🍲 Cooking & Healthy Meals¶
This is a HUGE category and will require research on your part, but here’s some general guidelines/thoughts on the subject.
Generally speaking, fresh beats frozen or canned. Whole foods beat processed. What these two statements really mean is that elements that are often added to processed foods are not all that healthy. SALT is a big offender BUT, keep in mind that we need some salt. Preservatives are a big offender. Avoid chemicals in general.
This is not to say that we don’t want to add anything to our food. Spices are some of the healthiest things we can consume. The list of healthy ones is long and includes Cardamom, Chili peppers, Cinnamon, Cocoa (yeah, really), Cumin, Garlic, Ginger, Rosemary and Turmeric. Research will tell you that these spices have many health benefits and can prolong your life and your productivity in many ways. Turmeric is the giant among these in my mind and I’ve been consuming almost daily doses of it for many years. It reduces inflammation, may ease pain, and research shows that it may help to prevent dementia. YIKES! My research tells me that it is better, tastier and less expensive to just add the spices to my food rather than to buy “supplements”. Lucky for me, I like spicy foods.
Generally speaking, veggies and fruit provide the fiber, vitamins & minerals that we need, while avoiding the fats that we don’t need (but like salt, we need some fat). Potatoes were classified as a starch in the past but have recently been reclassified as a vegetable. Colorful veggies & fruits sometimes provide specific benefits/vitamins & minerals. However, meats provide protein that we need to grow and maintain muscle, bones, connective tissues, etc. We can get these proteins from other sources and you will need to seriously research that if you want to lead a vegan lifestyle. It is best to avoid fatty meats if we are going to eat them though. I try to avoid meats grown by cruel factory farms in particular.
Many people advocate consuming organic foods. They CAN benefit us by avoiding the multitude of intentional and unintentional additives introduced into our diets in the processes of feeding and protecting plants and animals that we consume. These additives do harm to us and to our environment. Just be aware that some foods labeled as organic are not really organic. As always, there are bad actors out there who are willing to take advantage of us in pursuit of their greed. DRAT - more research!
There are foods that some of us definitely want to avoid, such as those containing gluten or lactose. If you are gluten or lactose intolerant, switching to foods free of those substances can be super helpful to enjoying life without serious digestive issues, but again research will be required and there may be some higher costs. There are quite a few alternatives available though and many are quite tasty. I even found that there are gluten free beers and one of them is my new favorite beer.
There are quite a few gluten free breads and pastas available as well. One can find them in many grocery stores just by reading the labels.
OK, on to the actual cooking…. That will frequently require my last category, oils & fats. I think by now everyone knows there are many choices out there and some are tastier or more healthy than others. Some of the healthy ones are very tasty. I prefer olive oil and I buy good quality ones simply for the good taste. Other oils that are frequently referenced as healthy are Canola, Corn, Peanut, Safflower, Soybean, and Sunflower. Opinions differ on these regarding the health merits of each.
So we can cook our foods, or in many cases just cut them up and assemble them into all kinds of dishes. Baking, grilling, frying/sauteing them all have their uses and advocates and really, the only way to find the ones you like best are to get yourself a cookbook or two and start experimenting. This last paragraph is somewhat of a let-down, eh? But entire big, fat books are written on the subject because the combinations are endless. Have fun! “Just do it”