There are many variables in making your food healthy. There are lots of little ways to trim cholesterol, fat, salt and calories without trimming taste There are also ways to enhance the flavors of your selected foods-and some special ways to handle food. The following tips may come in handy:
- Trim all visible fat from meat before cooking.
- After you roast meat or poultry, chill the drippings in the refrigerator. Once cooled, the fat will rise to the top and harden; you can remove it easily and save the stock to use in stews, sauces and soups.
- Buy only the leanest ground beef, pork and turkey (no more than 15 percent fat). After browning, put ground meat into a strainer or colander lined with paper towels. Allow fat to drain out. Ground meat is generally higher in fat than nonground meat. Instead of buying prepackaged ground beef, have your butcher grind a sirloin steak for you. Be sure to have him remove all visible fat and clean the grinder to remove any fat from previous grindings.
- When figuring serving sizes, remember that meat loses about 25 percent of its weight during cooking. For example, 4 ounces of raw meat will be about 3 ounces cooked.
- To make gravy without fat, blend a tbsp of cornstarch with a cup of room-temperature broth by shaking the two together in a tightly lidded jar. Then heat the rest of the broth in a saucepan and add the blended liquid. Simmer until thickened.
- Make a habit of skinning chickens before cooking and removing all visible fat below the skin. The skin will be easier to remove if you use paper towels or a clean cloth to take hold of it. Be certain to scrub the cutting surface and utensils well with hot sudsy water after preparing poultry for cooking.
- Fresh fish should be cooked for ten minutes per inch of thickness. Add five minutes if it is wrapped in foil. Frozen fish requires twenty minutes per inch of thickness, plus ten minutes if it is wrapped in foil. Cooking time may vary, depending on the cooking method used, but fish is done when the flesh is opaque and it flakes easily.
- Prepare scrambled eggs or omelettes so that only one egg yolk per portion is used. Add a few extra egg whithes to the mixing bowl to make more generous servings.
- To remove oils or salty liquids, drain canned salmon, tuna or sardines. Then add water to the can and drain again to rinse.
- Seal natural juice into foods by wrapping them in foil before cooking. Or try wrapping foods in edible pouches made of steamed lettuce or cabbage leaves.
- Cook vegetables just long enough to make them tender crisp. Overcooked vegetables lose both flavor and important nutrients.
- Clean mushrooms as you use them by wiping them with a damp cloth. A quick rinse in cold water is fine, but never soak them or they will get soggy.
- Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers or wash hands thoroughly after handling. Skin, especially around the eyes, is very sensitive to the oil from peppers.
- Cut down on cholesterol by using more vegetables and less poultry or meats in soups, stews and casseroles. Finely chopped vegetables are great for stretching ground poultry or meat, too.
- Cut down on fat in creamy salad dressing by mixing it with plain lowfat yogurt.
- Sweeten plain low fat or nonfat yogurt with pureed fruit or applesauce instead of buying prepared fruit yogurt.