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Clean Cooking Methods for Cancer-Fighting Foods

If you’re new to cooking or even to healthy cooking, and you're faced with a cancer diagnoses and a desire to eat clean, suddenly immersing yourself in new techniques can be intimidating. And, you don't need the added stress. Here is a break down some of the most common healthy cooking techniques and how they work so you’ll be cooking like a clean eating guru before you know it!

Baking for clean eating

This technique cooks food by surrounding it with dry heat in an oven. Everything from lean proteins, to starches, to produce can be cooked by baking. To get started, preheat your oven by turning it on and allowing it to warm to the desired temperature. After your dish is prepared and placed in an oven-safe vessel, place it in the fully preheated oven for the amount of time the recipe calls for.

Ovens can run hotter or cooler than their temperature gauge indicates, which can impact your recipe. To ensure a proper cooking temperature, use an oven thermometer placed inside the oven to check the temperature. These thermometers are typically hung on an oven rack.

Boiling when eating clean

Boiling cooks foods immersed in a liquid. Two methods are generally used to boil foods. They can be placed into already rapidly boiling liquid (usually water) and then have the heat turned down so the food simmers, such as often occurs with pastas.

Alternatively, the food can be placed into the pot with a cold liquid, brought to a boil, and cooked until the food is done, as is often done with produce and eggs. Although nutrients do leach out of foods that are boiled, they still retain a lot of their nutrients.

This is also a low-fat way to prepare a variety of whole foods when water or a low-fat liquid (like low-fat milk or broth) is used.

When boiling produce, consider reserving the cooking liquid for use as a base for soups and sauces.

Broiling for clean eating

Broiling cooks foods by placing them very close to the heating element in the oven. Because broiling uses a direct, high heat, it usually only takes a few minutes to cook lean, non-thick cuts of proteins, like fish fillets and chicken breasts.

Start by preheating the broiler for five to seven minutes. Season your meat and place it on a broiler pan or in a shallow baking pan. Then place the pan in the oven about 5 inches from the heat source, or further if the cut is thicker; very thick cuts of meat should not be broiled.

Depending on the thickness of the meat, you can turn it over between the five- and ten-minute mark. Cook the meat on the other side until it reaches the appropriate internal temperature.

Microwaving when fighting cancer

Microwaving produces microwaves, a form of electromagnetic radiation that causes water molecules in food to vibrate and produce heat, which cooks the food. In the United States, the FDA has strict safety standards that microwave manufacturers must meet, including that radiation emissions not pose a hazard to public health.

Some nutrients break down when foods are microwaved (such as vitamin C) because of their exposure to heat, but because cooking times are shorter with microwaves, microwaves may do a better job of preserving nutrients than other cooking methods.

To ensure safety, always follow the manufacturer’s instruction manual for recommended operating procedures and safety precautions, and never operate a microwave if the door doesn’t close or is damaged or warped.

Stir-frying when eating clean

This method enables you to quickly cook food (mainly meats, vegetables, and rice or noodles), in a small amount of oil in either a sauté pan or a skillet. To get started, place your pan over a medium-high heat and allow it to warm before adding oil.

When the pan is hot, add in just enough healthy oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Once the oil heats, add your ingredients. Keep a close eye on the food, stirring often, to ensure even cooking and to prevent burning.

Steaming for clean eating

Steaming enables you to cook vegetables to a crisp texture. Wash and cut your vegetables into equal-sized pieces to promote even cooking. Then place a large pot filled with 1 to 2 inches of water over high heat and bring to a boil.

Place your steaming basket into the pot, add your vegetables, and cover the pot. Let the vegetables sit in the steam for a few minutes until they achieve the desired tenderness. Remove the lid carefully to prevent the steam from burning your hands, and serve the vegetables immediately.

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