Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Cook Like Your Life Depends On it!
Even minor tweaks to common preparation methods can triple the nutrition of your meal.
Piling your shopping cart high with healthful staples like veggies, fish, and lean meat? Great! Now, take it to the next level. It's what you do with those fantastic foods once you bring them home that transforms them into real nutritional superstars. Take the tomato: Eat it cooked instead of raw and you'll get as much as 171% more of the cancer-fighting compound lycopene. "Even one little change in the kitchen can result in a huge health payoff," says Robin Plotkin, RD, a Dallas-based nutritionist. Follow our simple rules for cooking smarter and amp up the disease-fighting power of every meal.
For: Younger skin (and cancer protection). Compared with fresh tomatoes, cooked tomatoes (and products like pasta sauce) contain more lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Research suggests lycopene may guard the skin against damage from the sun's UV rays. Baking tomatoes makes them healthier and more versatile, adding a flavorful twist to sandwiches, salads, and pastas.
How: Wash and dry 30 cherry or grape tomatoes and place in a small baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes.
Make It a Meal: Baked Tomato, Mozzarella, and Roasted Turkey Sandwiches (2 servings) Halve a small whole wheat baguette lengthwise. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard on lower half. Layer on 2 ounces sliced roasted turkey breast, 2 ounces reduced-fat sliced mozzarella cheese, and 15 of the hot, baked cherry tomatoes. Cover with top baguette portion and slice in half.
Roast omega-3-rich fish
For: A slimmer waistline. Roasting a fatty fish, such as salmon, with a bit of olive oil doesn't increase its fat content, according to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. When researchers fried the fish, it absorbed the olive oil, increasing fat content by about 10% (and adding unnecessary calories).
How: Drizzle baking dish with olive oil. Select fresh fish fillets, approximately 1 3 pound per person. Roast fish skin-side down in dish in a 450°F oven until a meat thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 145°F degrees, or 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Properly prepared fish will flake easily with a fork (overcooking makes it dry). Remove from oven; serve immediately.
Make It a Meal: Roasted Fish Fillets (2 servings) Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly coat small baking dish with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Place two 5-ounce fillets (such as salmon or lake trout) in dish. Sprinkle with the juice of a small lemon, 1 clove garlic (crushed), and 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper. Roast 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and serve with a grain of your choice, like quinoa or wild rice, and steamed veggies.
For: Healthier arteries. Crushing garlic cloves — and letting them stand for up to 30 minutes before heating them — activates and preserves the garlic's heart-protecting compounds, according to a 2007 study from Argentina. Cooking uncrushed garlic for as little as 6 minutes can completely suppress its protective strength.
How: Wash and peel the outer papery skins of a clove of garlic and trim ends. To crush: Place clove on a cutting board and lay the flat side of a wide knife against it, pressing down firmly. For easier use in recipes, finely chop the clove, starting at one side. Crush again: Press the flat side of the knife against the chopped garlic firmly, then finely chop again. Let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Scrape crushed and chopped pieces and juice from cutting board into recipe.
Make It a Meal: Garlic Bean Chowder (6 servings) Heat 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil in large heavy pot. Add 1 cup chopped onions, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup chopped carrots, and 4 cloves crushed and chopped garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans with liquid, 2 teaspoons fresh basil, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 bay leaf, and 1 4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cover and simmer 25 to 30 minutes over medium heat. Remove bay leaf. Serve with salad and whole grain flatbread.
For: Reduced cancer risk. Steaming broccoli increases its content of glucosinolates, compounds that fight cancer; other cooking techniques, like frying, reduce them, according to new research from Parma, Italy.
How: Clean and trim 1 pound of broccoli, cutting into florets. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in saucepan. Place florets in metal colander over boiling water. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook until tender, about 6 to 7 minutes (or you can microwave on high in a covered but vented dish for that time).
Make it a Meal: Stir-Fried Shrimp and Steamed Broccoli (4 servings) Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in large skillet. Add 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 clove garlic (crushed), 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper, and 1 teaspoon red curry paste. Sauté 2 minutes and stir in 1 pound steamed broccoli. In small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Add to skillet; stir until thick. Remove from heat; shrimp should be opaque. Garnish with 1/3 cup unsalted, dry-roasted cashews.
For: Preventing inflammation linked to diabetes and heart disease. When meats are cooked in liquid at moderate heat, they develop fewer cell-damaging compounds known as AGEs (advanced glycation end products) than when they are broiled or grilled. Researchers say that switching to "wet" cooking methods can reduce AGE intake by 50%.
How: Trim visible fat from 1 pound of sectioned beef, pork, or poultry. Place in slow cooker. Add 1 cup of liquid (like broth). Add vegetables and seasoning. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce to low and cook 2 to 8 hours longer (depending on thickness and type of meat), until meat reaches an internal temperature of 145°F for beef, 160°F for pork, and 165°F for poultry.
Make It a Meal: Mango Ginger Chicken (4 servings) Place 1 pound chicken breast tenderloins, 2 carrots (sliced), 2 celery ribs (chopped), 1 onion (sliced), 1 cup frozen peas, 1 cup mango nectar, 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 11/2 teaspoons crushed fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric in slow cooker. Cover and cook 1 hour on high. Reduce to low and cook 2 hours. Remove 1/2 cup liquid to small bowl, stir in 2 teaspoons cornstarch, then add back to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 1 hour longer. Serve with brown rice.
Labels: Diet Tips