Healthy Cooking Essentials- Part I

September 16, 2019
Diet & Nutrition

One of the first recommendations you will typically receive in my practice, is to start cooking your own food! There are many reasons for this recommendation,the first and foremost being: you have full control of what you eat! And what you eat is what fuels your body, and if your body is receiving the right "fuel", it is most likely to function efficiently, without trouble i.e. symptoms or illnesses.  So if you are to take control of what you eat, you must put in the effort for making as many of your meals as possible. Of course, a trip to the restaurant  or ordering take-out can be left for special occasions or for long days that you could not anticipate or for which you could not prep ahead. Last September, even the American Medical Association (AMA) released recommendations for home cooking. Based on the American College of Preventive Medicine's (ACPM) guidelines, the AMA recommends  "prescribing" home cooking to patients to reduce the risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes since it helps with:

  • portion control
  • lower sugar and salt levels
  • no or low artificial  additives and preservatives
  • more choice with type of vegetables and fats

Needless to say, there are additional mental-emotional benefits of family members participating in shopping, preparations and the cooking process.  

Knowing all of this helps the patients get motivated but very often, when they are not used to cooking at home, this simple prescription can be very daunting and often can increase patients' anxiety around meal preparation and planning; and if not given the right tools/resources, can ultimately result in patients sliding back into old, comfortable but not healthy, eating habits.
In this 2 -part series, I am excited to share ideas that I commonly discuss with patients to alleviate this type of anxiety & get them settled into cooking at home with ease! I hope these will be helpful in your efforts towards a healthier lifestyle! Let's begin!


If you have ever tried opening a wine bottle without a wine bottle opener or cutting veggies with a blunt knife, you already know the importance of having the right tools for the right job! Today's fast paced kitchens need gadgets & tools that can save us time AND energy. Here are my 4 of my favorites and "must-haves" in any kitchen with a summary of their most important features:

  1. The Instant Pot​  (aka IP)

​          ​You  probably have heard raving reviews about it and are skeptical about it. So let
         me tell you this:  all my skepticism (and there was a huge chunk of it!) flew out the
         window from day one of using it!...and now I am the proud owner or not one but
         two of Instant Pots! Here's why I highly recommend it:

  • Requires minimal monitoring once program is selected (this is great win!)
  • Safe pressure settings to cook lentils, beans, whole grains fast!  The cooking time is very short  compared to stove top cooking
  • Can "do-it-all": Sauté, Simmer, Steam, Cook, Warm! Choose pre-set programs for specific foods that can also be modified based on your preferences
  • Some models have delay start options
  • Can also work as a slow cooker for specific recipes
  • Friendly for oil-free cooking and minimal loss of nutrients - It's great for soups, stews, bean chili, porridges, multi-grain nourishing recipes
  • Many online IP enthusiasts have blogs, recipes dedicated to IP cooking & there is no shortage of ideas. Look for one-pot meal ideas!
  • Saves: Time, Energy, Nutrients
  • Side note: Proud to boast that it was invented by a team of  Canadians :-) The goal was to reduce cooking time for busy professionals so as to decrease their dependence on fast food!  Isn't that the goal with home cooking for everyone? Suffice to say, this product  has met that goal!

​     2.   Food Processor
​​           There are lot of choices when it comes to a good food processor. Choose one that
          suits your family's needs. It is great for meal prepping and when cooking large
          quantities. Here's what it can help with:

  • ​Chops or Grates vegetables/ fruits
  • Making dry or wet mixtures: Blends and/or mixes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds,    powders into batter for patties or baking
  • Powders nuts and seeds for salads, gravies and gluten free baking
  • Saves: Time, Energy
  • Great for making a colorful salads &  blending leftover veggies for soup!

    3.  Hand Held Blender
​         Again, there are many choices with brands and additional attachments for          
       whisking, batter mixer etc. A simple one will suffice & here's why:

  • Awesome device for  making soups, gravies, salad dressings and dips! Insert the blender in the cooking pot or serving bowl directly and blend!
  • Most can be used in hot & cold foods  though watch out for the splatter!
  • Much more convenient than having to transfer ingredients into a blender then transfer back into a cooking pot/ serving bowl.
  • Saves: Time, Energy, Spills (no transferring required!), Nutrients

    4.  Air Fryer
         This is a relatively new addition to my list of must-haves and I am still exploring  
         new recipes! Here are the main features:

  • Cooks faster than conventional ovens with circulating hot air - not gas!
  • Especially great for small batch cooking
  • Great for oil- free or minimal oil cooking
  • Wonderful for making quick snacks and entrées - carrot/sweet potatoes chips,  crispy tofu, roasted potatoes, grilled chicken/fish
  • Just like the IP, there is no shortage of recipes & ideas online through blogs, FB groups
  • Saves: Time, Energy (yours & your home energy!), Gas (not a an oven!)

As you probably noticed, there was a lot of repetition above that was intentional: "Saves Time & Energy". That is the recurring theme of this blogpost. Cooking at home should be enjoyable and not burdensome. After cooking a tasty, healthy meal, you should still have energy to enjoy it with your family; that's what makes it all worthwhile!
Empowering patients to help them take charge of their health is the goal of naturopathic medicine and the constant effort in my practice. Please note, that I do not have any financial gains in any of the appliances listed above! I am passionate sharing ideas that help with living a healthy lifestyle and have received a lot of feedback from my patients, that specific tips like these help them in transitioning to cooking at home.

Next week, in Part 2 of the home cooking series, I will share some tips & ideas for efficient meal planning & prepping.

Please feel free to share your comments & feedback below!

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