Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ways to Cook Food

Ways to Cook Food
  • You take great care in choosing the right foods for your family to eat, but did you know that the way they’re prepared can have a large impact on their nutritional value?
  • Whereas some cooking methods will preserve the food’s nutrients and flavor, others can actually diminish nutrient content and create harmful substances within your food.
  • What about the microwave? While some believe microwaving is a fast way to cook food without a lot of extra oils, others believe it can change the chemical structure of the food in unknown, potentially negative, ways, while reducing fragile nutrients.
  • It is always preferable to cook foods at lower temperatures than higher temperatures, not only because the nutrients are better preserved but also because the oils that you cook your food with — particularly vegetable oils like soybean, corn and canola — are easily damaged (oxidized) by the heat, posing health risks.
  • Fortunately, there are many cooking methods out there that are good for your food and good-tasting. Here we’ve outlined some of the most popular cooking methods, starting with the healthiest methods and ending up with the worst.

1. Eat Your Foods Raw
  • Well, it’s not exactly a cooking method, but it is a very healthy way to consume many of your favorite foods. Raw foods, advocates say, are higher in vitamins and nutrients, which are destroyed by cooking. Eating raw may seem extreme, but you can actually prepare some pretty tasty dishes if you know what foods to combine.
  • If you would like to try out some delicious raw food recipes for yourself, Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes is packed with them (raw lasagna, spaghetti marinara, stuffed mushrooms, broccoli in cheese sauce, apple pie and more). They’re healthy and delicious, even if you’re new to raw foods!
2. Steaming
  • Simply put a little water in a pot, put in a steamer basket or colander, and add your food. As the water boils, the steam will gently cook your food. Be sure not to cook your food for too long (veggies should still be brightly colored and slightly crunchy when they’re done), and you can also add some spices to the water to flavor the foods as they steam.
  • This method works especially well for fragile vegetables like leafy greens and fish.
3. Poaching
  • You can poach chicken, eggs and other foods by simmering them in a little bit of water or broth on your stovetop. Use a covered pan and take the foods off the heat when they’re tender.
4. Baking/Roasting
  • Baking in your oven is a perfectly healthy way to cook, though it’s preferable to use a lower temperature and a longer cooking time than a higher temperature to cook the food more quickly (roasting is typically done at a higher temperature). You can bake meat, fish, poultry, veggies, bread, fruit and anything else. To keep in some of the moisture, try keeping your baking dish covered.
  • Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes is the perfect cooking companion for anyone who wants to get more fresh, healthy and great-tasting foods into their diet — but doesn’t have a lot of time to do it.
5. Stir-Frying
  • Stir-frying is a fast, healthy way to cook. Chop your meat and veggies into small, uniform pieces, add a little oil or broth to a pan or wok, then stir the foods until they’re just cooked through (add meat, which takes longer to cook, before the veggies). To preserve the nutrients in the veggies, cook them only slightly.
6. Braising
  • When you braise a piece of meat or fish, you brown it slightly in a pan, then cover it with a small amount of liquid such as broth. The pan is covered, and the food is left to slowly and gently finish cooking. After the food is removed, the leftover juices can be used to make a flavorful sauce.

7. Boiling
  • Boiled foods are healthy in that no harmful substances form when using this cooking method. However, there is some concern that nutrients may be lost when foods are boiled, and they may become overcooked. Steaming is a preferable cooking method to boiling.
  • Want a break from the stove? Try a raw smoothie for breakfast or a snack. All you need is a blender, some fresh or frozen fruit, and, if you like, some kefir, yogurt or whey protein powder.
8. Sauteing
  • Sauteing (cooking foods in a small amount of oil on your stovetop) is an acceptable form of cooking, although it does pose the problem of oxidizing oils. To avoid this, replace the oil with some broth instead and don’t turn the heat up too high.
9. Grilling and Broiling
  • Many people love to grill their foods, however there are some potential problems to be aware of. Barbecue grill smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, heterocyclic amines form when food is cooked at a high temperature, such as those used in grilling and broiling. The chemicals have been linked to cancer.
  • Advanced glycation end (AGEs) products are also produced when meats are cooked at high temperatures. AGEs, according to researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
10. Frying
  • Frying foods is the absolute worst way to cook your foods. The high temperatures produce cancer-causing heterocyclic amines, along with AGEs. Meanwhile, frying exposes your foods to large amounts of oxidized (rancid) vegetable oils, which then soak into your food and wreak havoc in your body. You should avoid frying your foods and use the cooking methods higher up on this page instead.

Boil Corn Recipe

Boil Corn Recipe
8-12 ears corn unshucked (trim silky end)
8-10 onions (peeled
8-12 carrots (peeled)
8-10 bell peppers (halved and seeded)
8-10 potatoes (whole washed)
3 lbs. Polish sausage cut into 4" pieces
3 lbs. Italian sausage cut into 4" pieces
1-2 lbs. fresh green beans (whole, washed)
melted butter

  • Stand the ears of corn on the stalk end around the perimeter of a very large pot. Place all of the other ingredients in the middle. You can actually add ingredients until the pot is full.
  • Add about one inch of water to the pot. Cover, set stove to low setting, and let cook/steam very slowly for four to five hours. No need to disturb during cooking.
  • Serve with melted butter (add garlic to butter if desired) for dipping. This is an easy, nutritious, delicious meal for a crowd.

Boiling fresh Corn On the Cob

Boiling fresh Corn On the Cob
  • If there’s one thing that says “summer” to me, it might just be corn on the cob. When my family visited my grandmother in Michigan every summer, “Doo-Dah” would bring us corn on the cob for the requisite family cookout. My dozens of cousins and second cousins (well, close to dozens) and I sat in the yard, shucking the corn and taking off as much of the silk as we could, happily anticipating the feast ahead.
  • A few short hours later would find us happily munching the kernels off of the cobs, which we had buttered and sprinkled with salt. Delightful!
  • My father taught me how to eat the corn neatly so it wouldn’t get stuck in your teeth, by popping the kernels off one row at a time using your bottom teeth, rather than digging in with a CHOMP! It works, and has the added benefit of a typewriter joke. Finish the line of corn, say “Ding!” and start over. Well, that’s what my dad does anyway.
  • He also taught me the delights of eating leftover corn, still cold from the fridge, with a sprinkle of salt. It’s one of my favorite summertime treats to eat corn this way, so I usually get extras so I can intentionally have leftovers.
  • Unfortunately, when I moved out on my own, I discovered that I wasn’t actually sure about the right way to cook corn on the cob. I tried microwaving it, boiling it endlessly, seasoning the water with a variety of things… but nothing was ever quite right.
  • So after reading about a dozen “recipes” and formulas for corn on the cob, the guy and I settled on this method (which is a conglomeration of a couple different ones), which turned out to be a happy discovery. THIS is how corn on the cob shoud be!*
Fill your pot with water.
Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar.
Drop in your corn.
Bring everything to a boil, making sure the sugar is dissolved in the water.
Boil for no longer than 8 minutes.
Remove from the water and let it cool enough for handling and eating.
Handle it and eat it.

  • It was perfect! Well, almost perfect. It was early-season corn and not the best I’ve ever had, but it was delicious and cooked properly! With just a smear of butter and a few shakes of salt, it was delicious with our dinner of tomato pie.
  • And I had my 2 ears of leftover corn reserved in the fridge for later, when I enjoyed them cold, and sprinkled with salt.
  • Now that you’ve got such an easy delicious recipe for corn on the cob, don’t forget it!


Cooking Sweet Corn

Cooking Sweet Corn
  • Sweet corn is a treat to be savored every summer. Enjoy it in all its varieties, from golden to butter-and-sugar. The month of August always finds us chowing down on my favorite food and doing a lot of extra flossing! Here's how to cook sweet corn to bring out its incredible flavor.
A stock pot and lid
2 ears of corn per person
Butter, salt and pepper


  • Choose your sweet corn carefully: Whatever you do, don't buy the plastic-wrapped pre-husked corn. It's usually overripe and stale by the time it gets to the supermarket. In the Midwest, it's called 'feed corn', as in only suitable for feeding livestock. Pick sweet corn from your favorite roadside stand instead.
  • If the tassels are dry, or the outer leaves of the husk are yellowing, put it back. Choose ears that have tight, bright green husks and healthy, light golden tassels. You can be assured those are the freshest.
  • Pull back the husk. The kernels should be firm, uniform in shape, and free of bugs. If the kernels are too big, put it back - it's overgrown and won't taste good.
  • At home, strip off the rest of the husk and cornsilk. Rinse thoroughly in tap water.
  • In your stockpot, bring enough water to cover all the ears to a rolling boil.
  • When the water is boiling hard, turn the burner off, drop the ears in, and cover tightly. Let sit for 5 minutes. The worst thing you can do to sweet corn is overcook it or boil it for ten minutes or more. Just let it sit in the hot water, and it will be perfect every time.
  • Sweet corn in season doesn't need butter, salt or pepper - the natural flavors are perfect all by themselves. That doesn't mean you can't slather and season if you want to. Enjoy!

Cooking Corn

Cooking Corn
  • There is nothing like fresh corn on the cob, quickly boiled, spread with lots of sweet butter, and sprinkled with salt. Two ears per person may seem like a proper serving, but appetites run high when corn is in season and freshly picked.
  • Just before cooking, husk the corn, pull off the silky threads, and cut out any blemishes with a pointed knife. Drop the corn into a large pot filled with boiling salted water. Cover the pot and let the water return to a boil again, then turn off the heat and keep the pot covered. After about 5 minutes, remove enough ears for a first serving. You can keep the remaining corn warm in the water for another 10 minutes without its becoming tough. Serve with lots of butter and salt.
1.Shuck corn by removing husks and silk.  (To remove pieces of clingy silk use a moist paper towel and wipe in a downward motion, from the stalk to the tip of the cobb).

2.Boil 4 quarts of water in a lidded stockpot.  DO NOT add salt to the water – it will make the corn tough.  Make sure the stockpot is large enough to hold all of the corn and the water is high enough to cover the corn once it is added to the pot.

3.Once boiling, add 1 tsp. sugar to the boiling water and continue to boil for 1 minute.  Add the cleaned pieces of corn to the boiling water.  Cover the pot, turn off the heat, and cook the corn for 5 minutes.

4.Remove the corn from the water and serve.
Note:  Extra corn can be left in the hot water, covered with the lid, and kept warm for second servings. 


How to Grill Corn on the Cob

How to Grill Corn on the Cob
  •  Corn  on the cob is a sure sign of summer. The classic cob can compliment nearly all barbecued dishes. Save yourself a little time, and a lot of heat in the kitchen by throwing your cob on the grill with the rest of your dinner.
Large pot for soaking
Corn on the cob
Lighter fluid


  • Purchase fresh corn on the cob. When you pick out your corn, be sure to partially peel back the husk and silk so that you can be sure you're getting a good ear.
  • Remove as much of the corn silk as possible without removing the husk. Excess silk will burn while the corn is on the grill
  • Soak the corn in water for 15 to 20 minutes. This will ensure that you can cook the corn for a long enough time without it burning.
  • Take the corn out of the water, and shake off any excess. You want the corn wet, but not dripping.
  • Place the corn on the grill, and close the lid. A gas grill should be on medium heat. If you're using a charcoal grill, make sure the coals are no longer flaming.
  • Turn the corn every 10 minutes. Don't forget about this step or your corn will be charred on one side. You want the corn to be evenly cooked and browned. When the corn husk is charred and nearly black, your corn is done.
  • Remove the corn from the grill. Carefully remove the husk and remaining corn silk. The corn will be very hot. Butter and salt it, and it's ready to eat.

Roasted Corn Ingredients

Roasted Corn Ingredients
  • The couple of lil gem squashes from my most recent CSA share had been staring at me from across the kitchen table for a few days. They looked so diminutive and adorable but at the same time a little intimidating. Between the tough skin and their perfectly round shape, I was not sure I could cut them up without losing blood or finger. However, the promise of discovering another vegetable was too tempting so I finally tackle them today.
  • Roasting is my standard preparation for winter squashes. However, I really want to do something more special with these cute ones. They are the perfect size to be stuffed and already portioned for individual serving. Most stuffed squash recipes use a filling of sausages and/or grains. Not a big fan. When I saw this recipe from 101 Cookbooks, my eyes lit up. This is my adaptation of the recipe after playing around with the proportions to my liking.
2 gem squashes, halved and seeds removed
1 large egg
50g heavy cream
50g almond milk
1/4 tsp anise seeds, crushed
a pinch of grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground pepper
a pinch of fine sea salt
2 tbsp of finely chopped scallions, reserve a bit for garnishing
1 cup of corn kernels (I used frozen because it is middle of winter)
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425F. Place the squash halves on a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes until the flesh is tender.

While the squash halves are roasting, prepare custard. In a large measuring cup, mix together egg, cream, almond milk, anise seeds, nutmeg, pepper, salt, and scallions.

Remove squash halves from the oven and fill them with corn kernels until full. Reduce oven temperature to 375F.
Before you fill the squash halves with custard, you want to make sure that they are level so you can fill as much custard as possible without spilling. Here I set each squash half over a silicone muffin cup and readjust accordingly. They are more stable too! Fill the squash halves with custard until full.
 Bake for 15-20 minutes until custard is set and still a bit jiggly in the middle. Remove from oven and top with grated cheddar cheese.
Set oven to broil and broil the squash halves until cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Keep a very close eye on it. Depending on your oven, it takes approximately 3-4 minutes.
  • Garnish with reserved scallions and serve immediately. One per person for sidedish, or two per person for a vegetarian main course. Me? I can eat all four in one sitting.