Making food healthier is a goal many of us try to commit to, but it often seems like an overwhelming challenge. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth – with the right approach to meal preparation, you can enjoy the same meals you always have, without the energy overheads. This is made possible through both cooking methods and ingredient substitution, and is a great way to make a significant difference to your diet. Read on to learn more!
Changing up the preparation method
Although ingredient substitution might seem like the most obvious way to manage energy in a meal, preparing foods in different ways can also help minimise kilojoule density in meals. There are certain cooking techniques that require fats – such as deep frying and pan frying – that can contribute significant fat to a meal needlessly, yet these remain popular options for many.
Here we present a few great alternatives to food preparation that are guaranteed to save you kilojoules (and potentially time as well!).
Baking and roasting foods, like vegetables and meats (both lean and fatty) is possible with cuts of meat that are already fatty. In instances where meat is lean, liquids such as chicken stock, wine or broth can be regularly added to help the meat retain moisture. Let your imagination run wild – the chicken stock used in conjunction with a sweet mustard spice blend is one great example.
Poaching is an especially good way to prepare chicken, as it reaps consistently good results and requires no additional fats. It’s also a great way to prepare eggs (great for saving kilojoules in a fry up) and fish. Poaching does require attention, so make sure you know how long your foods should be left simmering before they are properly cooked.
Rather than frying fish, steaming is also another great option. Steaming is also a very fast way to cook, so you’ll be getting dinner to the table quicker! Pair your fish with steamed veggies and you have yourself a high protein, low fat meal to be proud of.
Stir Frying, especially with the use of a seasoned or non-stick wok, has the advantage of only requiring small amounts of oil. After you lightly coat the wok, high heat becomes your friend while your food is being cooked. Because of this, stir frying is a great way to cook both meats and vegetables.
Broiling and grilling are both great techniques for reducing the need for cooking fats like butter and oil. Only small amounts of oil are needed to cover the grill or broiler, and if your cut of meat has skin, you can keep this on during cooking before removing it for serving. This way, you’ll avoid the need for extra fats entirely.
Swapping out high kilojoule density ingredients for similar ingredients with less fat, sugar and carbohydrates is a simple way to consume less kilojoules while still being able to enjoy your favourite meals.
Swapping white grains for brown is one of the easiest moves you can make when preparing dishes, but it’s one that can go beyond swapping white toast for multigrain. Multigrain pasta can be substituted for regular pasta when making a midweek mushroom fettuccine, as can brown jasmine rice be swapped for a regular jasmine. Make sure to look for a brown alternative when preparing a carb heavy dish – it’s likely you won’t have trouble finding one, and you’ll be rewarded by a much slower release of energy and extra fibre, vitamins and minerals!
Using Greek yoghurt in place of sour cream can work wonders to cutting fat. Low fat Greek yoghurts on the market today have a similar consistency and (some would say) taste, but with a fraction of the kilojoules. Greek yoghurts also have much more protein than their cream counterparts. Greek yoghurt can be used wherever sour cream might be used – baked potatoes, as a soup garnish, and for a wide range of dips.
Preparing zucchini noodles, or zoodles, instead of spaghetti is a great way to minimise carbohydrate intake. Zucchini noodles can be made using a spiralizer, a kitchen utensil that transforms raw vegetables into delicious spaghetti spirals. Zoodles have many benefits over regular spaghetti – not only do they have far less total kilojoules, they also have less carbohydrates and more vitamins and minerals. This means that you can have larger portion sizes while still being able to effectively regulate energy intake!