Yes, my friends, in a short while holiday period will be over, and all the festive atmosphere, the days spent at the table with family and friends will be sadly over. All the red tablecloths, the never ending toasts, the heart-warming meals in front of the fireplace, all the eating-like-there-is-no-tomorrow…all of this will finish and it will leave space to the new year, with all our good propositions and things to do. The most common – at least for me – is always to promise to myself that I will eat less and exercise more…well, then that’s easier to say than to do. My favorite exercise is always lifting my glass of wine and I am not able to live without some daily chocolate ( remember, dark chocolate 70% is recommended in every healthy diet!), but anyway my passion for cooking me led me to understand and discover that there are many ways to eat good and tasty meals without frying or covering in fresh cream! So my gift for this upcoming new year is a short but I hope useful list of my favorite healthy cooking methods!
Here we go!
EN PAPILLOTE ( in parchment)
I’ll start with this method – so simple despite its fuzzy and a little pretentious name – because even if it looks complicated or too fancy, it is actually really fool-proof and easy. You just need to tightly seal your food in a pouch that allows the ingredients to steam inside it and release all flavors. It is a very healthy choice and afterwards you don’t even have to wash a pile of pans! What I love most about this cooking method is that without too much effort you can enjoy a tasty piece of meat, or fish, and also vegetables ! Everything become moist and tasty. Concerning the choice of seasoning, I keep it simple, parsley or thyme, lemon and a little salt, but you can actually use also exotic spices if you like.
This is a very well-known technique : hot steam conducts heat to the food. This is by far my favorite healthy cooking method, because contrarily to boiling, it is far more delicate. Using the steam and avoiding food to be submerged by water prevents minerals and nutrients from getting lost in the procedure!
Moreover, it requires zero effort – you can watch tv, read a book or work out while the food is getting ready. You can use a steamer – it can be electric or not – and you start by putting in it a certain amount of water that will then be brought to a simmer. The food is placed in one or different baskets above the liquid that will evaporate and gently cook the food. So what are you waiting for? Fish, rice, eggs, chicken, vegetables! You can steam almost any food. In particular, I love cooking fish this way. In this case, instead of water you can use broth so you will ensure a very aromatic result. Concerning vegetables like broccoli or potatoes for example, the steaming technique is perfect because it prevents them to become too soggy or soft.
Yes, of course you bake bread, cakes, pies, muffins…but not only that! You can bake fish, poultry ( have a look at my chicken cutlets Sicilian-style), vegetables of all kind. Thanks to this procedure you will avoid to pan-fry food all the time, and consequently you won’t have to use butter or olive oil. Using parchment paper, the food won’t stick to the dish or pan, and you will enjoy a much healthier meal!
For meat lovers above all! Braising consists in searing food over medium – high heat, then covering it with a small amount of liquid and let simmer for a long time in a covered or uncovered pan. The great side of braising is that it makes your food tender and flavorful, that’s why it is often used to cook less tender cuts of meat (which are usually less expensive so it is a win-win).
I love this technique because it requires a very small amount of oil and then the food gets cooked in liquid like broth. In this way, you ‘ll enjoy a flavorful and not fat meal. The only downside is that braising is a slow-cooking technique so you won’t be able to do it all the time.
Contrarily to braising, poaching is a great way to cook delicate food – like fish or eggs. It is a gradual and gentle cooking process that does not involve very high temperatures. In this case as well, the liquid – not the fat – carries the heat to the food, and that’s why it is a healthy choice. Concerning the liquid, it can be water, wine, broth, depending on what you are cooking. Why is poaching different from boiling? Because the temperature should never be more than 180 C. More precisely, it should be between 160 and 180. Because of the low temperature, poaching does not produce agitation, and this is the reason why it is perfect to prepare delicate ingredients. And the result? Soft, moist, tender, delicious! Think about the fish. Who likes it dry? 🙂