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I don't know how to cook healthy

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Old 01-04-2009, 12:42 AM   #1
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Question I don't know how to cook healthy

I'm trying to climb back on the dieting wagon. I want to start making real food, but I've realized I don't know how to cook things that don't come in boxes. Go figure.

Most of the books I've come across teach you how to cook certain things or in certain ways. Or a collection of new recipes. I need something that's a little more basic than that. I basically need to be taught how to plan balanced meals and how to cook them (including the storage and preparation of fresh fruits and veggis).

Any ideas? And it doesn't have to be a book. Websites are wonderful too!

Christine
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:58 AM   #2
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I'm not sure if you're calorie counting, but I find that's the easiest way for those of us with no nutrition training to try to cook healthier. Adding up everything you put into the food will force you to look at healthier, lower-cal options.
And of course, baking instead of frying, using spray oil instead of regular oil or butter, and using your common sense (I bet you have more general knowledge of what's good than you think).
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:16 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FluffyChristine View Post
I'm trying to climb back on the dieting wagon. I want to start making real food, but I've realized I don't know how to cook things that don't come in boxes. Go figure.

Most of the books I've come across teach you how to cook certain things or in certain ways. Or a collection of new recipes. I need something that's a little more basic than that. I basically need to be taught how to plan balanced meals and how to cook them (including the storage and preparation of fresh fruits and veggis).

Any ideas? And it doesn't have to be a book. Websites are wonderful too!

Christine
A good and free resource is something called Fitday. www.fitday.com It allows you to track calories as well as some key nutrients.

There are also several downloadable programs that allow you to do the same. Fitday has a downloadable program and so does Dietpower www.dietpower.com which is the one I use.

A couple of good online recipe sites are allrecipes.com and recipezaar.com not only do they have recipes but they have articles about a variety of cooking topics. You might look into some basic cooking classes taught at your community center or local community college.

Good luck. Once you learn, it opens up a whole world of yummy and healthy food to you!
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:22 AM   #4
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FluffyChristine, try simple recipes. I invested in a crock pot and I love it. I throw in boneless/skinless chicken breast, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and some veggies. Put it on low for 6-8 hours and you have a yummy meal. My boyfriend likes pork chops, so I do the same thing: Throw in some boneless pork chops, diced potatoes, carrots, & a can of cream of mushroom soup - low heat for 8-10 hours. You can use the potatoes, carrots, and sauce over pasta, too. So you have two meals right there! Another favorite of mine is boneless/skinless chicken breast in a casserole dish, topped with pierogies, sliced mushrooms, and a can of cream of chicken. You put it in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.

I have a few diet cook books and all of them are very extravagant and have so many ingredients. I like to keep it simple. I use shake-n-bake to make chicken parmesan with whole wheat pasta. It's quite and easy and not too bad for you. Another favorite is a taco bake I make. It's just lean ground turkey, browned, in the bottom of a 9" square dish. Topped with a refried bean (1 can) /salsa (1 16oz jar) mixture. Then 1/2 cup mexican shredded cheese. It makes 4 servings and I eat them with tortilla chips.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:26 AM   #5
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One website that may help you is http://www.taste.com.au. It's an Australian magazine, so some of the ingredients may be a bit different. But if you click on the "How To" tab, there are hints for all sorts of things like cooking a casserole, dicing an onion, those sorts of basic hints.

And there is a list of ingredients which is every (fresh) food you could possibly imagine, how to choose them, how to cook them, and how to store them.

Plus it has one of the best recipe libraries I've ever come across.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:45 AM   #6
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I've found some good recipes on myrecipes.com. they have a section called "cooking light". Some of the things i've tried from that site are awesome. A lot of the recipes come with a video that shows you how to cook it. I still dont know the best way to store fruits and vegies. If i am planing to use them quickly, they go on the counter top. If it might be a few days or so, they go in the fridge. although, i may be totoally wrong
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:47 AM   #7
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Cooking Light has a great "Techniques" section on their website (they also run it in the magazine).

http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/techniques/
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:47 AM   #8
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I'm a great cook BUT that doesn't mean I cook healthy. By far the very best 'eating plan' I've found is eat2getfit dot com. It's something like $39 for the whole year and each recipe is enough for you for one meal. It's all based on keeping your blood sugar even through the day with 5 small meals that will take anywhere from 5 minutes with no cooking to 20-30 minutes. You can decide how much time to spend. Each meal is balanced to be 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. Each recipe is scaled based on your daily calorie needs. For example, my sister has less to lose than me so if we make the exact same thing, she might be told to use 5 Tbls. of yogurt and I'd be told to use 7 Tbls.- that sort of thing. As you lose weight, you re-enter your data and it recalculates your recipes/portions based on the new weight.

It absolutely takes all the thinking out of it. You'll know exactly what to eat, when to eat it, how to prepare it and be assured it's exactly the right portion. It's not processed foods you buy- it's real food you make so you're really learning how to eat long term. Some of the recipes are awesome. Some, not so much, but they have several hundred of them so you really only need to find your favorite 30 or so and stick with them.
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Old 01-04-2009, 03:13 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the great advice. I'm probably making this a lot harder than it needs to be. I think my biggest hurdle is that I've got 2 very picky eaters to deal with (my hubby and my son) and my hubby is always complaining about eating the same things all the time. So I need to find variety without using ingredients that will turn away my boys. Talk about a balancing act. I'll probably spend a few hours browsing the recipe sites.

Christine
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:33 PM   #10
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I don't know a particular book to recommend, but I will say that in the end, you just have to jump in and try. After a while, and with plenty of adjustments in your course, it gets easier. And I wasn't even a cook of any sort before starting. Now I'm a wannabe foodie
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:50 PM   #11
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I did not know how to cook. I did not know HOW to time the veggies and the protein and the carb so they would all be done at once. I learned so much from Rachel Ray's 30 minute meal shows. Some of the stuff she makes is healthy....some of it not so much, but once you learn the principles then you can tweak recipes and apply techniques across the board. Grilling and broiling are great ways to prepare meats and veggies. You can steam or saute or roast veggies too. It will take practice. I am so grateful for those 30 minute meal shows. If you don't get Food Network, see if your library or Netflix has them.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:27 PM   #12
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Midwife makes a great point. Once you master a few techniques you can expand your horizons. Think of that divided 3 part plate. For you the large section is vegetable and the other two are starchy carb (rice/pasta..) and protein. That is your fall-back plan. The boys get less of the veg and more the the others. You can pull your veggies before you add cheese sauce to theirs. You can sauce their meat and keep yours grilled. Do you have any friends that are good cooks that you can ask for some pointers on? Most people love to share their expertise.

The fruit & veg storage issue I think has a few topics on here- maybe a moderator can link? If not ask your specific ?'s and we will help.

Also if they want the mac & cheese and you want the steamed chicken & veggies you can learn to make both without going crazy- like maybe tossing your stuff with seasoning in a steamer and then making what the picky ones want as yours cooks itself! Good luck
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:32 AM   #13
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I am learning to cook as well. I used to eat nothing but microwave foods, then I moved up to the George Foreman, now I can actually use my stove and oven !

My favorite sites are www.recipezaar.com (where you can search by anything! simple recipes, healthy recipes, occasions, etc) and the hungry girl newsletter and website.

Home cooking has been my key to controlling what I eat. I'm finding it easier and easier to plan a healthy meal. My pantry is so helpful to me now, instead of hurtful!
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Old 03-21-2009, 04:15 PM   #14
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MMM most of the girls here said enough i just wanted to tell you my way of doing things healthier,
i usually dont eat anything with butter mostly oil and a little of it .i dont eat fried foods just steamed or sauted .Also cooking stuff in the oven is so much healthier,soups are a good choice not the canned ones the ones you make with cubes .also fruits veggies smoothies jello and whole grain stuff is healthier for you.
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Old 04-07-2009, 12:49 AM   #15
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I would start off small. Swap out full fat sour cream with the reduced fat. Switch off the wheat bread for the white bread. An easy trick to get your son to eat wheat bread is to use 1 slice of wheat bread and 1 slice of white and make the sandwich so the wheat slice is on the bottom of the sandwich and the white slice is on top. I saw that on one of the morning shows. Use stock to cook your rice and vegetables in. The one thing that I have bought is a food saver vacuum sealer. I use my all the time. I feel that anything you can make that doesn't require a box is going to be healthier for you.
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