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Living healthily starts with cooking and eating healthily

It is far easier to develop unhealthy eating habits than healthier ones. However, there is room for change. If you are looking to eat more wholesome foods to improve your mind, body and soul, you should start by cooking healthy meals at home. Fast foods and takeout meals are very convenient, but nothing is as healthy as delicious home-cooked meals!

Below you will find the secrets, tips and traps that make healthy cooking a walk in the park!

7 healthy Cooking Habits

Work with a Meal Plan

Planning sets the stage for everything else! If you don’t have a plan, you will constantly be at a loss on what to prepare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A meal plan is a detailed guide that helps schedule and tracks your meals all day and week-long. You can write down a list of meals you plan to have for a week including a shopping list — so you can have all the ingredients ready for your meals.

You may choose to include specifics like smoothie bowls, taco Tuesdays, pasta Thursdays and what-have-you. There is no one-size-fits-all technique to meal planning, you only need to figure out what works for you and stick to the process! A meal plan is the first step to healthy cooking as it gives you an overview of your meals and ingredients.

Prioritise Fruits and Vegetables

Very few people eat the recommended number of fruits and vegetables per day. Fewer people eat enough fruits to keep their body systems fresh and healthy. Hence, most of us are not eating sufficient fruits and vegetables, which is equal to a “body felony”. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and a host of other good nutrients. Health experts recommend 2 cups of fruits and 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day to ensure a healthy body.

That said, you should strive to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meals. You can eat them as they are, but if you can’t, combine them with other food ingredients for a wholesome meal. You can have smoothie bowls for breakfast instead of cereals, a veggie-packed salad for lunch and a stuffed zucchini for dinner. Your plate should always highlight fruits and vegetables. Even if you don’t cook the meals yourself, you can instruct your chef or home service maid to do the needful.

Invest in Healthy Flavors

Spices and herbs like basil, cloves, ginger, curry, parsley, cumin and coriander are not just packed with exotic flavours but are super healthy. These food condiments infuse powerful flavours into your meals and eliminate the need for salt. They are also linked to different cultures which makes your meals restaurant-worthy.

One secret to making maximum use of these herbs and spices is to toast them in a pan when you begin cooking. The toasting technique helps release more flavours into your meal. Herbs like cilantro, parsley and mint don’t require much cooking and can be sprinkled onto your dish before serving.

Whole Grains are your Friends

Whole grains make up a great percentage of a healthy diet. They are healthier than refined grains. Grains like bulgur and brown rice retain their bran which makes them more wholesome than their refined counterparts.

They also have more fibre, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and all the good stuff. Try making bulgur stir-fries, use whole wheat pasta for pasta salads or recipes and incorporate oats or barley into your salads or soups. There are many finger-licking

dishes you can make with whole grains!

Ditch Bad Fats for Good Fats

Contrary to popular opinion, fat isn’t always bad. There are good fats and bad fats.  While past scientific research recommended low-fat diets, newer scientific evidence shows that there are healthy fats that contribute to good health.  But you must know the difference between good and bad fats. Good fats refer to unsaturated fats that lower disease risks. Examples include vegetable oils like olive, soy, corn and sunflower oils. Nuts, fish and seeds also contain unsaturated fats. Bad fats on the other hand refer to trans fats that increase disease risk even when consumed in small amounts. 

They are often seen in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oil. Thankfully, they are not as common as in the past. There are also saturated fats that are not as harmful as trans fats but must be consumed in moderation. Examples include cheese, butter, ice cream and red meat. Oils like coconut and palm oils are also packed full of saturated fat. You can replace foods like butter and red meat with fish, nuts and beans. Also, you should use healthy oils like olive oil in place of plant-based oils.

Limit Sugar and Salt

The human palate adores sugar and salt, so it is sometimes difficult to check our intake of these food additives. Though highly beneficial, excessive consumption of salt and sugar comes with a slew of health risks. You can develop heart conditions like hypertension and heart disease. For women, 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day are the recommended daily intake. While men are advised to take less than 9 teaspoons daily. This isn’t limited to white sugar but also includes brown sugar, maple syrup, honey and other sugar-based sweeteners.

The recommended daily intake of salt is 2,300 mg per day. Exceptions are made for those with heart or kidney disease that are vulnerable to salt intake. They follow a supervised diet with minimal salt intake than the recommended limit. The thing is, sodium is typically found in processed foods. This is the more reason why you should cook at home so you can control your salt intake. You can replace sodium with herbs, spices and vinegar.

Make Prepping a Habit

The beauty of modern-day cooking is that you can prep and preserve your ingredients beforehand. In a world where everyone is super busy, it can be extremely difficult a whip up a healthy meal from scratch — especially when you’ve just had a long day at work. Hence, we reach for noodles, grab a take out or order junk meals at the slightest inconvenience.

But if you bag salads and veggies (which typically take the most prep time), all you need to do is grab a bag from the freezer and throw things together within minutes. You only need to find time to shop vegetables and other ingredients in bulk and prep them. So, on those days you feel too tired to cook, you can whip up a fruit salad or a stir fry before you can say JACK!

And of course, you can always hire a house service maid from the House Service App to help cater to your meals and other domestic needs the healthy way!

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