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Healthy Cooking Tips

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make or break a meal. Use the following information to make your meals not just more nutritious, but more delicious!

Portion Sizes
By understanding the average portion size of different foods, you can avoid overeating. The following are general estimates for a variety of foods.

  • Protein: one serving is no larger than the size of your palm, or 3 oz.
  • Starchy side dishes: the size of a tennis ball
  • Medium piece of fruit: tennis-ball size
  • One ounce of cheese: 4 dice
  • Cabbage family: 1 cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked
  • Dark leafy greens: 1 cup raw
  • Water: 6 to 8 8-oz. glasses per day
  • Beans and legumes: one-half cup cooked
  • Whole grains: 1 slice whole-wheat bread, 1/2 cup cooked grains, cereal or pasta, 1 oz. ready-to-eat cereal

Cooking Techniques
To get the most out of your foods, use the following tips and tricks to maximize flavor and nutrients.

  • Get Firm on Tofu: Freeze tofu or gently press the water out to make it firmer. If you like, you can marinate it prior to cooking for more flavor.
  • Safe Grilling:  Pre-cook meats on the stove or in the oven, and finish them off on the grill – less time on the grill means less carcinogens on your meats.
  • Cook These Veggies:   Avoid eating raw peas, beans, alfalfa sprouts, lentil sprouts, mung bean sprouts and mushrooms.
  • Cut the Fat in Thai Food:   When cooking with coconut milk, substitute evaporated skim milk for half the amount.
  • Cooking Asparagus:   Asparagus should only cook for five minutes in boiling, salted water. It should be crisp-tender, never mushy.
  • Toasting Nuts:   Stir raw almonds, cashews or walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat or spread them on a baking sheet placed in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Toss occasionally until they are done to your liking.
  • Cooking Millet:  To cook millet as a grain instead of rice, just simmer 1/2 cup in 1 1/2 cups of liquid. If you leave it alone as it cooks, you’ll get fluffy grains like rice; if you stir frequently and add a little extra liquid during cooking, you’ll get a dish that resembles mashed potatoes. It takes about 25 minutes to cook millet by simmering.  
  • Get Sweet on Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients (including carotenoids, copper, and fiber) and rank much lower on the glycemic index scale than white potatoes.