5 Keys To Healthy Cooking: Preparing Savory Meals That Are Good For You

You love to cook. Even better, you're good at it. So much so that your work in the kitchen has attracted accolades from friends and family. The problem is, the meals you prepare aren't as healthy as you'd like them to be. They may leave your guests begging for more, but too much of a good thing can take a toll on the body.

What if you could make small changes to your cooking style that transform the foods you prepare into healthy meals? And what if you could do so without sacrificing taste? We'll show you how below. Read on for five "secrets" to healthy cooking. The next time your friends and family ask for seconds, you'll be able to tell them they can eat without regret.

#1 - Find Replacements For Salthttp://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-woman-cooking-healthy-food-image19806544

A pinch of salt can turn a mediocre dish into a good one, and a good dish into a great one. But people tend to use too much salt in the kitchen. For some, it has become a cooking crutch. Does the meal need more flavor? Add salt. Does it need a boost? Throw in another dash of salt. Is the dish missing something? It needs more salt!

There's a better way to liven up your cooking, and it's far healthier than reaching for the salt shaker. Try throwing in a bit of freshly-ground black pepper. Or, cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice over your culinary concoction. How about a hint of fresh roasted garlic?

There are lots of alternatives to table salt. And some will actually make your cooking taste better.

#2 - Go For The Right Kinds Of Fats

Some fats are clearly better for you and your guests than others. A lot of home cooking uses the bad kind, the stuff that contributes to heart disease and various other health conditions. The good kind is healthy and will leave your food tasting great.

A lot of people think all saturated fats are bad for you. But the reality is much different. Some saturated fats provide valuable health benefits. An example is virgin coconut oil. It's over 90 percent saturated fat, which scares folks away. But it is easily absorbed by the intestine, and contains plenty of lauric acid.

Other fats to use in your cooking include organic butter, ghee, and duck fat. As a general rule, avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils, which contain too much trans fat.

#3 - Use Lean Cuts Of Meat

Meat oftentimes takes center stage in meals. It tastes great and can sate just about any appetite. Unfortunately, other ingredients, such as vegetables, grains, and potatoes, are forced to play second fiddle.

If you're using lean cuts in your cooking, this is not necessarily a bad thing. There's plenty of protein in meat. But as already noted, it is possible to enjoy too much of a good thing. And too much red meat can cause long-term health problems, not least of which is a shorter lifespan, according to a recent Harvard study.

Replace the beef and pork cuts with chicken and turkey. Poultry is a great low-fat alternative to red meat as long as you take the fatty skin off the cuts. You can also include fish in your cooking. Salmon, trout, and albacore tuna are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to prevent heart attack and stroke. With the right pairing of ingredients, they can add a delicious new dimension to your meals.

Chicken Salad

#4 - Go Easy On The Creams And Sauces

A lot of dishes make liberal use of creamy sauces. Not only do they look and taste great, but they also stick to the ribs. They can keep a person's hunger at bay for hours on end. But there's a price to pay for those benefits, and the heart is usually the one that pays it. The heavy creams and sauces contain a lot of fat.

One option is to replace heavy cream with skim milk and low-fat mayo. You can also reduce the amount of cheese used in your sauces. While you're at it,  use olive oil rather than butter.

Another option is to avoid using creams altogether, or at least cut back substantially on the amount you put on your meals. Assuming your cooking chops are reasonably good, the taste of the foods you prepare should more than compensate for the cutback. An important side benefit: your heart will thank you.

#5 - Add Some Veggies

If you're like most people, you're not eating enough vegetables. And if you're like most kitchen cooks, you're not including enough of them in the dishes you prepare. The good news is that veggies can be a perfect complement to your meals. A side of mushrooms, carrots, and asparagus can bring out the flavors in your meals' main ingredients.

The next time you cook a big meal, throw in a few helpings of vegetables. Grill them and stick them on skewers, or steam them and place them next to the star of your dish. You'll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing the food you're eating is not only tasty, but good for you.

It is possible to cook healthy dishes that make your friends and family swoon in delight. It's a matter of making simple changes to your cooking style. Use the ideas above to create meals that are both delicious and heart-healthy.