Kitchen hacks to reduce nutrient losses while cooking
No matter how old you are or how busy you are, following healthy cooking habits is a must, so as to derive maximum benefits from the foods you consume. And this becomes especially important during pregnancy and lactation, when another little life is dependent on you for its survival and proper growth and development. This is why one must know of some simple kitchen hacks to minimize nutrient loss while cooking, so that the meal prepared is truly healthy for both the mother and the baby.
Ways to reduce nutrient loss while cooking:
- Only peel a thin layer: If the fruit or vegetable peel is edible, wash the food item well and eat or cook the food whole. In case a food requires the outer skin to be removed, ensure you remove only a very thin layer. While it is necessary to make sure you avoid consuming any contaminants, especially during pregnancy, you shouldn’t lose out on essential nutrients. After all, your body’s demand for nutrients surges during pregnancy.
- Wash before you chop: All vegetables need to be washed thoroughly to practice hygiene and remove any contaminants. However, it is extremely essential to see to it that these vegetables are first washed and then chopped into pieces. Try to opt for bigger pieces rather than finer/smaller pieces to prevent nutrient loss while cooking.
- Choose wise cooking techniques: Cooking is all about skills and wisdom. While boiling requires a lot of water which might get discarded after the food becomes tender, if the dish you are preparing allows it, switch to steaming as a method of cooking. This way, the water containing water-soluble vitamins will not be lost and all of it will be retained in the food.
- Reuse: The water in which any food is prepared is loaded with water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B6 and folate. Hence, making the most of it is essential. These nutrients are especially needed during pregnancy to prevent complications. So, after the vegetables are cooked, the remaining water, which is now the stock, can be used to prepare other dishes like soups and gravies. This will enhance both taste and nutrient content. If your pregnancy allows you to eat only small meals due to morning sickness, or the lactation period is keeping you on your toes, such meals will provide you with concentrated doses of nutrients.
- Eat them raw: Research shows that any food has the highest vitamin C in its raw form. Thus, as and when you can, eat fruits and veggies in their natural form. If you have to cook certain vegetables, use steaming as the cooking technique, as the loss of vitamin C will be least in this case. Vitamin C is an important nutrient as it helps in providing immunity and aids in the physical development of the baby.
- Reduce cooking time: Cooking foods for long periods of time or reheating several times can lead to nutrient loss. Thus, from time to time, resort to cooking and eating fresh foods, instead of making one dish in a large amount and heating it several times.
- Avoid baking soda: Baking soda is often used to make vegetables look more appealing, as it lends an attractive green colour. However, this soda can leach vitamin C from the food.
- Opt for a low flame: When heating high-quality vegetable oil, avoid high flame as this will reduce its benefits.
- Soak and sprout: Plant-based food, especially grains, seeds and legumes, contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid, which might interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium. Soaking or sprouting them before cooking helps decrease the anti-nutrient content, thereby reducing the threat of mineral deficiencies.
It is a known fact that nutrient demands are high during pregnancy and lactation, and hence, it doesn’t make sense to let go of nutrients through improper cooking methods. Be it pre-preparation or the actual cooking of a food item, take judicial decisions to ensure that every bite is packed with nutrition. As mentioned above, by reducing the cooking time, managing the temperature, controlling the amount of water used and using the right cooking technique, you can make meals healthier and more wholesome.