Basic Cooking Terms for Healthy Home Chefs

Are you the type of at-home cook who uses the same technique for “grilling” as you do for “sautéing”? Using the proper cooking techniques can make or break a nutritious dish, but many people don’t know the true meaning of most of these terms. This helpful list will ensure that you use the most effective cooking techniques for every healthy meal. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Grill. Ideal for chicken, firmer seafood and hearty vegetables, grilling is a common cooking method that can be done on a stovetop or an outdoor grill.

2. Broil. Broiling is a great technique for dishes that require a crispy surface. It can be used for chicken, salmon, tuna or other lean meats.

3. Sauté. This light stir-frying method is effective on thin cuts of chicken or most vegetables, from mushrooms to kale to zucchini. By using olive oil or another healthy oil, you can add robust flavor without adding fat to your dish.

4. Poach. Ideal for salmon, flounder, trout and other white fishes, poaching uses boiling water to gently cook and add moisture to fish.

5. Steam. Steaming vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, green beans or carrots is one of the healthiest ways to prepare them. By using boiling water in the bottom of a sauce pan, you’ll have tender vegetables in a matter of minutes.

Basic Cooking Instructions [NIH]

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Healthy Seafood Recipes for Lunch or Dinner

Many home chefs are often intimidated by preparing seafood, either because of its delicate texture or because they simply don’t know which types to buy. These tasty and nutritious recipes can take the guesswork out of cooking with fish, shrimp and other types of seafood.

Baja-Style Salmon Tacos
Unlike many restaurant tacos, this recipe adds up to just 325 calories and is packed with 24 grams of necessary protein. The grilled salmon and whole wheat tortillas give these Baja-style fish tacos a healthy makeover that’s still a flavorful treat.

Fish Veronique
A traditional dish with a healthy, modern twist, this recipe for Fish Veronique creates a comfort food that won’t break your diet. By removing the fat from the chicken broth and using low-fat milk, you can create a decadent, creamy sauce with none of the extra fat or calories.

Baked Red Snapper With Zesty Tomato Sauce
Create an elegant dinner for your family or your guests with this low-fat, low-calorie Italian fish dish. Use your choice of either red snapper or bass to find the taste you prefer, and top with zesty tomato sauce for major flavor.

For more nutritious meals using seafood, visit the NIH website here.

Cream Of The Crop: Essential Farmers’ Market Eats

Farmer’s markets are cropping up all over the country, as people become more and more interested in getting food from local sources. Producers are bringing fresh food at great prices. Here are five foods you should certainly try from the farmer’s market next time you go:

Eggs are one of the best things to get fresh. The difference in consistency and flavor between a store-bought egg and one fresh from the hen is jarring. The yolk is brighter, firmer, and much tastier. If your farmer offers duck eggs, try those too – they fluff up amazingly and are great for baking.

Potatoes might seem like a funny thing to buy from a farmer’s market, but they are amazing. Usually much smaller than store-bought spuds, fresh potatoes are deeply flavorful and complex. Slice them thinly and roast them with onions.

Seasonal tomatoes are some of the best things to buy at the farmer’s market. In the late summer and early fall, when they’re coming fresh off the vine, you can get enormous heirloom tomatoes that are great for sandwiches or just eating with a little salt and pepper.

One of the best things to do with farmer’s market produce is teach yourself about pickling and canning. If you’ve never made pickled beets, they’re a delicious treat – sweet, tangy, salty, and savory all at once.

Local cheeses can be delectable as well. Many dairies produce artisanal cheeses that are robust with flavor. They also often provide samples to try before you buy.

Five Healthy and Convenient Pack-It-Yourself Office Lunches

Lunch is, for many Americans, the least healthy meal of the day. Shrinking lunch breaks and fast food restaurants on every corner make it too easy to eat bad food in the middle of the workday. Packing your own lunch is much healthier, but it can be time-consuming and inconvenient. Here are some ideas for high-quality lunches to bring from home.

Salads are an excellent way to keep lunch healthy. Accent them with grilled or baked chicken and make sure to add some extras for texture and flavor. Some excellent low-calorie ways to make salads sing include roasted nuts and olives.

Pasta is a filling, inexpensive thing to pack for meals, but there’s a few tricks you can do with it to make it even better. Add a can of beans for protein, fiber and calories to keep you full until dinner.

Making wraps out of low-calorie tortillas and sliced vegetables is a great alternative to a fatty sandwich. Use hummus to give it a little flavor and texture.

Egg salad is a healthy way to get protein and fat into your diet. Accompany it with tart watercress, peppery arugula and a variety of sliced vegetables.

Tuna is one of the best fish to eat for a diet, as it’s packed with protein and essential fatty acids. Eat it in a wrap or as a salad.

Great Grains: Five Exceptional Rice Recipes

Rice is one of the major staple grains for cultures the world over, and it’s incredibly diverse. You can prepare it a number of different ways and it melds well with all kinds of flavors. If you’re sick of plain white rice with a little salt and butter, here are five different ways to make it.

Fried rice is one of the simplest and easiest things to do with rice. Let a pot cool and then toss in a hot pan with diced vegetables, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. For extra protein, crack an egg or two into the mixture as you’re cooking it.

An Indian cuisine inspired take on rice is the biryani, a delicious pan-cooked dish that uses a paste of cashews, mint, coriander and coconut to flavor it. Cook jasmine or Basmati rice the standard way in a pot of water, but remove halfway through the process and drain. Then bake in a covered pan with the rest of the ingredients until the rice is done.

You can actually use rice to make a delicious dessert. Instead of cooking it in plain water, simmer it slowly in milk for an hour until it becomes soft and pudding-like. Then stir in cinnamon, a little bit of sugar and raisins.

One interesting thing to do with leftover rice is to let it cool and then blend it into a paste in a food processor. Lay the paste out on a non-stick cookie sheet, roll it flat and bake it into a thin rice cake. You can use this as a starch for dishes or slice them and sautee them with a variety of sauces.

Risotto is one of the world’s most popular rice dishes. Made with large-grained Arborio rice, the basic process involves slowly adding stock to a pan of rice and continually stirring the contents, letting the liquid get absorbed as much as possible into the fragrant grains.

Five of the Planet’s Healthiest Foods

As a New Year swings into motion, many people make resolutions to lead a healthier lifestyle. Whether or not you’ve put “better health” at the top of your resolutions list this year, you’ll benefit from adding some of these nutrient-dense superfoods into your diet:
 
Kale
Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable that is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with Vitamins K, C, and A, as well as many other health-enriching vitamins and minerals. It is noted as a particularly strong food source in the prevention of cancer, due to its antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Kale is easy to grow, wash, and prepare, and can be used in a variety of dishes. 
 
Blueberries
Blueberries continually land on the top of healthy food lists, known for having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, seasonings, and spices. Many studies have shown that their unique phytonutrient content has a positive effect on the human cardiovascular system. They can be delicious when eaten in pies and other cooked dishes but are particularly beneficial to one’s health when consumed raw.
 
Garlic
Garlic is an undeniably scrumptious and aromatic enhancement to countless dishes and it has the added benefit of being one of the healthiest foods you can consume. Studies have shown that garlic can lower blood triglycerides and total cholesterol while also protecting blood cells and vessels from inflammatory stress.  
 
Spelt
Spelt is a highly nutritious grain with a rich nutty flavor. Think of it as wheat’s much healthier cousin. In fact, it can often be used as a smart alternative for wheat in products such as pasta and bread. Packed with manganese, protein, copper, and zinc, spelt can help with lowering cholesterol, protecting against heart failure, contributing to cancer prevention, and even combatting childhood asthma, among a host of other notable health benefits.
 
Beets
Beets possess a unique phytonutrient content that makes them strong providers of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Beets help protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and birth defects, and recent studies have shown that the lutein and zeaxanthin in beets make them particularly effective at maintaining eye health. Beets can make tasty and colorful additions to salads and main dishes.

Great Chili Ideas

Chili is a fabulous one pot meal – and one of the most popular. Everyone has their own take on this dish, but if you're looking for some inspiration, here are some of the most popular regional variants, as well as some essential tips to keep in mind before you start cooking.

Chili, obviously, is named after the spicy peppers that give the dish its trademark heat. Mix-up your chilies. Using just one kind of pepper will make the dish taste one-dimensional. Combining jalapeno, Serrano, and other peppers in moderation will vastly improve the dish.

Meat is the core of a chili dish, and many regional styles such as Texas chili don’t use beans at all in the preparation of the meal. Before you add your meat to the pot, brown it in a pan first. That will help release essential flavors and keep the meat from getting too mushy. I prefer using roughly-cut strips of steak, but ground beef works fine. Ground turkey or chicken is good for a more heart-healthy dish.

That said, vegetarian chili is also increasingly popular. Rely on a variety of beans and sauteed vegetables like onions and mushrooms to create a hearty meal without the use of meat.

Always use fresh vegetables and good quality meats. Chili was originally invented as a way to disguise the flavors of substandard ingredients, but in the modern world there’s no reason to eat bad food. The better the ingredients, the better your pot of chili will be!

Taste the pot frequently as you’re cooking to adjust the consistency and spice blend. Keep in mind that heat will develop slowly as you cook it, so don’t add more peppers unless you’re sure that it’s not hot enough.

Enjoy!

Five Best Post-Workout Foods

Everybody loves the buzz that comes from a good workout, so why not make that rush of well-being last as long possible by fueling your body with the best post-exercise nutrition? Here are five of the best ways to give your body what it needs after you’ve worked up a sweat:

Fruit & Protein
Fruit paired with protein will give you a sustained energy boost. Try pairing an apple, pear, or banana with a protein of some kind – deli turkey, cheddar slices, or cottage cheese are great options. The carbs in the fruit will restore your glycogen stores and the protein will aid muscle recovery.

Low-fat Yogurt and Granola
This is another carb-and-protein combination that yields a great post-workout snack. Aim for a cup of yogurt and 1/2 cup of granola (making sure to stick with a low-sugar variety of granola). You can also add small sprinkling of dried fruits and nuts for extra flair.

Whole-Grain Sandwich
If you’re in the mood for a more substantial snack, a great post-workout option is to pile some lean turkey breast or water-packed tuna on whole-grain bread. Or you can smooth some peanut butter (no more than two tablespoons, ideally) onto a whole-grain slice.

Salmon, Spinach, and Sweet Potato
This is another perfect post-workout option that will satisfy anyone craving a substantial bite to eat after hitting the gym – just make sure to watch your portion size with these items. The potato will give you some nice slow-burning carbs, the salmon will pack in protein and Omega 3’s, and the spinach will load you with vitamins and minerals.

Whey Protein Shake
When you’re in a hurry after a workout and need to grab something that will recharge you, this is a fast and super healthy option. Mix whey protein powder with water, milk, or soymilk, and add the carbs of your choice – berries, fruit slices, or a scoop of peanut butter, for example. Drink up and cool down!