Healthy Recipes & Cooking / October 30, 2014

33 Smart Kitchen Cooking & Food Shopping Tips

By Charles Platkin, PhD

Here are a few fabulous healthy and tips you must read before you eat again!

Measurements: Proper measuring helps to prevent overeating. 
 
1.              Liquid Only: Pour-style measuring cups should be used only for liquid ingredients. They are not designed for measuring solid ingredients because you cannot level off the top of the cup. 
 
2.              No Heaping: Always measure solid ingredients separately in labeled measuring cups of specific sizes. Then, level off the ingredients using a knife or your finger. Your portions should never be “heaping” over the edge of the cup.
 
3.              Oils/Dressings: Always measure ingredients like oil, salad dressing or peanut butter in a measuring spoon. Be sure, if it’s solid, to level off the top of the spoon.
 
4.              Kitchen Scale: Buy a kitchen scale to weigh foods. You don’t have to do this forever; just until you get to know what you eat and how much you’re eating. Always make sure the scale reads zero before you weigh anything on it. Also note that all foods should be weighed after cooking, and make sure to subtract the weight of the container in which you weighed the food.
 
5.              Measure Cooked Ingredients: Most serving sizes on any meal plan are given for cooked ingredients, and many foods are much smaller volume before they are cooked. 
 
6.              Raw to Cooked (Common conversions)
 
–      2 tablespoons rice = 1/3 cup cooked
–      1/4 cup pasta = ½ cup cooked
–      1/3 cup noodles = ½ cup cooked
–      3 tablespoons oatmeal = ½ cup cooked
–      2 tablespoons Cream of Wheat = ½ cup cooked
–      3 tablespoons dried beans and peas = 1/3 cup cooked
–      2 tablespoons dried lentils = 1/3 cup cooked
–      4 ounces hamburger = 3 ounces cooked
–      1 small chicken drumstick = 1 ounce cooked


7.              Fluid vs. Solid: Fluid ounces are a different unit of measure from solid ounces. The fluid ounce is a measure of volume, such as 8 ounces of milk. The solid ounce is a measure of weight, such as 2 ounces of cereal. You cannot measure 2 ounces of cereal in a liquid measuring cup. You need a scale for that.
 
8.              Conversions: If you’re cooking, you often need to convert or determine equivalent measurements. Here are some handy conversions. There are also online converters and smartphone apps such as Kitchen Dial ( www.kitchendial.com).
 
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
2 tablespoons = 1 fluid ounce
1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
1 cup = 8 fluid ounces
2 cups = 1 pint
2 pints = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
16 ounces = 1 pound
 
Supermarket / Grocery Shopping
 
9.              Clean: Make sure the store is clean and has a pleasing smell. Refrigerators and freezers should be cold, and produce and meats should be fresh.
 
10.           Eat Before You Shop: Make sure you have a full stomach when you go to the store. Hunger can lead to impulse buying. 
 
11.           Plan before Shopping, and Make a List: Come up with general categories, such as soups, stews, stir-fries and grains. Within each category, have a recipe in mind, and write out your list of ingredients before you go food shopping. Try to choose recipes for which all the ingredients are available at one location — you’re more likely to give up if you have to shop at too many stores to get what you need. To help you, get an app such as Grocery iQ or Pushpins.
 
12.           Stock up on Fruits and Vegetables in Season: In-season produce will be the least expensive and will also give you a good variety in your throughout the year. They are your best bargains in terms of cost per nutrient. 
See http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/features-month/whats-season
 
13.           Frozen Or Low-Sodium Canned Fruits and Vegetables: These are good second choices if you can’t get fresh produce. 
 
14.           Stock Up on Spices, Soups, Flavorings: Creating healthier meals at home is also about having a well-stocked spice rack and lots of condiments on hand. Herbs and spices are a calorie-free way to add flavor to your meals.
 
–      Fat-free cooking sprays 
–      Limes, lemons and oranges, which add terrific flavor to any meal without added fat
–      Rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar, which add a lot of zing
–      Low-cal salad dressings (watch for sugar and sodium content)
–      Canned, low-calorie, low-sodium soups
–      Fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth 
–      100 percent whole-grain bread crumbs
–      100 percent whole-grain flour
–      Black pepper
–      Smoked paprika
–      Curry powder 
–      Garlic powder 
–      Dried herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon)
–      Mustard 
–      Garlic 
–      Onions 
–      Worcestershire sauce 
–      Hot sauce
–      Soy sauce
–      Honey 
–      Canned beans
 
15.           Look for Leaner Cuts of Beef: The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (eye round, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, and top sirloin.
 
16.           Look for Lean Ground Meats: Choose extra-lean ground beef. Look for at least 90 percent lean. You may even be able to find ground beef that is 93 percent or 95 percent lean. Avoid meat that is heavily marbled­that is, streaked with fat. Look for meat with the least amount of visible fat.
 
17.           Look for Leaner Cuts of Pork: The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin and ham.
 
18.           Don’t Buy More Meat Than You Need: Three to 4 ounces of raw meat will yield about 2 to 3 ounces of cooked meat. 
 
19.           Buy Ingredients Partially Prepared: Although this can sometimes be more expensive, it still costs less than eating out­or eating unhealthy meals. Get bags of pre-washed lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower florets or pre-cut mixed vegetables. 
 
20.           Cold Cuts: Low-calorie cold cuts such as sliced turkey and chicken are great to have on hand to create a quick and filling sandwich. They’re pre-sliced, so just slap a few slices onto a whole-wheat wrap or slice of bread, add a little mustard, tomato and lettuce, and voila­a satisfying meal that’s ready in minutes. 
 
Cooking and Trimming the Fat: In order to successfully trim the fat from your favorite recipes, you need to know the role fat plays in cooking. Fats give foods flavor, texture (also called mouth-feel), richness and sheen. That’s why you can’t take all the fat out of most dishes and expect them to taste the same. In order to get the most flavor out of lower-fat recipes, follow these guidelines:
 
21.           Use Low-Fat Cooking Techniques: Bake, broil, steam or grill rather than fry.
 
22.           Add Herbs and Spices: They add a lot of taste with no calories. To release their full aroma, always crush them before adding to recipes.
 
23.           Marinate: Whether it’s a vegetable, meat, poultry or fish, marinating adds enormous amounts of flavor. Make sure to marinate tofu; otherwise it has no taste. Look for low-fat marinades; also dry rubs may be low in calories. 
 
24.           Use Non-Stick Cookware: You can cook just about anything without using any oil at all.
 
25.           Remove Skin from Poultry before You Eat: Cooking with the skin on will retain moisture and keep poultry tender; however, remove it before you eat, and the fat content will be cut in half.
 
26.           Replace Some of the Fat in Baked Goods with Applesauce, Mashed Bananas or Pureed Prunes, Pears, Peaches and Apricots: Fruit purees mimic many of the functions fat performs in baking. They reduce the need for fat, because their fibers and naturally occurring sugars hold moisture in baked goods. Although fruit purees impart some tenderness, it is not enough. For this reason, use a combination of fruit and fat. Halve the fat in the recipe and replace it with a fruit puree.
 
Making home cooking easier
 
27.           Cut it Up: Cut up vegetables, such as onions, broccoli, peppers and asparagus, in advance. Put them in pre-portioned baggies or containers, and store them in the fridge. 
 
28.           Same Ingredients, Multiple Recipes: Pick a couple of your favorite ingredients and use them in different ways. For instance, use grilled chicken to top salads, pasta and vegetables and to make sandwiches for lunch. A simple roasted chicken makes a fantastic and versatile entrée, and the leftovers can be turned into a quick chicken salad, diced into an omelet for brunch, into curried rice or into hot and sour soup. 
 
29.           Make it Smaller and Thinner: Ground meat cooks much faster than whole pieces of meat. Thin slices of vegetables cook faster than whole veggies. You can also pound boneless beef, pork or chicken to help it cook quicker. Try pounding the meat between sheets of wax paper with a rolling pin or the side of a heavy can. Get your hamburgers and turkey burgers in patty form, or package them yourself after buying ground meat and store them in the freezer in meal packs. 
 
30.           Quick, Tried-and-True RecipesCreate three or four recipes that require very little thought and are ready to go. For instance, you might find it easy to cook frozen chicken strips or turkey burgers on the grill with some pre-cut veggies. Come up with a few of these, and make sure you always have the ingredients on hand. 
 
31.           Batch Cook: One of the most effective ways to ensure that you always have a healthy meal on hand at home is to cook several meals at once, portion them into single servings and freeze what you won’t be using immediately. Or, as an alternative to cooking entire meals ahead, just double or triple up on some basic building blocks that will speed you through prepping future meals.
 
32.           Store Fruits and Veggies Properly: Make sure they’re visible and not hidden in the back of the fridge or in a fridge drawer. For storage tips see:http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/fruit-and-vegetable-storage-101
 
33.           Knives: You need a good set of sharp knives for any preparation or cooking situation.


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