Painting of a woman cooking up a fiery pot of nutritious chili.

Healthy Ways to Cook & Prepare Food

Most foods can be healthy if you prepare them properly. For example, consider french fries. You could make them by slicing up potatoes, tossing them in olive oil and spices, and baking them in the oven. Or you could order them at a fast-food restaurant, where they’ve been deep-fried and heavily salted. The first method is healthier than the second. This true of other popular junk foods, such as potato chips. In both cases, the issue isn’t the potatoes; it’s the preparation.

Getting more controversial now, consider the “health food” aisle of the grocery store, filled with sweet potato and quinoa chips. Remember, the potatoes were never the problem, it was the preparation, and many of these foods are processed just as heavily as regular potato chips.

In most cases, as a rule of thumb, when you can, it’s better to buy individual ingredients and prepare them yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Prepare balanced meals: combine protein, nutritious carbs, healthy fats, and fibre. When you combine different categories of healthy foods, you get a wider variety of macronutrients and micronutrients. Digestion tends to be smoother. And you often get some cool extra benefits. For example, soluble fibre helps you regulate your blood sugar and blood lipids.
  2. Blending and grinding are fine. Feel free to blend up smoothies or grind your meat. Sometimes blending and grinding can make foods easier to digest, allowing you to eat a bigger and more abundant diet. Perfect for bulking!
  3. Trim excess fat: the fat found in meat is relatively high in saturated fat. Most people could stand to eat less saturated fat. You could eat less meat, buy leaner cuts, or cut the fat off yourself.
  4. Rinse canned foods: you can rinse canned foods to drain away some of the sodium. Mind you, you may also drain away some of the other nutrients. This one’s up to you.
  5. Use healthy cooking methods: stewing, baking, grilling, steaming, boiling, poaching, broiling, or slow cooking.
  6. Use healthy cooking oils. Avocado oil makes for a great default. It’s nutritious and handles high temperatures quite well. Great for pan frying. Extra-virgin olive oil works well if you’re drizzling it onto your food or cooking at lower temperatures.
  7. Season your food with herbs and spices: enhance the flavour of your meals using herbs, spices, and seasonings like pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and vanilla. These foods tend to be quite nutritious, and many of them offer interesting health benefits. For example, garlic is fantastic for blood flow and heart health (study, study).
  8. Use healthy toppings: parmesan, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sliced nuts, dark chocolate chips, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, pickled onions, and honey.
  9. Use sauces: mustard, homemade mayonnaise, chimichurri, salsa verde, hot sauce, and squeezed lime.
  10. Use dips: hummus, tahini, tzatziki, bean dip, baba ganoush, salsa, and guacamole.

There are also quite a few meals that don’t demand much preparation. You can dip apple slices into peanut butter, add some fruit to cottage cheese, or mix frozen berries and dark chocolate chips into Greek yogurt.

Shane Duquette

Shane has over 10 years of full-time experience helping over 10,000 skinny guys build muscle by lifting weights, eating a good bulking diet, and living a healthy lifestyle. He's the founder of Bony to Beastly, Bony to Bombshell, and Outlift.

Cassandra Duquette

Cassandra is a registered nutritionist living in Cancun, Mexico. She believes vitality comes from an abundant diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Her specialty is nutrition. She's gained 20 pounds.

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