Learn to Cook Heart-Healthy Meals

Although it’s usually healthier to cook at home than to order takeout or eat in restaurants, people often avoid cooking because they think they don’t know how.

In her book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, Kathleen Flinn talks about this fear and shares her experience where she taught nine women who were novice cooks how to prepare healthy meals at home.

Cooking pleasing meals for your family (or yourself!) isn’t difficult, but it’s easy to be daunted if you don’t know where to find help.  It just takes a little brainstorming, a few good utensils and simple ingredients.

  1. Gather Your Tools. To get started, invest in a few good-quality knives, pots, skillets, bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and baking sheets and pans.
  2. Develop a Lineup of Reliable Recipes. Building your collection can be as easy as googling “healthy meals in 30 minutes.” When I did this, Google delivered more than 109 million results. Do you prefer cookbooks that provide basic instructions? Browse through your local bookstore or library for recipe collections that appeal to you. 
  3. Learn Basic Techniques. Basic cookbooks often provide illustrated instructions. Or check out videos on cooking websites. For example, roasting a pork tenderloin can be a simple meal. Simply rub spices into the meat, place it in a roasting pan in the oven and let the oven do the work! Using a sheet pan recipe, you can roast all of the components of your meal at one time. Sauteing is another valuable skill to quickly cook sliced vegetables, fish fillets and chicken breasts.
  4. Let Your Supermarket Help. It’s best to steer clear of prepared foods, which contain excess sodium, sugar and additives, but grocery stores offer plenty of assistance to newbie cooks. For example, in the meat section, look for precut meats, such as thinly sliced chicken breasts, which can be dipped in beaten egg whites, coated with breadcrumbs, parsley and spices and sauteed quickly; chicken tenders that can be marinated ahead and grilled; or beef round cubes that can be marinated and then threaded onto skewers with chunks of vegetables and grilled.
  5. Take a Class. Still unsure of your skills? Check with your local hospital or adult education program to see if it offers heart-healthy cooking classes. To pick up some new techniques, check out TV cooking shows or YouTube videos, although keep in mind that their recipes may not be completely healthy!
  6. Relax. You are preparing a meal—not performing life-altering surgery. If the meal doesn’t turn out the way exactly as you expect, don’t be discouraged. There are many other recipes that you may enjoy more, and your skills will improve as you cook more dishes.

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