All forms of cooking bring about chemical change. The most well known effect is the loss of vitamins, but heat also causes food to lose water and mineral salts. The dehydration effect is also harmful in nutritional term. Pasta and rice can lose 2/3 of their protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. But heat can also have the opposite effect: it enriches cooked meat with protein, on the plus side, and fat on the down side.
As for vitamins, recent research has shown that for some vegetables like broccoli, cooking can activate vitamins that were dormant. Alternate cooked and raw foods in your diet to benefit from all the nutritional benefits and flavours.
Cooking In Water
Cooking food in water is something we all know about. Food can be cooked straight in cold water and bring it to the boil, or wait for it to reach the boil before you start to cook. In both cases, it’s advisable to add salt to the water. But remember cooking food in water for too long can mean it looses its colour, texture and flavour.
Foods like carbs, ( pasta and rice) lentils, chickpeas, fish, meat and poultry work best when cooked in water. It allows flavours to be preserved, if it's not cooked for too long. It also means that food can be seasoned directly with herbs, spices and stock.
You can steam food using a few methods. An easy and the go to way is to use a steamer. You can also steam food in a pan by allowing water to boil, placing your food in a basket and cover, allowing the steam from the water to work it's magic.
Foods like meat, fish ,fruit and vegetables, potatoes and pasta are great for steaming. This is the cooking method that retains the most flavour! Contrary to belief, steaming doesn't render food tasteless: it's very easy to season steamed food or papillotes with spices, herbs, condiments, olive oil or a spoonful of crème fraiche to add even more taste. Steaming is also best cooking method for retaining the most vitamins and minerals. Remember nutritional benefits will depend on what seasoning and sauces you add.
YES! Microwaving is method of cooking, don't let anyone tell you different. You can use a microwave to cook must dishes, except oil, which can burn. It's quick and easy and always convenient for reheating food. But do remember it does lack in nutritional value, it basically destroys vitamins and minerals.
And of course, never put metal or aluminium plates in the microwave. But we all know that right?
Roast in the oven, broiler or rostisserie, and for optimum crunchiness, soak your meat in oil beforehand. If yo want a a really succulent roast chicken, and lets face it who doesn't rub the skin with salt before cooking, and use marinades made of oil, herbs and spices. and to really get a top notch roast chicken regularly baste meat while cooking.
Roasting retains minerals in meat, and allows a crunch meat skin and juice that concentrates inside the meat.
Grilling is great for meat and fish dishes, you can use an oven grill, cast iron grill or barbecue.Take care not to confuse grilling with burning - never grill food for too long and don't grill at an excessively high heat.
Grilling is great for giving food a distinctive flavour, just think summer's BBQ. However it's not great for me, it creates hydrocarbons which are cancerous in the long term, but there’s no need not to use it - just not every day.
Frying is done in very hot oil, (140 to 180 degrees). Make sure you use frying oil which can stand up to heat (many oils cannot). Filter the oil to remove waste after each use and don’t use the same oil more than 5 times (the oil becomes more toxic the more it is used).
Fried food is basically the devil for any one trying to lose weight. Fried food is very fatty, especially when it is coated with breadcrumbs or batter that absorbs oil like a sponge.Like grilling, frying also provokes the appearance of cancerous hydrocarbons, and very high heat destroys a huge amount of vitamins. It's hard to resist fries and doughnuts, but keep your fryer for special treats!
Stewing is great for making food, like meat stay very tender and full of flavour. To get the perfect stewed meat, brown off your meat in a little oil. Once golden, throw away the oil, add water to the meat, cover and leave to cook on low heat. For the liquid, use water flavoured with herbs and spices, alcohol or fruit juice. YUM!
With thanks to Editions Eyrolles.
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