No reason to be afraid of fat, but living Paleo and eating like your cave man ancestors does mean a commitment to eating the right kinds of fat in quantities that support your weight goals and good health. And that means that some traditional cooking methods — like breading and deep frying — are banished from the kitchen.
Happily, you can pick from plenty of other ways, such as the following, to cook meats and vegetables that preserve their nutrition and infuse them with good taste:
Grilling: A hot grill not only cooks your food but also adds a slightly smoky quality that enhances the flavor and requires little to no added fat for cooking — so you can get your fats from the meat itself or from a drizzle of a luscious sauce.
The possibilities for flavorful grilled steaks, chops, kebabs, and chicken parts are endless, but barbecuing is also a great way to cook vegetables. The large surface means you can cook a lot of food at once for leftovers you can rely on all week. Marinate both meats and vegetables before grilling to infuse them with flavor.
Braising: When meats are braised, they're first browned on high heat to caramelize the outside then slowly cooked in flavored liquid to tenderize the meat and steep it in seasonings. Braising can be done in a covered pan in the oven or on the stovetop in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid.
The meat can be simmered in water or stock spiked with herbs, spices, and vegetables. This method works well with inexpensive, tougher cuts of meat, coaxing them into tenderness.
Sautéing and stir-frying: A nonstick skillet means you can take advantage of the taste bud–pleasing flavors of sautéing, without needing to add excess fat. When you pan-cook thinly sliced, uniformly sized meat and vegetables in a little fat, the ingredients are lightly browned, which means the sugars caramelize, adding pleasing depth to the natural flavors.
You can add a variety of seasonings to change the taste of the dish; for example, simply add a crushed garlic clove, a little olive oil, and a handful of fresh herbs just before the end of cooking.
Roasting: It doesn't get much easier than placing a chicken or beef roast in a pan, surrounding it with hearty vegetables, and tucking it into the oven for a few hours. The meat cooks in its natural juices, and you can turn the drippings in the bottom of the pan into a sauce (after simmering and straining). Simple, healthy, and easy.
Slow cooking: The magic of the slow cooker is that it does all the work while you do other things like exercising, working, grocery shopping, or even taking a nap!
Meats and vegetables cook on low temperatures over longer periods of time than other cooking methods, so the meat gets tender and the flavors meld. You can make everything from roasted meats to curries and soups in a slow cooker with minimal fuss.
Steaming: This method may be the best way to optimize the nutrition and flavor of vegetables. The steam locks the nutrients into the vegetables, brightening their color and making them tender to the bite. Steamed vegetables store well in the refrigerator and can be reheated and seasoned with your favorite fats and spices — or eaten cold and tossed with your favorite salad dressing.
Poaching: Chicken breasts and fish fillets are ideal for poaching, either to be eaten on their own or used in salads. Simmering these cuts in liquid — water, stock, or broth enhanced with herbs — gently cooks them, retaining their natural, tender texture without drying them out.