HEALTHY COOKING BASICS: FACEBOOK LIVE RECAP

In our previous Facebook Live chat, we discussed healthy cookware, and hopefully by now you’ve thrown out all the teflon and aluminum in favor of cast iron, ceramic or stainless steel. And although I didn’t go into great detail, in our Facebook Live chat covering the 3 Simple Steps to a Healthier Life & Home, we discussed the importance of choosing food wisely. We went over the importance of making some organic selections, avoiding pesticides and avoiding gmos. So now that you’re all set up with what kind of food to buy and which cookware to cook it in, let’s talk about a few healthy cooking basics that will help maintain the integrity of your food. (Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the full video replay)


 

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BRINGING FOOD HOME

 

We pick up this discussion after you’ve made it home from the grocery store, with all your nutritious food.

 

When you bring food home from the store, you have 3 options for storing them.

 

  1. In the refrigerator
  2. In the freezer
  3. Left out (in the pantry/on the counter)

 

 


TEMPERATURE SETTINGS

 

First of all, your refrigerator needs to be set at a temperature between 32-34 degrees Fahrenheit in order to properly do it’s job of maintaining your food. Many of today’s refrigerators allow you to control the settings for maximum freshness and to keep bacteria growth down.

 

It should also be noted that the freezer should be maintained at or below 0 degrees F.

 

These temperature settings are especially important for those of us with families at home that cook a lot, and those with small kids that are constantly opening the door letting the cool air out and the warmer air in.

 


REFRIGERATOR ORGANIZATION

 

Next, how you place or organize your food is also important. In the Healthy Kitchen Guide I’ve given you a diagram showing you where everything should go. The doors of the fridge are the warmest and should house things like condiments and things that don’t need to be kept extremely cold, like eggs.

 

Eggs belong on the middle or lower shelves which is the coldest part of the refrigerator.

 

The top shelf should have your drinks and leftovers. For more on this, purchase a Healthy Kitchen Guide here

 

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Also, pay attention to the drawers in your fridge. One is typically for fruit (the low humidity drawer) and one for vegetables (the high humidity drawer). Take notice the next time you go to the grocery store. Many vegetables get a light misting from time to time to keep them moist, while fruit remains dry.

 

There are also a few fruits and vegetables that should not be put in the refrigerator at all. I will do a blog post on this later, but here are a few to note:

 

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole Garlic
  • Whole Onion (and did you know that you should separate onions from potatoes in the pantry? Onions cause potatoes to grow those little sprouts prematurely)
  • Apples
  • Should all be kept out of the refrigerator for best quality and taste.

 

 

THAWING FOOD

 

Did you know there is a correct, and incorrect way to thaw frozen food? Frozen food should never be taken out of the freezer and placed on the countertop all day to thaw.

 

On the counter, food remains in what’s known as the danger zone too long which can lead to the development of foodborne illness once consumed. Bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella can grow to dangerous levels making you and your family susceptible to getting very sick. The danger zone temperature range (between 40 o F and 140 o F) allows bacteria to double in as little as 20 minutes.

The best way to thaw food is in the refrigerator. This will allow the food to thaw while remaining cold enough to remain out of the danger zone, keeping bacteria at bay.

 

What about the microwave you ask? This is also “ok” although not preferred. The microwave's defrost option will get your food thawed quickly and avoid leaving it in the danger zone for too long so this is acceptable. Just be sure to cook it immediately!

 

 

WASHING PRODUCE

 

Hopefully you bought a lot of great, fresh, organic fruit and veggies but you still need to wash them. In the Healthy Kitchen Guide, I give you 2 options for doing so.

 

  1. Washing at the time of use (preferred healthwise)
  2. Prewashing (what I prefer, personally)

 

The key to prewashing is to make sure to fully dry your fruits and veggies before storing them. Leaving too much moisture on them will cause leaves like lettuce to wilt, and can cause other food to spoil more quickly.

 

To wash, a simple vinegar and water mixture with 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water is easy and effective. The vinegar kills bacteria and helps to remove any pesticides. Another option is to use a splash of Dr. Bronner’s soap in a bowl of water.

 

Speaking of washing, did you know that it is NOT necessary, in fact, it’s not even advisable that you wash your meat before cooking? The cooking process is sufficient to kill all the bacteria, and rinsing causes the bacteria to splash around in your sink and on your counter possibly spreading more bacteria to other surfaces. As an alternative, you can pat your meat with a paper towel to get off any surface slime.

 

 


CUTTING BOARDS

It is recommended that you have designated cutting boards for raw meat and then everything else. This means a separate board for cutting raw meat, one for vegetables and bread, etc.

 

Be sure to clean your cutting boards thoroughly and dry them. Especially wooden cutting boards, which I love. If they are not properly dried, and then placed in a dark cabinet or drawer, mold and bacteria will quickly grow.

 

Cutting boards aren’t made to last forever. When you notice plastic cutting boards getting that frayed, hairy look, it’s time to replace. Plastic cutting boards are good for meat because they are dishwasher safe and are less expensive since you will need to replace them more frequently.

 

When your wooden boards, which a  great for fruits, vegetables and bread, start to have deep knife grooves from repeated cutting, it is also time to replace those.

 


MICROWAVE USE

 

There are many claims about the microwave and people that are staunch supporters as well as those that aren’t.

 

My personal philosophy right now is to use it as little as possible. As a busy mom, I have not found a way to eliminate its use altogether (nor have I found sufficient evidence that says I should) and I don’t always have time to warm up the oven or stove. Just be sure to heat food slowly as the microwave has been shown to reduce the nutritional value of many foods if overheated or heated to quickly.

 


COOKING

 

Lastly let’s discuss some actual cooking tips that I think will help you.

 
DON'T OVERHEAT YOUR OIL

You don’t want your oil so hot that it’s smoking. When oils are heated to their smoke point or reheated repeatedly, they start to break down, destroying the oil’s beneficial antioxidants and forming harmful compounds.. You want the oil to start dancing or shimmy’ing a little, but not smoking.

 

PREHEAT STAINLESS STEEL

If you use a stainless steel pan to cook with, you MUST preheat the pan BEFORE adding your cooking oil. Read this article for more on how to cook in stainless steel.

 

USE CORRECT SIZE COOKWARE

Don’t overfill your pan. Overfilling causes your food to cook unevenly and can make it take so long, your food turns to mush.

 

STEAM YOUR VEGGIES

Steaming allows more nutrients to remain in your veggies and not end up in all of the boiling water. And, they will taste SO much better.

 

PROPERLY CARE FOR YOUR COOKWARE

Many require different measures to maintain them. Pay attention to the instructions you find when you first purchase them. Proper maintenance is important for the integrity of your cookware and your food.

 

DON'T COOK EVERYTHING

Implement more raw foods into your family’s diet. Serve vegetables uncooked every now and then. This allows most of the vitamins and minerals to be maintained and not damaged through the cooking process.

**The exception to this is carrots, tomatoes and sweet potatoes which have been proven that during the cooking process their antioxidants are actually activated.**

 
 FULL VIDEO REPLAY

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