Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Home-cooking for a Better Health

related article: Food and Eating tips
 Crispy Goat Leg, with sauteed veggies and pita bread.  A change of carbs (bread vs. white rice) is a good once-in-a-while habit.

By now, we probably all know that the major factor that makes us unhealthy (or healthy) is the food that we eat...  In terms of quality (nutrients), volume, and yes timing (i.e. small portions distributed through-out the day is always better than big batches).

So in my own world of home-cooking, I've continually explored (and exploring still) and inject both health and environmental principles (or at least as much as applicable) into my cooking experiments. I obviously couldn't capture and document the majority, but once in a while - if in the mood, I would take a photo of my experiment (or a repeated, better version) to remember at least how it looked like; (taste is better stored in my memory).  :)

Oh, why into cooking and food?
One may not live his life fully, if he/she is ailing and sick in the bed most of the time. A true adventurer properly manages serious risks - and health problem is one of the major thing that one needs to avoid, at all cost!  Not only it costs money, it takes away precious time, and may influence your mood or capability to do more things.
So if you don't know how to cook - LEARN NOW!  No excuse.  Home-cooking is 'surer' and better than the most health-conscious restaurant out there (i.e. if you know what you're doing).

So going back to home-cooking - here below are some of these, with comments or tips.

Crispy Goat Leg
I stopped eating pork, pig being a scavenger animal which is genetically designed to ingest and tolerate toxins, which is passed on to the eater.  So missing my crispy pata, I tried this chevon or goat meat and result was better than expected.  Not that crispy (the skin has little fat compared to pork) but taste great.  
Goat cooking trick is to simply boil the meat with ginger, optional onion (to remove the weird smell/ taste).  Pepper or bay leaves may be added, but don't salt it yet.  I usually boil with vinegar to both preserve the meat (i.e. store in ref vs. freezer) and to tenderize it.  I buy from wet market where you can assess meat quality (not frozen), pre-cook it right away, and store in freezer in smaller, cooking portions.  When ready to cook, simply defrost (without water, optional step), and cook the way you want it.  
Chicken Paella (doesn't look like, but tastes like it anyway :)  Cooking this made me realize how expensive saffron is, better use it properly lest I waste a 50-100php/gram of golden powder.   Here, I've added veggies as usual to ensure a balanced meal.

Climate-friendlier cooking?
Two-in-one recipe is common for lazy or extremely busy people.   Living in a ‘rice country’,  we almost always cook 2 times at least – one for rice and at least 1 dish.  Rice cooked in a rice cooker is still cooking, albeit ‘automatic’ – but still consumes energy.
Two-in-one cooking like paella not only saves energy, but time.  Plus eating is easier as both carbs and dish are in one place, consequently reducing plates or bowls needed (and therefore the wash-water/ soap needed).   
I saw in one magazine promoting such dishes – baked chicken and potato,  pasta dishes, risotto-type of cooking, etc.  Traditionally, we have the likes of lugaw or goto, and pansit.  Just add more protein as needed (like eggs, meat, fish, beans, etc.)

"Hibi Express",  small dried shrimps cooked Bicol Express style.
Another climate-friendly cooking is to do it very fast.  Like 10 minutes or 15 max!
This Hibi express is cooked in less than 15mins as you only need to cook the raw veggies – in this case, baguio beans and green chilies.   My mistake?  I ate so much chilies and had to suffer ‘the morning after’.   Note that this is not ‘kosher’ as shrimps, being crustaceans are bottom-dwellers and also feed on dead things (i.e. scavengers).  Eat moderately.   
Most protein-rich food (ex. meat, beans) are ‘tough’ requiring longer cooking, so if you want a ‘fast protein’ switch to the likes of eggs or soft fish meat.
All in one pan - grilled matangbaka fish, potatoes and okra.  yumm!  no rice needed.
Speaking of fish – the best advice is to eat fish that are both scaled and finned.  Non-finned like catfish (including the so-called Cream Dory) are dirty fishes that feed on dead things.   Non-scaled are the likes of sharks, which also eat dead things (they are both the police and garbage collector of the oceans).    Did you ever wonder why cancer patients are extremely advised to only eat scaled fishes?
Organically or naturally grown tilapia, carp or bangus (milkfish) are good, but the farmed versions are typically fed with pellets rich in fish-protein-vitamins-antibiotics-whoknowswhatelse.  Recent study suggests that farmed tilapia fats are toxic.
Ah salmon!  A great source of unsaturated fats/ omega. The issue is mostly eco-balance (if not toxins from pellet food).  Like most farmed carnivore fishes, to produce 1 kilo of meat, it needs to consume 4-5kg of good fishes.   So eating 1 serving of salmon is actually consuming 4 to 5 servings of good meal.  A big waste of ocean reserve.  Pick wild catch instead.
Steamed herb chicken, no oil needed.  
Steaming is better than frying especially if you want to avoid fats.  While you may cook w/ good fats like olive or avocado oil – sometimes you want your liver to rest from digesting difficult food.
I experimented on two-in-one in my steaming as well, where I ‘flavored’ my ‘soup’ (the steam source) after cooking the meat/ veggies.  The caution – if one is cooking chicken with skin, the skin’s fat (saturated) will drip on your soup.  If you want to ‘save’ the soup, add olive oil (to balance the sat/unsat fats), or just remove the chicken skin before steaming. 
Chevon Mediterrani.  I just invented that name :)  Cooked with bell pepper and olives.  I usually add carrots; and potato if I intend to avoid rice.
I already mentioned chevon or adult goat meat in my past post.  To highlight, goat meat is one, if not the best grass-fed, protein rich, safe-and-healthy 4-legged animal out there.  It has less sat-fat than chicken, pork, lamb or beef, but has more protein per gram.  A bit more expensive than beef, but worth it. 

recycled 'Roast Beef' Sinigang.  
Sometimes you need to ‘recycle’ excess food (i.e. if you want a taste change or original dish is no longer appetizing).
Dry cooking like grill or roast (even fried) will offer an easy 2nd-cooking.   Just don’t “cook” as meat tends to change its ‘genetic signature’ when heated the 2nd time (i.e. it could be unhealthy).  Since it’s already cooked, just add the ‘recycled ingredient’ as the last step of your cooking.

ENJOY!   Cook healthy,  eat healthy!

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