Here at Food and Health Communications, we just love to cook. Lately, we've been thinking about the most important cooking lessons for a healthful lifestyle, which led us to create our Top Seven Cooking Lessons for Health series. This free set of nutrition handouts is chock full of useful information. It covers everything from crafting the best bowl of oatmeal to steaming vegetables perfectly. To access these handouts, simply visit our store and sign up for the emails. In the meantime, here are a few highlights from the series...
Looking to braise fish or poultry? Choosing the right cut of meat can be tricky. That’s why we’ve listed some of the best options below...
- Choose white meat, not dark meat, when selecting poultry. Breast meat, for example, is an excellent choice.
- Skip the bones and leave the skin off of any pieces of chicken you choose.
- Braising works best with larger, firm-fleshed fish like salmon, swordfish, or striped bass.
Looking for a quick nutrient boost in the morning? Try whirring up a smoothie! Our handout discusses all the great ingredients and preparation tips, but presentation also matters. Check out our serving suggestions below..
- If you’re rushing out the door, pour your smoothie into a travel mug or a cup with a lid and straw.
- Smoothies look especially elegant in tall, thin glasses.
- Top your smoothie with a sprinkling of fresh fruit or a dusting of cinnamon.
- Smoothies make great replacements for ice cream or other sweet treats. Consider that the average smoothie has just 100 calories per cup, while ice cream can have over 300 calories per cup!
As the weather gets cooler, your mornings may be calling out for a toasty treat. Try oatmeal! When made the right way, oatmeal is anything but boring. Not sure where to start? Read through our topping tips!
- Top cooked oatmeal and dried fruit with a bit of lemon juice and zest.
- Unsweetened frozen fruit is a perfect topping, especially since it creates its own “sauce” as it defrosts. Try heating up blueberries with a pinch of cinnamon!
- For a dish that tastes like fresh banana bread, stir in sliced bananas and a dash of maple extract.
- Chop a handful of unsalted nuts or seeds and scatter them over your bowl.
- Feeling festive? Add a half cup of pumpkin puree and a pinch of nutmeg.
Whether you're crafting breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a healthful snack, MyPlate is a great resource for keeping portions under control and making a balanced meal. Why MyPlate? Well...
- MyPlate is a fantastic resource for healthful, balanced eating.
- It offers a great visual guide that is easy to apply in real life.
- For example, applying MyPlate’s tenets to a plate of fish and chips can make the new plate 688 calories lighter. Doing the same for a burger and fries can bring the new dish’s calorie count down from 940 to 300 calories.
- MyPlate offers great ways to reduce calories without limiting flavor.
Want to get all the nutrients from vegetables without adding a lot of fat or salt? Try steaming! There are two great ways to steam veggies...
- Place a steamer basket in a saucepan and add water. Fill until the water is about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the steamer. Bring the water to a boil. Once it is happily bubbling away, place your veggies in the basket. Cover the pan with a lid, then check the progress every few minutes, cooking until everything is tender but still crisp.
- Don’t want to mess with the stovetop? Place your chopped veggies in a microwave-safe container. Sprinkle with water, cover, and microwave on high until they are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.
What better way to serve steamed veggies than with a big bowl of brown rice? Our penultimate handout discusses tips and tricks for crafting the perfect bowl of brown rice. To boost the flavor of your rice, why not add any the following before you cook it?
- Bay leaves (just one is plenty) add a simple, savory flavor.
- Paprika and smoked paprika add color.
- Dried basil, rosemary, oregano, or thyme combine for a great Italian seasoning blend.
- Chili powder and cumin go together for a Latin flair.
- Briefly cook a bit of chopped garlic and veggies in the saucepan with a little oil before adding the rice.
- Replace half or all of the cooking water with low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
Another great vehicle for steamed vegetables is fresh pasta sauce. Our handout offers lots of ways to create your own. Why bother with cooking from scratch? Well, most canned and bottled sauces pack quite a sodium punch!
- Newman’s Own Tomato and Basil Bombolina Pasta Sauce has over 1,240 mg of sodium per cup. Since the package contains 2.5 cups of sauce, that means that the whole jar has 3,100 mg of sodium!
- Buitoni’s All Natural Alfredo Sauce manages to pack 1,400 mg of sodium into a single cup of sauce!
- Even Prego’s Traditional Pasta Sauce contains over 960 mg of sodium in a simple cup.
- Considering that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that most people consume no more than 1500-2300 mg of salt per day, these sauces can really upset the daily balance!
Like what you saw? Looking for more? Our free nutrition handouts are full of information and details. Sign up for them today! You can also browse our selection of resources at the Nutrition Education Store.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.