Your guide to healthy living ...

Preparing Food

Cooking Methods
One challenge health-minded people have dealt with in preparing foods is striking the perfect balance between cooking out harmful bacteria while preserving the nutritional content. Raw foods provide the highest level of nutritional value, but we expose ourselves to bacteria and viruses that can be fatal. Of course, there’s less to worry about eating raw fruits and vegetables. Cooking becomes more of a concern with meat products. On the other end of the spectrum, intense forms of cooking or treatment greatly diminish the nutritional value. Over-cooked or charred food becomes carcinogenic. But the benefit is greater assurance that any bacteria has been killed. For information on food preparation and storage, visit the USDA's Food Preparation Fact Sheets.

Using the lowest temperature necessary to cook food thoroughly is a good rule of thumb. Similarly, cooking at lower temperatures for a longer period of time is healthier than using high heat for a short time. Raw or steamed are good ways to prepare vegetables to get the most nutritional value. When grilling meat, a medium cook with no charred areas on the outside is ideal. Baking temperatures over 400 degrees should be avoided. Use the right cooking oils for the job. Refined oils should be used when cooking over 325 degrees to prevent oxidation of fatty acids. While ultra-pasteurization increases shelf life, it creates unhealthy substances in the beverages. Regular pasteurization is preferred.

  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • Steamed fruits and vegetables
  • Grilled meats - medium cook

  • Anything deep-fried
  • Microwave cooking
  • Grilling - well done
  • Ultra-pasteurized beverages
  • Baking over 400 degrees
  • Rotisserie (remove skin for healthier preparation)

This section applies to cookware including pots, pans, and baking dishes. Stainless steel is the best choice overall. Glass is probably the purest container available, but not all glass cookware is as durable for cooking. Ceramic can leach lead, especially if the paint is worn. If you must have a non-stick pan, go with hard-anodized or anything free of PFOA or PTFE coatings. Teflon releases the most toxins into food and should be avoided.

For lining baking dishes, aluminum foil is not a good option. The manufacturing process for aluminum foil requires toxic chemicals that eventually transfer into the food. Parchment paper makes an excellent liner. However, it will singe if subjected to high temperatures (somewhere over 400 degrees).

  • Stainless steel
  • PFOA-free and PTFE-free
  • Hard-anodized
  • Parchment paper
  • Teflon
  • Aluminum foil