Even if you keep a pretty busy schedule and do not have much time to spend in the kitchen, there are a few skills that you should be able to do that will make it easier for you to prepare healthy meals for yourself when necessary. The following skills are not taught in many home economics courses anymore, but they are easy to pick up and well worth knowing if you are trying to lead a health-conscious lifestyle.
How to Season a Cast-Iron Skillet
A cast-iron skillet is an essential part of a healthy kitchen, as it allows you to sear meats, fish and vegetables in a way that gives you a lot of flavor without a lot of fat. These skillets last forever and are pretty low-maintenance as long as they are seasoned regularly. To do this, heat the skillet up and rub canola oil all over the internal part of the skillet, then bake in in the oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes. This will give you a perfectly seasoned pan.
How to Make and Skim Your Own Stock
Stock is great for soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes, and making it can be as easy as throwing leftover vegetables and bones (for example, the bones from a whole roast chicken) into a stock pot and leaving it to simmer for a long time before you strain it. However, it is also good to know how to remove the fat. The easiest way is to chill the stock overnight: as things cool, the fat will rise to the top of the stock and you can scoop it off easily, then use it as needed.
How to Grate
Many people do not use their graters very often unless it is for cheese, but grating vegetables is a good skill to have for healthy living, too. For instance, grating broccoli makes it very tender and easy to toss into a salad for extra flavor, vitamins and minerals. Quickly grating vegetables such as carrots, turnips or radishes and tossing them into soups, stews, pasta dishes or casseroles is a good way to increase your vegetable intake without really changing the flavor of the dish.
How to Poach
Most people think of eggs when they hear the term “poaching” but this is also a great way to handle some meat and fish dishes as well. It is a heart-healthy way to cook which adds no fat but plenty of flavor. To poach, simply add some broth, wine and herbs to a simmer in a pan then drop the chicken or salmon into it and cook until done. It is moist and the taste is wonderful.
How to Braise
Leaner cuts of meat with less fat on them may be healthier, but they can also be a lot tougher if you do not know how to cook them. The best way to braise meat – in other words, cut it over a low heat for a very long time – is to do it in the crockpot, where the meat is covered in wine or stock as it cooks.
These five skills are easy to pick up and will make it easier for you to prepare healthy foods when you are in the kitchen.
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