Healthy cooking methods and recipes

Michele Borboa, MS

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In combination with your New Year's resolutions to better your diet and feed your family healthy, wholesome meals, the beginning of the New Year is an opportune time to try new foods and recipes, learn new cooking methods and put your often overlooked cookware and appliances to use. You don't have to be a gourmet chef to cook healthy meals, you simply need to put the healthiest cooking methods into practice when preparing your family's meals.


Healthy cooking methods for delicious meals

Learning the lingo for healthy cooking is the first step in incorporating healthy cooking methods into your everyday kitchen time. Here's a helpful glossary of the healthiest cooking methods, as listed in the newest release from Dr. Donald Hensrud and the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic, The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat Well. Enjoy Life. Lose Weight. These cooking methods best capture the flavor and retain the nutrients in your food without adding too many calories or too much fat or salt. We've also included ChefMom's favorite recipes for each cooking method to inspire you to get in your kitchen and cook healthy meals.


Besides breads and desserts, you can bake seafood, poultry, lean meat, and vegetable and fruit pieces of the same size. Place food in a pan or dish (covered or uncovered) and bake. You may need to baste the food with broth, low-fat marinade or juice to keep the food from drying out. Baked Grapefruit


Braising involves browning a lean meat or poultry first in a pan on top of the stove, and then slowly cooking it covered with a small amount of liquid, such as water or broth. In some recipes, the cooking liquid is used afterward to form a flavorful, nutrient-rich sauce. Chicken Braised in Tomato Wine Sauce

Grilling and broiling

Both grilling and broiling expose fairly thin pieces of food to direct heat and allow fat to drip away from the food. If you're grilling outdoors, place smaller items, such as chopped vegetables, in a long-handled grill basket or on foil to prevent pieces from slipping through the rack. To broil indoors, place food on a broiler rack below a heat element. Grilled vegetables


To poach foods, in a covered pan gently simmer ingredients in water or a flavorful liquid, such as broth, vinegar or juice, until cooked through and tender. For stove-top poaching, choose an appropriate-sized covered pan and use a minimum amount of liquid. Saffron Poached Salmon


Roasting uses an oven's dry heat at high temperatures to cook the food on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. For poultry, seafood and meat, place a rack inside the roasting pan so that the fat can drip away during cooking. Roasted Chicken and Peaches


Sautéing quickly cooks small or thin pieces of food. If you choose a good-quality nonstick pan, you can cook food without using fat. Depending on the recipe, use low-sodium broth, cooking spray, water or wine in place of oil or butter. Sauteed Vegetables and Couscous


One of the simplest cooking techniques to master is steaming food in a perforated basket suspended above simmering liquid. If you use a flavorful liquid or add herbs to the water, you'll flavor the food as it cooks. Wine Steamed Trout


Stir-frying quickly cooks small, uniform-sized pieces of food while they're rapidly stirred in a wok or large nonstick frying pan. You need only a small amount of oil or cooking spray for this cooking method. Healthy Chickpea Stir-fry

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Michele Borboa, MS
Michele Borboa, MS is a contributing editor for specializing in health, fitness, and all things food. She is a veteran health and fitness professional, personal chef, and mom in Bozeman, Montana. She is also the author of the time-saving cookbook Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy (Fair Winds Press, July 2011). You can contact Michele at or give her a tweet at