If you want to cook healthy, nutritious, flavorful food at home, you can do it.
While there are lots of recipes online to help beginning cooks, busy cooks, and people on a budget, very few tell you how to buy the ingredients you need to prepare your food. After all, the quality of the meal depends on the ingredients used to prepare it.
Buying Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
It is best to buy your fresh produce from local growers or farmers’ markets. Produce supplied by local growers is sold to consumers sooner than imported produce. This matters to the at-home cook because the shorter the time from field to table, the more nutritious, fresh, and tasty your produce will be when you eat it.
When possible buy produce that is natural and non-GMO. GMO is an abbreviation for genetically modified organisms. In this case, it means your product is the result of Frankenstein-like experiments to create something better than the original. The natural, non-GMO produce tastes better, has higher nutritional content, and is more easily digested by your body.
Focus on buying produce that is in season. When produce is sold during its growing season, there is likely to be a lot of it available. If there is a lot of it available, you will have a larger selection of products to choose from and it will be cheaper.
In the produce section, stay away from produce that is uniform in size and color, and comes from the same lot. Instead, choose produce that is imperfect. Buy the produce that looks like insects have been munching on it, and shows some signs of decay. Think of it this way, if a bug refuses to eat it, it’s not safe for you.
For the health-conscious home cooks, try to purchase produce with at least five different colors. Think of the product colors as representing different kinds of nutritional value. When you consume at least five different colors of fresh produce, you are more likely to meet all of your nutritional needs.
Avoid Produce with High Levels of Chemical Residue
As an at-home cook, you should be aware of the “Dirty Dozen”. The Dirty Dozen is a list of produce that tends to have high levels of pesticide and herbicide residue on it. Those chemicals are known carcinogens, so you should avoid ingesting produce covered with their residue as much as possible.
Flavoring Food with Fresh Herbs and Spices
It’s better to buy fresh herbs and spices. Fresh herbs and spices have more potent aromas, stronger flavors, more nutritional value, and more active ingredients than dried herbs.
When buying your fresh herbs and spices shop at natural or herbal shops. Customers at those shops can smell the herbs and spices before purchasing them. Note, the stronger the smell of the herbs and spices, the fresher they are and better they are for you.
Home cooks should triple the number of fresh herbs and spices used in a recipe based on dried herbs and spices. Dried herbs and spices are more potent than fresh ones. Also, fresh herbs and spices are added at the end of the meal preparation, whereas dried herbs and spices are added at the beginning of the dish preparation.
Washing Meat: Do you do it?
Absolutely! All meat should be washed before it used for cooking. If the meat is not cleaned properly, there is a good chance that there will be E. coli or salmonella on it. If the E.coli or salmonella are ingested, they can cause diarrhea, dehydration, and in extreme cases, kidney failure. Beef and red meat should be rinsed with water and allowed to drip dry before being used in food preparation.
To properly clean chicken takes several steps. First, rinse the chicken. Next, rub the chicken, inside and out, with salt. After you finish rubbing salt all over the chicken, soak the chicken in water that has lemon juice and peels from a half to a whole lemon. The chicken should soak for ten to fifteen minutes. When you have finished soaking the chicken, rinse it under running water, and let it drip dry in a colander. The chicken is salted and soaked in lemon juice and oils to kill any bacteria that may be on the surface of the chicken, or just below the surface of the chicken. They are the best natural disinfection agents for chicken.