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4 Cooking Methods That Ensure Your Meals Remain Nutrient-Rich

Healthy meals are not just about the ingredients but also the cooking method

Think to eat healthy means opening a pre-packaged meal or a box of so-called nutritious snacks? It’s time for a significant change. Chef Pankaj Bhadouria clears the misconception that healthy food means cumbersome cooking. “You don’t have to be a pro to create fresh, low-fat meals that taste good,” says the chef, who is inspiring viewers to cook healthy on her latest show 3 Course with Pankaj 2.

Also Read: Added too much salt? Check out these hacks to rescue your dish

Not Just About Ingredients
“There are plenty of simple ways to whip up a delicious and nutrition-dense dish without adding excess sugar, salt or fat,” explains the chef, and points out that making healthy meals is not just about the ingredients you decide to add or skip.

“Apart from keeping a check on the ingredients, you also need to be mindful of the cooking methods you’re using,” says the chef. The cooking method you employ plays a significant role in determining the nutritional value of your meal. Chef Bhadouria’s favourite healthy cooking methods are steaming, baking, stewing and flash frying. Nutrition experts tell us what makes these cooking methods perfect for a healthy meal.

Also Read: Here’s why you should switch to ‘Clean Eating’

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Steaming
What: This method uses steam to cook food, which is usually generated by boiling water in a pan. You could also use special equipment meant for cooking food with the steaming method, which allows the steam to surround the food.

Benefits: “Steam cooking food not only helps you retain the nutritive value of the ingredients but also helps to preserve its colour, shape and texture,” says B Srilakshmi, author of Food Science. There are also fewer chances of overcooking or burning your meal in the process.

Steam cooking a meal makes it easy to digest as this cooking method does not require the addition of too much fat. “The ingredients don’t dry out when steamed since they are cooked in a moist, steamy atmosphere, and they need little to no fat to cook,” points out Annette Yates, author of Steaming!.

Types: B Srilakshmi explains that there are three types of steaming – wet, dry and waterless. A good example of wet steaming is idli whereas an example of dry steaming is custard, which is made on a double boiler. Waterless steaming involves cooking food by wrapping it in an aluminium foil which ensures that the flavour doesn’t escape.

Must Try Recipe: Steamed tomato and spinach rice dumplings by chef Ranveer Brar

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Also Read: Chef Pankaj Bhadouria’s Hacks to Perfectly Fluffy Idlis

Baking
What
: “To bake is to cook food by inducing dry heat in an oven,” explains Shruti Kumbla, senior nutritionist, Pristine Organics. If you thought baking is just meant for cakes and desserts, Kumbla says, “You can bake just about anything from vegetables, bread, fish, chicken to meat. These items can be cooked well in an oven with less amount of fat.”

Getting It Right: The secret to perfect cooking using the baking method depends on the ratio between the oven’s temperature and the baking time, adds Kumbla. The size and weight of the dish determines this ratio.

Must Try Recipe: Chicken and rice casserole with spinach and shiitake mushrooms by chef Vaibhav Mahajan

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Also Read: 6 ways you can use lemon around the house and not just in the kitchen

Stewing
What: In Food Science, stewing is explained as a slow method of cooking in which food is prepared in a pan or pot by using small quantities of liquid. “The liquid is first brought to a boiling point, and then the heat is reduced to maintain the cooking at a simmering temperature, i.e. 98 degrees Celsius,” writes B Srilakshmi in her book.

Benefits: Steaming may seem like a time-consuming cooking method but preparing meals by stewing ensures that important nutrients are not lost in the process. Root vegetables and meat are the best candidates for this cooking method. Gujarat’s winter favourite, undhiyu, is also prepared using the stewing cooking method.

Also Read: 4 ways to keep your refrigerator squeaky clean at all times

Flash Frying
What
: This cooking method, also known as explode frying, serves as an alternative to deep frying. Unlike deep frying, in flash frying the ingredients don’t remain submerged in oil for a long time, explains Finlay Lynch in the book Clean Eating – a Simple Guide. Instead, they are fried in a pan full of oil at an extremely high temperature for very little time.

Benefits: Since the food is in the pan for an extremely short period, it doesn’t get enough time to absorb the oil. This cooking method is ideal for leafy vegetables. Flash frying also helps to lock the food’s flavour. 

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