Cooking can be relaxing for some and for others it is a chore. I seem to be one who loves to cook and I find it very relaxing. Trying to include ingredients that can boost the Health of those I cook for is becoming easier. A little knowledge of ingredients can help this process. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first to jump in and eat things that probably are not the best for my body. Favorites are things like queso, burgers, creamy pasta, rich meats with decadent sauces, any kind of potato, mac and cheese… you see where I am going right?
I am no longer a twenty-eight year old that can eat milkshakes with whipped cream on top. I am lucky if I have ice cream twice a year. What I have found is there are certain ingredients that make a delicious dish healthier for me and for those I cook for. I find myself cooking for people that have high blood pressure, cholesterol issues and those that need to limit their salt intake. Instead of cream I might substitute yogurt, other things I add to our dishes are spinach, garlic and shallots. Each of those ingredients benefit our health while adding a little something tasty to our meal.
Benefits from healthy ingredients
When possible I try to purchase organic to ensure the lack of chemicals in our food. I wish I had been more aware of ingredients and where they came from when I was younger. I pay much closer attention to ingredients these days.
Spinach does it all
One of the easiest ingredients to boost health is spinach, just slip it into meals and it generally cooks from the heat of the dish. Spinach is a great source of fiber, multiple vitamins, iron and calcium. Some believe spinach helps with high blood pressure. The multiple compounds found in spinach can improve heart health, infections, inflammations and even eye health. I add spinach to a lot of soups, I slip it into things like my Asian Turkey bowl and my Lasagna soup. Use spinach in your dishes!
Garlic can help with a number of common health issues
My other go to ingredient when appropriate is garlic. There are some fun facts about Garlic: according to healthline.com, about an ounce of garlic contains multiple vitamins, including vitamin C and B6, magnesium and some fiber. Garlic is part of the same family as onions and shallots, the allium family. I personally toss garlic into as many dishes as I can without overtaking the flavor because it is known to improve high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In general garlic is believed to help most aspects of the body, including the possibility of helping with dementia.
Different ways to add garlic to boost the health of those you love
When using garlic you can do a number of things to it. First you can just peel it and crush it. I don’t do this very often but if you were marinating something, this is a good way to get garlic flavor into the marinade. I mince my garlic most of the time, chopping it finely. Sometimes I do a rough chop. This is something I do when I know I am going to puree a sauce or if I am roasting vegetables or meat and want garlic flavor. Pressing garlic was all the rage when I got married. I did not grow up in a household that used garlic, at least not that I remember. In recent years I don’t hear many people discuss pressing garlic.
One time I looked into the different ways to deal with garlic in dishes and I was surprised to see pressed garlic releases the most flavor in a dish. I have heard other people say if they are sautéing it they like it chopped up, but in a dressing they might mince it. Generally I press garlic when it is not getting cooked at all, for example in a dressing. Generally I chop it or mince it depending on the dish and if the garlic will be cooked at all or just added in.
Don’t forget to roast that garlic
Another delicious thing to do with garlic is to roast it. This is such a tasty way to use ingredients to boost the health of those you love. Roasting garlic is ridiculously easy to do. I introduced my husband to roasted garlic at a lunch spot in Carmel Valley, The Cork Screw. He was skeptical at first but he couldn’t get enough of it. I am aware some people can’t eat garlic because it almost oozes out of the skin and they smell awful. That isn’t the case with me.
If you want to try roasting garlic , just cut off the tops of a bunch of garlic, place in some foil, drizzle lightly with olive oil. Fold it up in the foil and place in an over preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave it unbothered for about 45 minutes. When you remove it, carefully unfold the foil and remove each little garlic clove and spread it on a cracker with some goat cheese or boursin cheese or add to mashed potatoes, you can thank me later. If you let the garlic cool, you can almost squeeze each garlic clove out. I have begun using roasted garlic in recipes like salsa or bread elevating the final flavor.
Shallot and onions share benefits with garlic
I have never been a huge onion person, however my daughter and her husband introduced me to shallots. Shallots have so many health benefits including a great source of selenium which can benefit anti-aging, hair and skin. Shallots and onions are both members of the allium family along with garlic. As a result they share many of the same health benefits of garlic. I prefer shallots, they don’t overpower a dish and in my opinion add more depth than white onions. Red onions are great in greek dishes or salads. Shallots have been a wonderful addition for my cooking, allowing me to enjoy food that might normally have avoided because of the onions. I don’t even notice shallots when eating whatever I put them in but I do love the flavor they add.
Being responsible with ingredients can create dishes with health benefits
When cooking for those you love it is so important to consider the ingredients. Consider how the ingredients can benefit the health of those you share your food creations with. I have listed just a few ingredients above, the list goes on and on of healthy ingredients.. It is your job to be responsible with the ingredients you use, boosting the health of those you cook for while creating balanced healthy dishes.