Why is steam-cookingso healthy (+ other healthy cooking techniques)
In this week’s challenge, we will look at healthy cooking methods that will help you to create a clean eating cuisine that tastes great. One of the main challenges when trying to eat clean is to select nutrient-dense, unprocessed food while avoiding excess fat – all without giving up flavor.
I know that you already buy regional, seasonal, and maybe organic products whenever you can. Developing healthy cooking habits is another important aspect when it comes to flavor rich clean eating.
In the following, I will present to you some of the simplest cooking methods you can master within a short period of time. You’ll be pleased to know that each technique boosts the flavor in food and is naturally low in fat as no or very little oil is needed.
No need to add excessive amounts of salt or other seasonings.
The shorter the cooking time the better
Each time they are cooked, vegetables, herbs, fruits, meats and fish lose important vitamins, minerals and nutrients. They are destroyed through heat or dissolved in hot water. The longer food is cooked, the more vitamins and minerals are lost. Therefore, the best advice I can give you is “the shorter the better.”
In this context, steam-cooking is one of the healthiest way to cook. Let’s take a closer look!
Steam Cooking is a very healthy cooking method
Steaming food means simply cooking in an enclosed environment infused with steam. It preserves nutrients better than any other cooking method.
The majority of vitamins, minerals and nutrients are kept and the food tastes very flavorful. Vegetables especially can retain more of their texture and color while the moist nature of steam heat prevents food from drying out. As your food absorbs only the moisture it requires, it can never be overcooked.
Healthy cooking methods: 4 easy techniques for steam-cooking
1) Steaming in a pot with a steamer basket
Fill the pot with some water or other liquid like broth or wine. Hang in a steamer basket and cover it tightly with a lid. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat so that the strong steam evaporates. Put vegetables, chicken breasts or salmon fillets in the perforated basket and cover. With the rising steam, the food is cooked quickly and gently.
For this method, I use my WMF Spaghetti pot. It comes with a separate smaller basket that sits up high and fits perfectly under the lid.
2) Cooking in a wok
I love tasty meals prepared in a wok. In the Asian kitchen, woks play a dominant role and steam-cooking is an ancient Chinese cooking tradition. For steaming, special bamboo (see picture above!) or metal steamer baskets can be stacked on top of a wok. You just fill the basket with vegetables, meat or fish, cover it and let it rest above boiling water.
But that is not all. Besides steam cooking, you can also stir-fry and broil in a wok. Stir-frying needs just a few minutes. Due to the high temperature in the wok, food is ready very quickly and keeps its ingredients and flavor.
3) Steam-cooking in an electric steamer
Meanwhile, convenient electric steamers are used in many kitchens.
They exist in various sizes where single or multiple foods can be cooked at different levels at the same time.
And do not forget: following the healthy eating trend, steam ovens have emerged as a fabulous new addition to the appliance market. If I were planning a new kitchen, I’m sure I would want a fantastic steam oven too…
4) Steam-cooking in a pressure cooker
A good old pressure cooker works with steam heat as well. Again, vitamins and minerals are kept intact as it requires very little water and time. The steam is put in a sealed vessel under high pressure; this accelerates the cooking process manifoldly. Pressure cooking is also a very gentle method and perfect suitable for vegetables and fish, but also for meat.
I always cook my potatoes for my German potato salad as well as red beets in a pressure cooker to speed up cooking time. Stews and soups that would usually take hours to simmer on the stove can be ready in 15 minutes; potatoes are ready in five and most vegetables and beans in about three minutes.
Baby Steps: How to incorporate healthy cooking methods into your weekly clean eating diet
The following simple 4-step habit change will help you automate healthy cooking methods. You want make it a habit to cook a steamed dish once per week. Again, use your weekly meal plan as a trigger.
Step 1: Research some simple clean eating recipes for steaming like described above.
Step 2: Include a steam-cooked dish in your meal plan once per week.
Step 3: Write down any ingredients you need for your healthy cooking method on your customized shopping list.
Step 4: When steam-cooking for several weeks, reward yourself with a new wok, pasta pot, steamer basket or pressure cooker. It should be something that is missing in your kitchen helping you sticking to healthier cooking methods.
With sautéing, a bit of liquid is heated, the food is added and quickly cooked with covered lid. In place of oil, you can use low sodium-broth or water. It is a healthy preparation method for small pieces of food like vegetables, fish or meat.
Extra tip for sautéing vegetables: Take veggies off the stove when they are firm when bitten and arrange some of them on plates. Use the nutrient-rich stock as base for a healthy gravy. Puree remaining veggies to make a soft paste. Add it to your liquid to thicken. For a creamier texture, add some skim milk.
Stir-frying in a wok, boiling, pouching or grilling are other healthy cooking methods. But, in my opinion, nothing beats steam-cooking or sautéing. Especially with grilling foods, some health risks are associated. Enjoy your grilled foods rarely, or only on special occasions, and you should be fine.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Share with us below your thoughts regarding steam-cooking. Let us know your favorite healthy cooking method!