Thursday, 12 December 2013

Week 50 Nutrition Tip: Best Cooking & Storage Options

As we near the end of this 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You series, it is time to look at an important, often-overlooked related topic. As you continue to progressively improve what you eat, you also want to consider what you use to cook your food and how you store cooked food when you meal prep. If you do not, you could be making your healthy food less healthy. Here are some simple suggestions to help you make sure you keep your healthy food as healthy as possible.

Food preparation
Food preparation often starts with chopping. Many people use plastic cutting boards. However these run the risk of getting plastic into your foods. A better alternative are bamboo cutting boards. Generally wood cutting boards run the risk of getting bacteria stuck in the wood. However, bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and makes a quality cutting board.

Food cooking
When cooking food, many people are still using the non-stick pots and pans. These make for fast-easy clean-up and require less oil (this was a big deal back in the 80's when everyone thought fat as bad). However, this again has the potential to get chemicals from the cookware into your food - especially as the pan ages and starts to get little nicks in it. Here are the best options: 
  • For baking choose glass baking pans or stone baking sheets
  • Stainless steel pots
  • Cast iron frying pans are fantastic. They last forever, make food taste great and are easier than you think to clean (I did a whole post on these a while back - check it out HERE).
  • A metal steamer is also a great tool for fast, easy veggies (check out my favorite recipe HERE).
  • Metal or wooden spatulas (metal works great for the cast iron pans and both are much healthier and longer-lasting than plastic)
Steamer: put in a stainless steep
pot with a little water and add a
bunch of veggies

A note on microwaves: here is another controversial issue. My wife and I do not own a microwave and simply re-heat food on the stove or in the oven. I do use it at work to re-heat my lunch, but I never cook with a microwave.

Food storage
How you store your healthy food is also important. Traditionally many fitness-minded folks used plastic containers. Again you run the risk of getting plastics in your food which is not healthy. There is also some concern that this may raise estrogen levels (I can't prove this to you, but I personally like to play it extra safe whenever someone mentions estrogen). Glass containers are a superior, healthier option for food storage.

Liquids
For liquids, try to use glass cups as much as possible. Also, while having a water bottle with you is a trendy, but helpful habit, choose stainless steel water bottles over plastic.

Practical application
Don't get paranoid and overreact. Too many people make a living in the health and fitness industry by scaring people into believing that everything they are doing is killing them. This can lead to stress and anxiety which are both bad for your health. As I have said before, do the best you can in each situation and then get on with life. This week, consider purchasing something from the above list. This time of year can be a good time as there are often sales on around the Christmas holidays. Do not worry if you cannot do a complete kitchen overhaul overnight. Just look to gradually convert your kitchen supplies to healthier, more natural choices. Also, note that many of these kitchen items last at lot longer than the plastic, non-stick alternatives so they will save you money in the long-run.

Below are the links to the other weekly habits in this series:
Week 29: Get more broccoli 

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