Cooking techniques  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Malnutrition or a diet lacking in one or more nutrients can impair the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies.
- Sometimes, we fetch all the right nutrients to add to our meals, but end up destroying the nutrition content due to faulty cooking methods.
- Here are some cooking methods and practices that can help you retain flavour and nutrition, thus boosting your immunity.
What is food without its nutritive value? Taste and aroma are important features of food, but way above them ranks the food’s contents of vitamins and minerals. So what one seeks is a healthy way of cooking where flavours and nutrients, both are retained.
The three R’s for nutrient preservation while cooking food are:
- Reduce the amount of water used in cooking,
- Reduce the cooking time and
- Reduce the surface area of the food that is exposed.
Waterless cooking, pressure cooking, steaming, stir-frying and microwaving are the least destructive of nutrients. Cooking methods like frying or over-heating may end up encouraging you to use more fats in food and add empty calories that are bad for your health.
One should follow some simple rules while cooking food. Always clean/sort and wash vegetables (or fruits) before chopping. To wash chopped veggies wastes the nutrients and adds empty calories. Frozen vegetables can be steamed. To retain peak immunity, one must think beforehand about what may be the best method of cooking certain foods.
- Pressure cooking: Remember, the longer the cooking time and the higher the temperature, the more nutrients are destroyed as most of the vitamins are sensitive to heat and air exposure. Most Indian households use this method to cook rice, dal, vegetable stews, curries, etc. It is best to cook foods in a preheated pressure pan or cooker or in water that is already boiling.
- Stir-frying: There is no other way to cook puris or French fries but to deep-fry. But that is not everyday food, right? For everyday ‘frying’, it’s the stir-fry method that is good. In this manner, with very little oil but on high flame, within a short time, you can cook vegetables, meat, poultry, or even tofu. Always be careful of the amount of salt and other seasonings that are being added while stir-frying as the dish being prepared shrinks in volume and suddenly you may realise that you overdid the spice or salt.
- Steaming (Boiling): Steam uses gentle heat, does not burn or scorch food, and prevents foods from drying out. You can steam cook idlis, vegetables, appams, dhoklas, etc. Steam-cooked food stays rich in flavour, presentation, and nutrition. Less vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are lost compared to dry-heat cooking. Steam cooking allows one to cut down on cooking oils and salt. Instead, to enhance flavour, you can add some ground pepper, roast-jeera powder etc. Steaming also reduces the fat content of meat that is being cooked. Glucosinolates – anti-cancer compounds found in many vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are destroyed when over-cooked, but steaming at low temperature helps retain these compounds.
- Dry-roasting: Dry roasting technique of cooking is a process by which heat is applied to dry foodstuffs without the use of oil or water as a carrier. Unlike other dry heat methods, dry roasting is used with foods such as nuts and seeds, paneer, gravies or chicken, etc. Dry roasting allows fat and flavour to be absorbed better, in case you decide to add them afterwards. Though roasting traditionally took place over an open fire, it’s now typically done in the oven, or even a convection oven, which uses a fan to push hot air around the food.
- Broiling: Broiling, cooking by exposing food to direct radiant heat, either on a grill over live coals or below a gas burner or electric coil. Broiling differs from grilling or roasting or baking in that it is mostly done in an oven and the food is turned during the process so as to cook one side at a time. The biggest difference between an outdoor open grill and an oven broiler is that your oven has a thermostat to control the temperature.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.
Get the Latest health news, healthy diet, weight loss, Yoga, and fitness tips, more updates on Times Now