17 of my best cooking tricks for real wellness

Here’s a few cooking and eating tips I live by for a Tuesday. Enjoy! Oh, by the way, the new nutrition makeover show I finished filming in January – Eat Yourself Sexy – will appear on Lifestyle YOU in August…in time for Spring. That should give you enough time to subscribe to Foxtel/Austar!

heather ford 1270607 unsplash 17 of my best cooking tricks for real wellness

Image by Heather Ford on Unsplash

1. I blend my tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes increases the available lycopene antioxidant content by five times. Blending tomatoes does the same but avoids the heat and oxidation, as well as water and enzyme damaging properties of cooking.

2. Marinate meat in rosemary. Cooking meat at high temperatures can create toxins called heterocyclic amines, linked to cancer. But, marinating lowers the risk by preventing the formation of the toxins –  rosemary is the most effective marinade herb to use. Makes sense. They taste good together.

3. Here’s how to do speedy pumpkin: To stirfry cubes of pumpkin (for a quick lunch salad etc) without pre-steaming it, fry it up with a liberal shake of salt. I’m not sure why, but the salt breaks down the pumpkin’s starch faster, so it softens as you fry.

4. I cook with coconut oil. It tastes amazing – a little bit sweet and a bit toasted. And it’s sooo good for you. It’s made up of ninety percent saturated fats (good fats). And 50 percent of the fat content iis a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties, as well as being antifungal, antioxidant, and soothing. PLUS it supports thyroid gland and enzyme function.Pumpkin in particular tastes great with this oil. It’s also less fattening than other oils…if that matters to you.

5. I buy organic…but only most of the time. If you need to prioritise your organic spend, try this. The twelve foods that are BEST to buy organic (because they tend to be most contaminated) are peaches, apples, capsicums, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes. The twelve least contaminated are onions, avocado, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mango, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi fruit, banana, cabbage, broccoli, papaya. So you can fairly safely buy the latter as non-organic. If you’re on a budget.

6. I make my own bone broth – I boil up some old bones (I buy them from the local butcher and brown them first in a hot oven) for 48 hours with water, a splash of vinegar, a couple of onions, carrots and celery, fresh thyme and some bay leaves. I drain, refrigerate and when cold, skim off the thick layer of congealed fat on top. It’s virtually fat-free. Then I freeze in batches to make soup, or to just drink on it’s own. Bone broth is super good for women and amazing for healing injuries. Full of collagen!!!

Me bones – they cost $1 and made about 3 litres of broth!

7. I add fresh grated turmeric to eggs. It’s anti-inflammatory – great for thyroid types. Read more here.

8. I sprinkle cinnamon on lots of stuff – yoghurt for an after-dinner snack, toasted walnuts (again, a snack), meat sauce dishes. Another great anti-inflammatory agent.

9. I keep spare stock in ice cube trays and instead of frying, I braise, using 2-3 cubes of the stock instead of oil.

10. I soak my nuts and my brown rice. It breaks down the poisonous phytic acid in the skin/husk. Never eat almonds or rice without doing this!

11. My best snack ever: activated nuts. You can buy these in health food shops, but they’re expensive. Make your own in bulk: soak a huge bag of almonds overnight in a pot of water with a tbls of rock salt. Drain. Lay out on a baking tray and “heat” in the oven at the lowest temperature possible (less than 65 C; for gas ovens – on the pilot light) for 12-24 hours. Crunchy, slightly toasty goodness. PLUS they’re full of enzymes – activated nuts have sprouted, which means their digestive enzymes have been activated, making them easier to digest, but also great for your metabolism overall. The more enzymes you eat, the less of your own body’s enzymes are required to break down food…which keeps you younger, longer.

12. Another after-dinner treat: I keep a can of coconut cream (unopened) in the fridge. It can be eaten like ice cream. And it’s sugar free! I have with frozen berries.

13. I steam and puree vegetables that are about to turn: And freeze it in batches. I then add them to meals for extra veggie boost – to casseroles, risottos, pastas, muffins, pancakes, omelettes. Pumpkin and cauliflower work really well. Jerry Seinfeld’s wife Jessica has just put out a book of recipes using pureed veggies and a February report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that it helps people lose weight – it bulks out meals with low-calorie veggies. (You can see two of the recipes developed by the researchers here.)

14. I eat fermented foods as often as possible. Yoghurt, sauerkraut, sprouts, pickled ginger etc. As per above, fermenting and sprouting activates enzymes, that lead to better gut health and a longer life!  Here’s a great turnip sauerkraut recipe!

15. Dynamic food duos: eat broccoli and tomato together. I read somewhere that they increase each others benefits. Another duo: Probiotic yoghurt and banana (if you’re not on a sugar-free diet). To really flourish, probiotic bacteria need prebiotics to be present in the colon. Prebiotics are found in bananas in the form of fructo-oligosaccharides.

16. For a flavour hit in salads and stirfries I work these condiments instead of mayonaisses etc: 1. mustard – a dollop on it’s own adds kick to a quick chicken and broccoli mix up. 2. a few anchovies tossed into a sauce or a salad or a stirfry gives a salty hit 3. apple cider vinegar – I use it to deglaze and to give a sweet-acid kick to salads…plus it’s a great digestive aid.

17. Haloumi in a sandwich press: if you’re after a quick afternoon treat, whack a few slices in the office sandwich press. Cal Wilson was obsessed with this idea when I shared it on Twitter. Or pop in a pan, if you’re at home (and don’t have a press). You don’t need extra oil. It staves off cravings until dinner. Promise!

Got any quick nutritious and ingenious tips to share? If so, I’ll create a post of the best ones. Nutritionists and food bloggers, join in!

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