Biggest Cooking Mistakes When Trying to Make Healthy Meals
Last Updated: Oct 25, 2011
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You've heard it before: If you want a truly healthy meal, you have to cook it yourself. But sometimes, you put in all of the effort of making a nutritious meal, only to find that you've fallen prey to one of the many healthy-cooking mistakes. Avoid taking the healthy out of your meal by learning about eight common cooking mistakes.
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PUTTING OIL IN PASTA WATER
You may have heard that adding oil to water keeps pasta from sticking together and to the bottom of the pot. In reality, this is far from true. In fact, adding oil to your pasta water makes it harder for sauce to stick to your pasta when you're preparing it. It also strips certain nutrients out of the pasta and can add on unnecessary calories. Instead, keep your water boiling consistently so the pasta is always moving around and stir it frequently.
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BOILING YOUR VEGGIES
You may think that boiling your veggies is the quickest and simplest way to prepare them, but resist the urge to opt for the easy way out. When vegetables are boiled, a good deal of their nutrients -- like vitamins and proteins -- are eliminated. Instead, try using a vegetable steamer or even throw them on the grill to lock in the flavor and nutritional value.
EQUATING FAT WITH CALORIES
It's great to opt for olive oil over butter when cooking -- butter and margarine have a lot of bad fats packed in them, while olive oil is full of unsaturated fats -- but don't equate fat with calories. Olive oil and butter have a comparable amount of calories in each serving, so don't overcompensate when using the healthier olive oil while cooking.
PEELING THE PRODUCE
You may be used to peeling your fruits and veggies before eating them but resist that urge. A lot of fruits and vegetables hold their essential nutrients -- like vitamins A and C -- in or right beneath their skin, so ingest this part of the produce as much as possible to get all of the health benefits.
SKIMPING ON FLAVOR
Many people think that a nutritious meal has to be tasteless and bland, but this simply isn't true. Eating foods that are low on favor will make healthy eating a chore, and you'll be more likely to crave unhealthy, flavorful foods. Instead, give your food a flavor kick by using spices such as basil and cayenne pepper, which actually speed up your metabolism.
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OVERCOOKING YOUR FOOD
This is especially important when it comes to vegetables because they are some of the easiest foods to overcook. And when you overcook your vegetables, two things happen: They become unappetizing -- who wants to eat mushy squash? -- and they lose a lot of their nutritional value, making them wasted calories. When cooking, keep an eye on your veggies to make sure they're not losing their color and only cook them for a few minutes.
GOING HEAVY ON THE SAUCES
Don't ruin a delicious and nutritious veggie-heavy stir fry meal by adding too much teriyaki or soy sauce and packing on a lot of unnecessary calories. Only use enough sauce to add flavor to the dish and do the same when it comes to dressings for salads. When possible, use low-calorie, low-sodium or low-fat sauces when cooking.
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STICKING WITH THE SAME OLD STUFF
No matter what the meal, eating the same foods over and over again is the quickest way to get sick of them. Avoid falling into a rut and losing your motivation to eat healthy by constantly changing up the meals you cook. Use different ingredients every night, try different cooking methods and even make up a few recipes of your own -- anything to make healthy eating fun and delicious.
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