Love eating out, but not sure how to decipher the menu? Which is healthier…Broiled or baked? Seared or sauteed? Glazed or infused? When you see these cooking terms on the menu are they confusing? Here are a few common food preparation methods that may help you make healthy choices.
Everyone knows this one, grilling involves cooking food over an open flame in a commercial kitchen or the backyard barbeque. This is usually a safe choice as there are rarely added fats or oils used in the process. Look for grilled fish, poultry, or vegetables.
Use dry heat and hot air in the oven or cooked by hot air in the oven or rotisserie. Baked and roasted foods are also good choices and have less added fat than many other cooking methods. Note: Some roasted foods are “basted”, brushed with butter, oils and spices or sauces to maintain moisture and add flavor which can add salt or fat to the dish.
Pan fried or deep fried foods are rarely healthy choices as they are cooked in hot fat which increases fat and calories. Battered and fried foods like fried fish or fried chicken contain even more fat as it is absorbed by the batter.
Sauteed and Stir Fried
Both are similar, the only difference is the shape of the pan. Sauteed or stir-fried foods are healthier than fried foods, but still require the use of fats or oils. The degree of health depends on the type of oil used, healthy oils like olive oil or canola oil are better choices.
Seared and Blackened
Very similar to sauteed but with an even smaller amount of fat or oil. The food is cooked in a hot pan or griddle until the outside is crisp or burned (blackened) and the inside is only partially cooked. Often used with seafood, seared foods can be healthy if the oil used is healthy olive oil or canola oil.
Cooked over boiling water, steamed foods are an excellent choice as the nutrients aren’t cooked away. Choose steamed vegetables as your side dish, they stay crisp and maintain their color.
Yes, just like a glazed donut, glazed foods like carrots or ham are covered with a thin sugar coating. Not a healthy option.
The food, usually meat, is first browned or sauteed in a pan and then left to simmer and finish cooking in its own juices until tender. Braised foods are moderately healthy if little oil is used and not covered in gravy.
Infused foods absorb or are filled with flavor or liquids. In the case of infused water, the water is infused with flavors of fruit left in the water. Infusion may involve alcohol, sangria is an example of fruit and wine infusion. Healthy? Depends on the ingredients infused.
Smothered often refers to foods cooked and or covered in gravy. Chicken, chicken fried steak, pork chops and biscuits are often smothered in gravy. Comfort foods yes, healthy, no.
Smoked foods, often meats or fish, are cooked and flavored or preserved by exposure to smoke from burning wood. The smoking process may be harmful, consider other options if available.