When it comes to cooking, my approach is quick and easy. We all need quick and easy in this day and age, but we needn’t sacrifice nutritious eating in the process.
Quick and easy doesn’t mean buying more takeout and processed foods loaded with calories, transfats and sodium, all of which can set you up for weight gain and heart disease.
Think about preparing meals (and snacks) that nourish your body and are fun to make while minimizing the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.
Kitchen Guidelines for Healthy, Nutritious Meals
Here are 10 quick and healthy cooking tips for heart-healthy weight loss. I follow these guidelines in my kitchen to help save time while preparing easy, healthy meals for me and my family.
Healthy Cooking Tip #1: Use extra virgin olive oil as much as possible on salads and veggies, and light olive oil for low-heat cooking or sauteeing. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids and phenolic compounds-a few of the nutrients that make it a perfect anti-aging functional food.
Healthy Cooking Tip #2: Be mindful of the “hidden” salt in prepared and packaged foods like canned goods, powdered soups, and fast-food flamed broiled chicken, among other foods. Instead, use Himalayan salt or sea salt.
Healthy Cooking Tip #3: Serve up salad as the main dish. Pour a bag of salad greens or spinach into a bowl and toss with feta cheese, sliced, boiled organic eggs or add fruit instead: oranges, raisins or berries. You might also consider adding almonds, walnuts, or chia or flaxseeds to your salads. One of my favorite salads is couscous with apricots, pine nuts and ginger. Be careful to avoid store-bought dressings. Instead, use extra virgin olive oil.
Healthy Cooking Tip #4: Cook in large quantities and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. For example, steam enough fresh asparagus or green beans for a side dish one night, and a salad the next night. Beans, vegetables and lean ground meats all lend themselves to delicious leftovers.
Healthy Cooking Tip #5: Select your meats carefully and go grass fed or organic as much as possible. Some of the best heart-healthy choices are beef, bison and lamb. Instead of buying fatty hamburger meat, have your butcher grind up free-range, top round steak into burger meat.
Healthy Cooking Tip #6: Create a healthy meat and veggie mix kabob. Kabobs are a great way to incorporate a variety of nutritious foods, including mixed beef or free-range chicken speared with onions, tomatoes and zucchini, or any other fresh vegetables you like.
Healthy Cooking Tip #7: Before grilling steak or lamb, be sure to trim all the visible fat away. When grilling chicken, leave the skin on because it protects the chicken from carcinogens during grilling. Once you grill the chicken, remove the skin before you eat it. When it comes to fish, wild Alaskan salmon and Atlantic halibut are two good choices. Stay away from larger fish such as tuna, sword and shark, which can be laden with mercury.
Healthy Cooking Tip #8: Oatmeal is a fantastic breakfast or snack food. But switch out regular oatmeal for steel-cut Irish oats, which are the least processed of all oats. I also substitute fresh berries for frozen, since frozen berries can be high in sugar. Consider fine-tuning the garnish by adding healthy nuts: Walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts or almonds.
Healthy Cooking Tip #9: Skip the meat and go vegetarian a few times a week. Many vegetarian entrees are both delicious and easy to make. For example, prepare an egg omelet (yes, eggs are good for you, particularly organic eggs), or make a vegetarian salad with roasted or steamed vegetables.
Healthy Cooking Tip #10: Vegetables are best steamed, sautéed, broiled or roasted. I particularly love steamed vegetables. To cook them, place water in a wok or frying pan and use a steaming rack or tray if you have one. Place the vegetables into the wok or pan and heat and steam for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently if not using a rack. When tender, sprinkle extra virgin olive oil over the veggies and add garlic salt pepper to taste. You also can sprinkle cheese and chopped parsley over the veggies. Be sure not to overcook the vegetables. They should be al dente (cooked firm but not hard).
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Weight Loss
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