10 Ways to Quick and Healthy Cooking

It's meal time and you want it to be healthy, but your family just wants to eat now! To solve this dilemma, read on for the best way to make a quick and healthy meal.

  1. SET UP YOUR KITCHEN FOR SPEED When you store kitchen equipment and ingredients where you use them and in the same place everytime, you won't lose time searching for what you need. Keep potholders, wooden spoons, pots, pans, and baking sheets as close to the oven and range as possible. Store flour, spices, mixing bowls, an electric mixer, rubber spatulas, and measuring cups and spoons near where you mix. The best place for a cutting board and knives is near the sink.
  2. USE LOW-FAT CONVENIENCE FOODS Low-fat and nonfat products have improved in flavor and texture over the past few years. Recommendations are the following: low-fat and nonfat cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheeses; Italian-style, Mexican-style, or roasted garlic-flavored canned tomatoes; low fat spaghetti sauces; and flavored couscous or rice mixes.
  3. BUY FOOD PREPPED FOR USE You'll get a jump start on any healthy meal when you use shredded cabbage, packaged cut vegetables, cut vegetables from the salad bar, prewashed spinach, precooked pasta, parboiled rice, shredded cheese, chicken strips or cubes, and trimmed and boned meat. You'll pay a bit extra for these convenience items, but it's worth it when you need to cook in a hurry.
  4. READ THE RECIPE Read the entire recipe before you cook. That way, if the chicken dish is served with rice, you can cook the rice while you cook the chicken. If you cook the chicken first, then discover you need cooked rice, you'll add an extra 10 to 20 minutes to the cooking time. Reading recipe first is a quick and healthy cooking habit.
  5. STICK TO NONSTICK SKILLETS Thanks to the new nonstick coatings, you can get by with a teaspoon or less of vegetable oil to brown even the leanest meats. Sometimes, just a coating of cooking spray will do the trick.
  6. PULL OUT THE WOK Cooking time is a matter of minutes if the wok is hot enough before you add the meat and vegetables. Quick cooking is great for your health as well, because there isn't time for nutrients to leach out of the food. And when you cook the healthy meal in one dish, cleanup is a snap.
  7. GET STEAMING Steam cooking is good for speed and health. Food cooks quickly, and nutrients stay in the food instead of being lost in cooking water. To steam food, use bamboo steaming baskets or collapsible metal ones that fit inside standard pots.
  8. MICROWAVE WHENEVER YOU CAN Like steaming, microwave cooking helps vegetables retain nutrients because you cook them covered in a small amount of water. You also can partially cook meats and casseroles in the microwave, then just finish the cooking in the oven or on the grill.
  9. GRILL OUT (OR IN) Grilling is a quick way to cook because you don't have messy pans to clean. Even more important, it's healthier because fat literally drips away from meat as it cooks.
  10. DON'T DIRTY THE DISHES Unless you love to wash dishes, use these tips to save some cleanup.
  • Before you use the food processor to mix a wet or messy mixture, first chop or shred dry ingredients like nuts and cheese.
  • Take a few minutes to chop extra nuts, breadcrumbs, or vegetables, and freeze them in small amounts for future use.
  • Chop tomatoes right in the can with kitchen scissors.
  • Measure dry ingredients before wet ones.
  • Seal crackers or cookies in a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling pin.
  • Marinate food in a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag; then throw away the bag when you're finished.

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