Find the Best Cooking Method for Healthy Meals

The best cooking method retains most of the vitamins, fiber, and minerals of the food

The significant key to healthy meals is not only the ingredients that we choose but how we prepare and cook them. We are in a world where we are offered with instant foods, veggies and fruits are loaded with chemicals to look “beautiful”, and processed foods seem so attractively convenient.

How we prepare and cook our meals can affect the nutritional features of our dishes. Heat can destroy about 15% to 20% of vitamins in the vegetables, particularly Vitamin C, potassium, and folate. We make a list of cooking methods that are widely used but give you some useful tips to at least preserve the vitamins and minerals that raw plant ingredients have. Some raw food enthusiasts claim that uncooked foods keep all the nutritional value and promotes optimal health.

Just remember that there are some foods benefit from cooking but foods like carrots, tomatoes, and spinach break down cell walls and release antioxidants through heat.



credit: woks of life

Steaming is cooking food in an enclosed setting steeped with steam.  There are several ways of steaming foods: with a covered and perforated basket that lies above a pot of boiling water, or with foil or parchment wrapper, or the famous Chinese bamboo steamers that is placed on top of wok, or with modern electric steamers.

Steaming seals and cooks in flavor. It removes the need for more fats during the food preparation. It preserves nutrients better compared to other cooking techniques except for microwave. This cooking method ideal for fish and shellfish because it does not dry out tender flesh.

Using this cooking method for fresh vegetables and fish fillets allows stewing in their own juices and keeps their natural features. You do not have to add more fat-laden ingredients to spice up the moisture. It is good to add initially a bit of seasoning such as a sprinkle of salt or a squeeze of lemon juice.

Steaming is also good for cooking little “green trees” like broccoli to preserve its carcinogen-fighting glucosinolates. When glucosinolates is inside the body, they become compounds which is known as isothiocyanates that impede the growth of cancer cells.

Steaming is excellent for vegetables like zucchini, asparagus, pears, green beans, fish fillets, shellfish, and chicken breasts.

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Image result for Microwaved Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic

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Microwaving is cooking foods through heating from the inside-out. Microwave releases radio waves that “stimulate” the food molecules that produces heat, thus, cooking food. To prevent the food to dry out, spray water before heating and put a wet paper towel over your food. You do not have to put more oils. Some studies claim that microwaving is one of the best ways to preserve nutrients in vegetables.

Microwaving is great for fish, chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, spinach, potatoes, carrots, and apples.

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credit: ndtv

Boiling method is fast and simple. You only have to put or add water and a pinch of salt. However, high temperature and huge amount of water may melt and wash away water-soluble vitamins. Some studies claim that boiling is an excellent way to preserve nutrients in zucchini, carrots, and broccoli rather than steaming, eating them raw, or frying.

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poaching method

credit: food & wine magazine

Poaching needs no additives. Poaching is cooking foods with little hot water or just below boiling point. It may take a little longer and some nutritionists suggest that it may reduce the retention of nutrients. However, it is believed that poaching is an excellent way to cook delicate foods such as fruits, eggs, and fish.

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credit: eatthismuch

Broiling involves cooking foods by exposing food to direct heat via gas or electric stove where food is usually placed in the bottom of the oven. The method is similar to grilling but the heat in grilling comes from below while broiling comes from above the stove.

Since heat should be constant, all you need to do is to place the food closer or farther from the heat or flame, depending on how you want your food cooked. The thinner the cut, the closer the flame or heat should be so that it may scorch the surface of food and leaving the interior of the meat less cooked.

Broiling is dry-heat way of cooking lean beef cuts and chicken which is marinated first with no added oil.

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credit: Family Circle

Stir-frying is cooking at high heat for a short time and since the food is cooked very fast, the ingredients should be cut into tiny and uniform pieces to make sure that each ingredient is fully cooked. This cooking method needs focus because it needs continuous stirring and tossing of the ingredients to avoid the food from sticking to the cooking pan.

A great way to stir-fry foods is using a wok. The sloping sides and rounded bottom are made so that the foods are quickly browned in the “belly” of the pot and move up to the sides where it slowly completes the cooking.

Old Chinese woks are made with cast iron and it takes a longer time to heat up. However, modern woks are made from carbon steel which quickly heats up and cools down. Wok is put on a metal ring placed on top of the burner. Oil is added when wok is already very hot, and then food is followed.

Stir-fry cooking method is best for pork, chicken, shrimps, tofu, scallops, cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, and eggplant.

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credit: Paleo Plan

To retain nutrients without sacrificing the tastes, grilling is best cooking method. It needs lesser fats and gives smoky flavor while maintaining the meat and vegetables tender and juicy. However, the downside is that studies show that when one is eating charred food on a regular basis or well-done meat increases the risks of pancreatic and breast cancers.

Cooking at high heat can generate a chemical reaction on the fat and protein in meat that may cause toxins and result to imbalance of antioxidants in the body and inflammation, diabetes and heart diseases.

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no cook method

credit: Healthy Meals Team

Some research show that there are various benefits of integrating raw foods into your diet. Health experts also believe that eating “rainbow” constantly lowers cancer risks. When diet is plant-based, you tend to consume more vitamins, fiber, and minerals – without added sugar and fats caused by cooking.

However, research also claims that cooking may enhance some nutrients such as lycopene found in tomatoes and antioxidants in carotenoids found in spinach and carrots, peppers, and sweet potatoes.

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