Top 14 Cooking Hacks to Level Up the Nutritional Value of Your Meals
Cooking at home can be a great way to improve your overall health and wellbeing. However, many people don’t realize that there are ways to make simple tweaks to their cooking routine in order to boost the nutritional value of their meals. In this blog post, you’ll learn about 14 cooking hacks that will help you get the most out of your food!
Cooking from scratch is a trend that is gaining more traction as people realize how much better this is for your health than ready made meals or takeaways. This is because you can control what goes into your meals, giving yourself the chance to choose healthier ingredients and reduce unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. Ready made meals also have various preservatives and additives that you may not want to consume.
Home cooking is the way forward, but how can you get even more mileage out of the meals you prepare at home from a nutritional perspective? Here are 14 cooking hacks to help you do just that.
1. Choose Whole-Grain Alternatives
Opt for whole-grain alternatives instead of refined grains when possible. This will help increase your intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals while also reducing your risk of developing certain chronic illnesses. For example, instead of white pasta, choose whole wheat or quinoa instead. And instead of white rice, opt for brown or wild rice.
2. Increase Plant-Based Proteins
Replacing some of your animal proteins with plant-based proteins can help you consume fewer calories and saturated fats. Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, beans and edamame are excellent sources of plant-based proteins that you can use in a variety of recipes.
3. Cut Down on Salt and Sugar
It’s important to cut down on salt and sugar intake, as they are both linked to a range of chronic diseases. Try to use herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavor to your dishes. When baking, use natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey instead of refined sugars.
4. Add Extra Vegetables
Adding extra vegetables to meals is an easy way to increase the amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber in your diet. Try adding grated carrots or zucchini to your Bolognese or lasagna for an extra nutritional boost. Pink oyster mushrooms are a great way to add a meaty texture and rich flavor to any dish.
5. Use Healthy Oils and Fats
Replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats is an easy way to boost the nutritional value of your meals. Coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil are all excellent sources of healthy fats that you can use for cooking.
6. Go Easy on Processed Foods
Processed foods can be loaded with unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium. Try to limit your intake of processed and pre-packaged foods as much as possible. Instead, opt for fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, which are much healthier options.
7. Start with Healthier Ingredients
Try to choose healthier ingredients when you’re cooking – lean cuts of meat, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and fresh vegetables are all great options. Try to avoid too many processed meats such as sausages, or cured meats such as bacon and ham.
8. Include Healthy Fats
Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds are an excellent way to improve the nutritional value of your meals. These fats can help reduce cholesterol levels and provide essential fatty acids for your body. You can sprinkle nuts and seeds on top of almost any meal too, from porridge to a stir fry.
9. Make Your Own Sauces
It’s much healthier to make your own sauces and dressings than to buy pre-made varieties. This way you can control exactly what goes into them, reducing the amount of sugar, salt and other additives that can be found in pre-made sauces. Almost all pre-made tomato-based pasta sauce has sugar added to it. Whereas if you roast a selection of fresh vegetables and then make it into your own sauce, you really won’t need any sugar to make it tasty.
10. Use Fresh Herbs
Using fresh herbs is a great way to add flavor to your meals without adding too many extra calories. Fresh herbs are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Experiment with different combinations of herbs and spices to find the flavor combinations you like best. Some people think that herbs are just about flavor, but in fact, they have great nutritional qualities too. For example, cilantro contains several minerals, and basil is a good source of vitamin A.
11. Keep Your Portions Under Control
It’s easy to overeat when you’re eating large portions, so try to be aware of your portion sizes. Try using a smaller plate and filling it with smaller portions of food. Eating slowly can also help you to recognize when you’re full, as it takes around 20 minutes for your brain to register that feeling of fullness.
12. Introduce Variety
The key to a healthy diet is variety, so try to introduce as many different ingredients into your meals as possible. This way you’ll get all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that come with eating a balanced diet. You can also experiment with different cooking techniques, flavor combinations and spices. Cooking recipe boxes are great for broadening your horizons when it comes to cooking too, as you’ll be sent all the fresh ingredients you need, and learn new recipes along the way.
13. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Breakfast is an important part of any healthy diet plan, as it helps to kickstart your metabolism and give you energy for the day ahead. Eating a nutritious breakfast will also help to keep you full until lunchtime, reducing your chances of snacking on unhealthy foods. Try to include some protein with your breakfast in the form of eggs or Greek yogurt, and some complex carbohydrates such as oats or whole grain toast.
14. Get Creative in the Kitchen
You don’t have to stick to the same boring recipes all the time. Instead, experiment with different flavors and combinations of food for yourself. This way you’ll be more likely to enjoy your meals, and less likely to get bored and turn to unhealthy food options.
By implementing these 14 cooking hacks, you can make your meals healthier and more enjoyable. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is essential for maintaining good health and wellbeing, so make sure you take the time to prepare healthy meals. With a little planning and creativity, you can easily create delicious, healthy meals for yourself and your family.