Ingredients matter, but also choosing the right cooking method can make the difference for your health
The act of cooking today can be full of significates, but it is primarily the way how we nourish ourselves and the other, and it is strictly connected to our health and to the prevention of diseases. Choosing the right foods is certainly a main part of eating healthy —but how you prepare them also plays a role. Many different research results show that cooking methods are at least as important as the choice of the ingredients in the way of how our alimentation affects our health. There are different opinions also in the scientific community, but some evidence is are unequivocal: for example there are many different studies highlighting a link between eating excessive amounts of meat cooked at high temperatures and increased risks of colorectal and pancreatic cancers. Of course the taste is still fundamental: with this article we will not give you rigid rules but useful information to prepare our dishes that are also good for our body.
Steaming and sous-vide cooking
Moist-heat cooking methods are the healthiest ways to prepare meats and produce because they're done at lower temperatures, preserving natural nutrients: these styles are good also for keeping calories down because they often don't require added fats. For the preparation of vegetables steam is a better option, as boiling can cause water-soluble vitamins and nutrients to leach out into the water.
The ultimate technique of low-temperature cooking is sous-vide: it consists in placing raw food with all its flavourings, into special food-grade plastic bags from which the air is removed before sealing. The vacuum-bag is then heated at a temperature between 50 and 70 °C: the food is sealed off from the external environment and is not in contact with oxygen, so it does not oxidise while vitamins, mineral salts and all nutrients remain in the bag, are not released in the water and are not altered by high temperatures, so the food is better and healthier. Home sous-vide cooking is now possible thanks to the revolutionary KitchenAid Chef Touch system, which combines a vacuum machine with a steam oven and a shock freezer.
Stir-frying and sautéing
Stir-frying and sautéing are fast and versatile cooking styles, that can be used for several foods, from vegetables to sliced meat. The downside is that heating oil at high temperatures may pose a health risk as fumes released from overheating some cooking oils contain compounds which increase cancer risk. When cooking oil gets heated to high temperatures, it releases free radicals that can cause further oxidation, which can lead to inflammation in the body. But it doesn’t mean you have to eliminate stir-fry recipes from your diet: just be careful in keeping the cook time short to control oxidation and by using an oil with a higher smoke point. Overall, don't stress about possible harm from a bit of hot oil: if sautéing gets lots of vegetables and antioxidants into your diet that's great for your health.
When roasted at high temperatures, high-starch foods like potatoes and bread may result harmful for the presence of acrylamide, which is a probable carcinogen. Potato chips and French fries have the highest levels of acrylamide, but also crispy oven-roasted potatoes have a lot. The good news is that this compound is believed to form at very lower levels in fish, meat, and dairy. You probably can't completely avoid acrylamide, but you may reduce the amount by reducing temperatures and cooking times for bread and potatoes.
Grilling and broiling
Many meat lovers think that about anything tastes better when crispy. But grilled meat has been often associated with higher risks of cancer, especially for very well-done meat. If you generally have a healthy diet, an occasional grilling likely won't cause negative effects to your health, but our recommendation is to have grilled meats in moderation. Cooking tips include cutting away blackened parts, flipping pieces often or pre-cooking meats in the oven and just finish them on the grill.
Make your veggies taste amazing without cooking
If you prefer to consume your vegetables uncooked, there are still countless techniques and give your veggie an original twist. Thanks to the KitchenAid Stand Mixer attachments, you can slice, dice, spiralize and grate at home just like a professional chef would do. There are also many easy ways to prepare healthy dressings for your greens. Try to just drizzle veggies with olive oil: studies have found that eating fresh vegetables with a healthy fat helps the body absorb nutrients in the plants. An original idea? Prepare a tasteful and healthy dip with mashed avocado, lime juice and salt.
Tips and ideas to make the best out of the season’s bounty
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