Oct 15, 2009

MY DIVA DIET Food Preparation, Cooking, and Meal Planning Guide: 52 Tips

There are many cookbooks on the market today, like What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook—just pick the ones that make good health a top priority. Then we can take any healthy recipe and make it fit (for fat reduction).

This section of MY DIVA DIET is not meant to be a cookbook, but rather it serves as a quick guide to help get you in the kitchen to prepare healthy and fit meals.For a complete and healthy guide to cooking, try The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan www.worldshealthiestfoods.com.

Whether you are the chef at home or someone else is doing the cooking, these tips help create healthy, fit foods that taste great. You can also cross-reference this guide with the MY DIVA DIET Restaurant Eating Guide to ensure all your cooking is appropriate for fat loss
and wellness (this means physical well-being, achieved through a good diet and exercise).

Cooking Tips
#1. Avoid microwave cooking, if possible, because it destroys the enzymes in foods.

#2. Cooking can be quick and healthy if you are prepared. Stock your kitchen with the right tools for cooking. And make sure your kitchen is sanitized properly! And all foods washed accordingly!

#3. Cooking without oil is a good idea for two reasons: oil can be damaged in the heating process, and oil adds more fat to a dish.

#4. Some oil is more resistant to heat than others. In fact, depending on the temperature and the type of oil used, it can even become harmful. When cooking with oil, it is best to use a high-oleic version of sunflower or safflower oils. Olive oil (extra- virgin) is too sensitive for cooking at high temperatures, but can be used when cooking at low to medium temperatures.

#5. It’s okay to use non-stick cooking sprays. Make sure they do not contain alcohol and other harmful ingredients. Check that the oils used are unsaturated (like sunflower, safflower, olive, and canola). A good product is Trader Joe’s Extra-Virgin Italian Olive Oil Spray.

#6. Olive oil is great on salads and in sauces. It’s best to use organic, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil.

Herbs, Spices and Other Seasonings
#7. For the many health benefits, few calories, and great flavor, you can’t ignore the value of using herbs, spices, and vegetables in your cooking. There are many to choose from, such as garlic, onions, leeks, basil, pepper, oregano, sage, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, black pepper, coriander, parsley, thyme, dill weed, and others. Fruit is another way to add flavor and nutrients to your dishes.

#8. Keep many herbs and spices—such as fresh basil, cilantro, oregano, and pepper—readily available. You never know when you will need them for a specific dish.

#9. It is best to purchase herbs and spices fresh, but if they are not, make sure they are untainted. Be leery of herbs and spices that have been packaged—especially the ones that are mixed with other ingredients and additives that are not beneficial to health.

#10. Salt is okay to use, but do not drown the flavor of your foods. It is best to use sea salt or kosher salt—not refined table salt.

#11. You don’t really need to cook with sugar at all, in any circumstance. For baking, consider a pure high-quality honey or agave nectar.

#12. When using beef or chicken broth, use an organic, low-sodium, gluten-free product.

Beef, Poultry, Fish and Eggs
#13. Beef, poultry and fish should be baked, broiled, or grilled—never breaded or deep-fried. You can stir-fry your meats and poultry, but watch the amount of oil you use. Try poaching your fish; it is an easy and mild way to prepare fish.

#14. Eggs and egg whites can be scrambled or made omelet-style. Hard-boiled and poached are other great options.

Whole Grains
#15. Whole grains are easy to prepare (use a rice cooker for perfect rice). Oats, quinoa, buckwheat, and other whole grains are easy to prepare as well, and some can be prepared using your rice cooker.

#16. Whole grains can be used raw or cooked in any recipes—in soups, stews, salads, and for baking, and they are a great substitute for bread crumbs.

#17. Whole grains are enjoyable to use as a side dish to any meal.

#18. Whole grains taste superior alone. You don’t need to add anything when cooking or serving. But, if you must, here are some ideas that add flavor without adding junk.

Potatoes and Yams
#19. Bake or boil your potatoes and yams. You can eat the skin too!

#20. Baked potatoes have a fine flavor, but you may want a little extra. Skip the traditional way of topping your baked potato (butter, sour cream, and bacon) because this packs way too many calories, contains bad foods, and masks the potato’s natural flavor. Try the MY Diva Diet way of eating a potato—one that keeps it a low calorie, high nutrient meal that tastes good.

#21. Eat a cooked yam like an apple. This is a great on-the-go snack.

#22. Yams are best left alone with their sweet flavor, but try a few dashes of cinnamon and/or or a dab of real butter.

Legume, Nuts and Seeds
#23. Try germinating and/or sprouting your own legumes, nuts, and seeds. That way you get the entire raw benefit and avoid any man-manipulated food problems.

#24. Legumes, nuts, and seeds are enjoyable alone, as a snack, side dish, and in many recipes. They are a nice addition to baking, especially when making your own bread or other baked goods.

#25. Legumes, nuts, and seeds should be used often as they are a good source of protein and most are high in fiber. See how you can add more of these to your diet below.

#26. Raw vegetables are best. But if you need to cook your veggies, they should be baked, grilled, roasted, or steamed. Stir-fried and sautéed are other ways to prepare veggies; just watch the amount of oil used.

#27. When you cook your veggies, make sure to do it quickly. Do not overcook your
vegetables—nutrients get damaged and flavor is lost.

#28. Better to have all foods al dente than overcooked (exceptions are eggs, meats, and fish).

#29. Your veggies have their own wonderful flavors; don’t drown them with sauces, butter, oils, or salt.

#30. Be creative with your salads and choose a variety of vegetables. Who said that green lettuce is the only way to make a salad? Use colors!

#31. Try adding other veggies to your salad (like raw celery and cooled asparagus) to add more nutrients and fiber.

#32. Add some legumes, nuts, and seeds (like chickpeas, peas, almonds, and sunflower seeds) to your salad to add crunch and more protein and fiber.

#33. Try chopping your salad ingredients into smaller sizes to create a different texture from your average salad.

#34. When making a salad, make a little extra for the next day. To prevent soggy veggies, don’t add dressing to the entire salad. These extra veggies will be great for next-day, omelets, sandwiches, wraps, salads, or snacks.

#35. Make sure you don’t drown your salad with dressing. Pepper is a great natural flavor enhancer for all salads and other dishes. Did you know peppercorns offer a digestive aid, provide an important antioxidant, have an antibiotic activity, and help with weight control?

#36. Try adding only Balsamic vinegar to your salad or veggies—it has barely any calories and is full of flavor.

#37. When making soup, it is best to make it broth-based. Cream soups require high-fat type products. Again, use a variety of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.

#38. Always choose low-sodium and low-fat broth when making soup so that your bowl of soup does not contain your entire daily allowance of sodium milligrams and fat grams.

#39. When making soup, make a little extra for the next day’s snack, lunch, or side-dish. You can even freeze single servings of leftover soup.

#40. Be cautious when using cheese in your food preparation, in any recipe or as a topping. Cheese is high in calories and fat grams. Try using Parmesan, Romano, or feta cheese to add flavor without adding too many calories—a small amount goes a long way.

Canned Foods
#41. When using canned foods (like tuna, legumes, olives, etc.), choose low-sodium brands and make sure you rinse the contents thoroughly with water to eliminate as much sodium as possible. Even though products are labeled low-sodium, some are not low enough.

#42. Think about using fruit as a side dish, garnish, or dessert.

#43. Try whole grain or rice pasta and serve it as a side dish to control the serving size and amount of calories.

#44. For a low-carbohydrate meal, skip the pasta and just have some tomato sauce with turkey meatballs and a side salad.

#45. Try spaghetti squash with some marinara as a side dish. This is a great low-carbohydrate, high-nutrient idea.

Planning Ahead
#46. Make extra of whatever you’re cooking for another meal.
  • Make a few chicken breasts or turkey patties for the next day’s lunch. Make a large bowl of veggies so you have food the next day for your breakfast omelet, snack, or salad.

#47. Keep a few hard-boiled eggs handy to use for a quick breakfast or snack.

#48. Always have a freshly baked chicken or turkey on hand as some pure protein ready to add to your salad, soup, sandwich, or wrap. This is even good for your next-day lunch item.

#49. When you know you are going to be away from home for more than three hours try to:
  • Eat before you go.
  • Carry snack items with you.
  • Know where to get healthy, fit foods.
  • Know where to get clean and pure smoothies and protein shakes.
#50. Try some of the “Spice Up Your Meals” products as ingredients or additions to your recipes and meals. These give lots of spice without too many calories, too much sodium, and unneeded sugar or white flour.

See our more complete Herbs and Spices section in PART SEVEN (and on my blog: Herbs and Spices the Forgotten Treaure) for great ways to add flavor, nutrients, and medicinal usage for a given meal or recipes—without the extra calories!

#51. Last but not least, keep your refrigerator clean.

#52. If you don’t cook, see the MY DIVA DIET Restaurant Eating Guide in PART SIX and my next blog!

This is an EXCERPT from MY DIVA DIET: A Woman's Last Diet Book where you will find over 400 pages of great information, valuable tool, recipes, meal plans and so much more so you can lose weight and gain health––NOW!

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