baby spinach through risotto.
Savoy Cabbage - Finely shred and add to soups.
Strawberries - Marinade for 10mins in a little sugar and serve on Greek yogurt.
Cod - Cook with the skin on to maintain the shape.
Lentils - Buying cooked lentils save a lot of time.
Chick peas - Add to pasta for a crunch.
Garlic - Try not to burn your garlic when frying in oil, as this will change the flavour of the dish.
Lemon and lime - Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to rice helps bring out flavour.
Herbs - Refresh fres herbs like parsley in cold water and lemon juice to give it a fresh garden feel.
Pine nuts - Dry-frying in a hot pan releases the natural oil, which brings out a wonderful flavour and aroma.
Why not try making some nutritious and delicious LOVE Life recipes?
How can Waitrose help?
Waitrose offers healthier alternatives to your favourites that are either lower in fat, saturated fat, sugar or calories. Look out for the distinctive black and white band on the front of pack. For more information on balanced diets, visit Balancing your diet.
Nutrition Advice Service
Tel: 0800 188884