Don’t make healthy eating any harder than it needs to be. Turn your kitchen into your number-one weight-loss tool. Use these four easy cooking techniques to improve your health and your menu.
Poaching Chicken Breasts
Looking for ways to get more muscle-building protein into your meals? Always have plenty of cooked chicken breast on hand to add to salads, omelets, stir-fries – really any meal. You can poach several servings at once, so it’s easy to keep on hand or freeze for later. Poached chicken breast is succulent, versatile and never dry.
- 1 to 4 skinless chicken breasts
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
- Spices of your choice. We suggest a bay leaf, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, fresh herbs, garlic and/or onion
- 1 cup white wine
- Place the chicken and spices in a large enough to hold the chicken breasts in a single layer
Scatter the salt and spice over top.
- Pour the wine over the chicken first. Then add enough cool water to cover the chicken by about an inch.
- Place the pot of chicken on the burner over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil.
- Once it boils, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid. If the water comes to a boil again, reduce the heat to low, and let the chicken simmer.
- After eight minutes, start checking the chicken: it’s done when it becomes opaque through the middle and an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F.
- Chicken will typically finish cooking in 10 to 14 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat.
- Remove chicken from the poaching liquid
- Serve the chicken or store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Steaming Vegetables in the Microwave
According to Wendy Bazilian, RD, steaming “retains among the highest amounts of nutrients of any cooking technique.” It’s an ideal way to cook your nutrient rich veggies – and doing it in the microwave is easy and quick, so you can do it even on a busy weeknight. The only ingredient you need is your favorite vegetable.
- wash veggies with a vegetable wash or blend of vinegar, lemon juice and water. Rinse dry your veggies.
- Cut them into equal-size pieces.
- Place veggies in one layer in a BPA-free, microwave-safe glass bowl.
- Add just enough water to the bowl to cover the bottom of it.
- Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe cover.
- Microwave for 2 minutes.
- Test the vegetable for softness, and rotate or flip it if necessary.
- Continue alternating sides and cooking for one minute per side until the veggie can easily be pierced with a fork (one to four more minutes).
Baking in Parchment Paper
Wrapping food in parchment paper before baking helps it retain its moisture. This method is particularly handy for cooking meals that include fish or poultry, which tend to dry out while cooking.
To try out this simple technique, simply combine a single serving of poultry or fish with any combination of vegetables and herbs – be creative! Wrap each serving in waterproof and oven-safe parchment paper. (Don’t use wax paper, because it shouldn’t be directly exposed to heat.) Fold your meal into the parchment paper and bake it until everything inside is fully cooked.
This Tilapia en Papillote recipe is an excellent example of this cooking technique. The delicate white fish gets flavored with wine, citrus, garlic, basil and capers. Yum!
Roasting Red Peppers
Roasted red peppers – which have a sweet yet savory flavor – make a bright addition to a salad, pasta dish or sandwich. Best of all, roasting peppers at home is easy! Don’t waste your money on canned roasted red peppers that could also have preservatives. Oh and did we mention? A half-cup of roasted red peppers contains nearly all of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, plus plenty of beta-carotene.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay peppers on their sides on the foil, stems pointing sideways.
- Roast peppers for 20 minutes.
- Take peppers out of the oven and use tongs to turn them over, then place back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
- Slice the pepper vertically from top to bottom and lay the pepper open so it becomes one long strip.
- Pull the stem from the top of the pepper and remove its seeds.
- Flip the pepper over to reveal the skin side. Strip off the charred skin.
Cooking your way to a leaner, healthier you has never looked so tasty and simple!