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How to be healthy with home cooking |

How to be healthy with home cooking

L. Brent Bozell III
| Sunday, September 14, 2014 9:00 p.m

If you stay out of the kitchen, chances are your diet — and health — will suffer. Several studies show that dining out often is linked with higher body weight, body fat and obesity. What’s the antidote? It’s easy: wholesome, home-cooked meals that feature fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. After all, it’s much easier to produce meals with more healthful ingredients and cooking techniques when you do the cooking yourself.

Make a pact to do more home cooking of delicious, health-promoting meals by improving your culinary skills. Chef Brendan Walsh, dean of culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America, shares some of his essential strategies for home cooking:

Get organized. Chefs call it “mis-en-place,” which means “putting it in place.” In order to be a good cook, you have to set yourself up and be organized. Plan your weekly menu with a shopping list, so that you have everything you need on hand. When you start cooking, assemble all of your ingredients and tools, and clean up as you go.

Buy great ingredients. Prioritize high-quality ingredients — the cornerstone of delicious, healthy food. Select fresh vegetables in season and at their peak, look for trusted brands, and be choosy when selecting lean meats, poultry and fish.

Store your items properly. One firm kitchen rule, according to Walsh, is to limit foods’ exposure to air and water to help foods stay fresh longer. Keep foods covered, out of sunlight and at an appropriate temperature — below 40 degrees F for perishable items. If you’re freezing leftovers, place them in airtight containers and label with the date.

Prep your foods wisely. You can save a great deal of time during preparation, which can be your biggest challenge in cooking. Walsh suggests prepping ahead when possible, such as slicing all of your onions and carrots for the next few days, or cooking up a whole pound of beans and using them in a few dishes during the week.

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