We lay so much emphasis on the taste factor in cooking that we often forget that the key to healthy eating lies in not just the food elements that are chosen, but also the way in which these elements are cooked. The process of cooking changes almost all the elements of food except for fat, and therefore, it is essential that we ensure proper and scientific cooking if we want to retain all the goodness of these elements.
If you want to know how to cook healthy recipes, then you also need to know the right manner in which the cooking process should be undertaken.
Any of the healthy recipes cooked without adequate preparation is not likely to give the right benefit that you are seeking from your food. While it is sometimes necessary to indulge in the sensory aspects of cooking, you also need to make sure that you learn how to cook to retain all the goodness in the food.
The dictionary meaning of cooking states that cooking is the process of preparing food for consumption with the application of heat, but this heat can be applied to the food in various ways, and so, we have the various forms of cooking that include roasting, baking, broiling, boiling, simmering, stewing, steaming and frying:
– Roasting – Roasting is a process in which you allow the food to cook in its own juices, and this is done on an open fire most of the time. Also known as grilling, this process uses radiant heat to allow the food to be cooked. In most cases when the food is large or compact, the process of roasting is recommended.
The radiation heat works on the surface of the food and travels inwards to ensure that the food is cooked properly. Since the radiation heat sears the surface of the food, the juices in the food are not allowed to escape and the inside of the large food is cooked in its own juices. It is recommended that the food that is being roasted be turned to ensure even heating.
– Baking – This is a process of cooking in which the food is cooked by the dry heat in an oven that is almost always closed. This is a style of cooking that is often used for food that contains a fair amount of moisture so as to ensure that the food does not dry up or burn in the closed environment. This is because the dry and hot air in the oven tends to take up the moisture in the food. If the food that is put in the oven does not contain adequate moisture, it is likely to get too dry or burnt in the process.
– Boiling – As a well-known process of cooking, boiling requires a fair amount of boiling water for the food to be cooked. As the water boils, it gives out minute bubbles of air, and these tend to form at the base of the vessel as the water increases in temperature. As the bubbles of hot air continue to rise, the water becomes a hub of mechanical energy and soon enough, the water begins to show rapid activity.
Boiling something hurriedly does not ensure that the food will get cooked any faster; it only ensures the wear and tear of the food particles that are in the water. Hurried steaming actually causes a lot of wastage of fuel and also makes food less palatable. In most cases, the liquid used for boiling is water, but there are also some healthy recipes that use milk as the liquid used for boiling. Boiling starchy foods such as macaroni, rice, farina, etc. in water or even milk is recommended since it makes the overall dish more nutritious and fitter for healthy eating.
When using milk for boiling, it should be remembered that milk is denser and creates less steam. However, not many know that it also boils faster than water.
– Stewing – The process of stewing is another process that is commonly used in healthy recipes. It is a process in which food is cooked in a liquid that is kept just below the boiling point. This process is often confused with simmering, which indicates cooking the food at boiling point.
To ensure that the stewing is taking place in a proper manner, you can use a double boiler in which the liquid in the outside vessel boils. This ensures that the liquid in the inner vessel is just below the boiling point since the inner vessel is always a few degrees cooler than the outer one.
– Steaming – Steaming is the form of healthy cooking that uses the heat of the steam to prepare food. There are various ways in which people use steam to cook food. The most common style is to put food in a vessel that has holes and to place this vessel on a pot of boiling water.
Foods that have high water content are best suited for steaming. Sometimes, the vessel that contains food can be put inside another vessel that contains boiling water too. This apparatus is called the double boiler.
– Frying – This is not really a healthy process of cooking food, since it involves cooking what you want to eat in hot fat. Once fat is cooked, it becomes less easy to digest, and therefore, people who are looking at healthy eating should not opt for this method. The process of frying actually requires you to heat up large quantities of fat in a vessel and bring it to a high temperature.
The food is then dropped in the hot oil and allowed to remain in it till it is cooked. Most people drain the excess fat from the outer part of the food, but a large amount of fat is always absorbed in the food while it is being cooked.
Each of these cooking processes, except for frying, allow for healthy recipes and healthy eating if done properly.