The nutrient density of your food choices depends on the quality of the foods, the methods in which you prepare the food and the cookware that you use in this preparation. The cooking method can also influence how alkaline a meal is, its inflammatory index component and also its glycemic load.
For example, raw foods generally have higher alkalinity and are less inflammatory. Cooking grains al dente will lower their glycemic effect as will adding healthy fat to a carbohydrate meal. Broiling or steaming meat will have less of an inflammatory impact then grilling or frying.
Always choose stainless steel pots and pans over aluminium. Aluminium cookware can release its toxic metals which have been linked to neurotoxicity ( toxin to the nervous system) into the food, especially with foods that are acidic or salty.
Avoid also non- stick Teflon pans which are coated with various substances including PFOA, a likely carcinogen based on research from the Environmental Working Group.
Cast Iron skillets are great for stir-fries and are generally safe cookware unless you have an iron-overload, as in the case of haemochromatosis, or in some men and postmenopausal women that have high iron diets.
It is best to avoid high temperature cooking, including frying, deep frying, bar-b-qu-ing and particularly prolonged high heat cooking. When you heat an oil to smoke point, you will have damaged the oil and released toxic substances such as PAH’s ( polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) into the food. Heating also causes nutrients such as essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E to be lost from the oil.
To be on the safe side, avoid cooking with oils and add to food once it is cooked. If you do want to stir fry with an oil, use unrefined coconut oil, ghee or avocado oil which is naturally mono-saturated and has a high smoke point. Healthy sautéing or stir-frying can be done using just water, vegetable or chicken broth in just a small amount of liquid. Heat liquid in stainless steel or an iron cast skillet; when it starts to steam add vegetables and cover for a few minutes or until tender.
It is useful to store bones of chicken or turkey in the freezer to make a broth and then freeze in small containers. Make sure the poultry you use is free-range and organic if possible. You can also cook up a large pot of vegetables, pour the broth into ice cube containers. If you do not have broth available you can use just water or add a tsp of miso paste.
Steaming is another healthy way of retaining nutrients in foods and can then be flavored with cold pressed olive oil, flax oil, herbs and or lemon juice. Light steaming vegetables cooked al dente will retain the highest nutrients and be more alkaline and anti-inflammatory. Place about a cup of water in a pot, add vegetables to colander or steaming basket. When water is boiling, place vegetables in colander on top of pot, then turn down heat to medium. Place lid on top as this will help loss of nutrients. If you are cooking several vegetables this way you can layer them by placing the denser ones that take longer in first and steam for a few minutes and then layer the rest of the vegetables. If you are having steamed fish you can add this on top of the vegetables for a quick and easy meal. You can then save the steamed water for your next stir-fry.
The old boil up is not a nutrient dense way to cook as the food is submerged and the nutrients are dispersed into the water, however, cooking silver beet, swiss chard and spinach with quick boiling can reduce the oxalate content, which in high amounts can contribute to calcium stones in the kidney or joints, but only in those with a problem processing oxalates. If boiled the oxalates go into the water and the water should be discarded. For most people, the small amount of oxalic acid in these vegetables does not pose a problem and the amount of calcium present in the vegetables will over-ride the tiny amounts bound to the oxalic acid.
Best way to cook chicken and or fish is broiling or stewed. Place your prepared and seasoned fish or chicken onto a tray or pan and place under broiler. Fish will take only a few minutes and chicken 15-20 minutes.
Poaching is also a healthy way to cook fish. You can chop up onions, herbs, garlic etc in water or broth, add the fish and place fish in boiling liquid on the stove, lowering heat and cooking for about 5 minutes.
Roasting vegetables can be a healthy way to do root vegetable like carrots, beetroot, yams, kumara. Roast in hot oven over 200c for about 30 minutes without using oil.
Vegetables should always be cooked al dente or eaten raw. Al dente is cooking just long enough to soften the cellulose and hemicelluloses ( components of the plants cell wall) to make them crunchy on the inside and tender outside. It preserves nutrients, flavor and color. Overcooking cruciferous vegetables was probably the reason so many kids hated their broccoli or cauliflower- overcooking releases the unpleasant odour from hydrogen sulfide gas. Every vegetable has its own cooking time and as they continue to cook after removing from the heat it is a delicate balance and requires careful attention. Chopping vegetables into smaller pieces will reduce the cooking time.
Char-broiling and grilling are associated with the formation of heterocyclic amines which are documented carcinogens. Gas and charcoal grilling often involves these high temperatures that produce these HCA’s. The longer the food, mainly meats, are exposed to these high temperatures the greater the HCA formation. This can increase an inflammatory response.
Roasting nuts at high temperatures can produce free radicals which causes the oxidation of fats triggering damage to arterial wall and higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Best to eat nuts and seeds raw and fresh. If you want them roasted do so at a low temperature 70 degrees c for 15-20 minutes.
It is important to include a large % of raw foods in your daily diet. Cooking and processing cause food to lose electrons which are the bodies energy source and also inactivates many enzymes essential for digestion and many metabolic processes.
=A raw food diet is naturally unprocessed and alkalizing for your system. Refer to more information on raw foods through Dhyana Tribe's "My Best Alkaline Rich Recipes"