Diet Myth #5: Baking and Steaming are the Only 'Healthy' Cooking Methods

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As part of our research for "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," we conducted a "Ditch the Diet Taste Test." We asked successful SparkPeople members, yo-yo dieters and others to answer questions about weight loss, healthy eating, and dieting--and to pit Chef Meg's healthy, delicious recipes against traditional, bland "diet food."

You can read all about the Taste Test in Chapter 2 of "The SparkPeople Cookbook," but this week we're sharing five of the diet myths we debunked as part of that project. Did you miss the rest of the series? Read the rest here.

Learning to cook is like learning to dance. Once you know the basics, you’ll be able to walk onto the dance floor and know immediately whether you should waltz, tango, or jitterbug to a particular piece of music. Try to tap dance at a wedding reception or waltz to a bluegrass band. It doesn’t feel right, does it? The same goes for cooking. Learn the classic methods, and you’ll be able to walk into any farmers’ market or grocery store, pick up any ingredient, and cook it with pretty good results. There are reasons you don’t steam pot roast or sauté muffins. Below are the techniques I use most often to create healthy and delicious foods. Learn these techniques, and you’ll be whipping up meals you love to eat—with and without a cookbook—in no time!

Diet Myth #5: Baking and steaming are the only cooking methods you need to know.

No way! Today we're outlining one healthy cooking method, but we have several more to share with you in "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." Grilling, broiling, sweating, sautéing, and, yes, baking and steaming--we cover them all.

Basically, methods of cooking are broken down into two categories: those using dry or moist heat. Dry heat methods promote browning of foods. Browning occurs as water in the foods evaporates. This is particularly evident in sautéing and roasting as the natural sugars in the food caramelize. With moist heat, the foods are cooked in or over liquids, which will prevent browning. Moist heat methods seal in food’s natural flavors and nutritional benefits. Both have a place in the new healthy kitchen and will yield satisfying, nutritious results.

Roasting (dry heat):

When we roast, we surround foods with hot air. Roasting does not require fat for cooking, though a small amount is sometimes added for flavor and moistness. At home, I prefer to roast meats and vegetables using herbs and citrus with minimal oil to add flavor. Roasting brings out the natural sugars in vegetables, and it creates a lovely, satisfying brown exterior on meats. This is one of my favorite cooking techniques for bringing out full flavor with little to no added calories or fat.

The temperature for roasting can range from 325 degrees to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. The rule is, the larger the pieces of food, the lower the temperature to avoid undercooked interiors and burned outsides. Roasting vegetables, proteins, or starches at a high heat like this is a great way to “faux fry” your food. I use this method for everything from potatoes to chicken tenders.

Sometimes members write to us asking how they can learn to like vegetables. I tell them to try roasting everything from radishes to broccoli. Start today with the Roasted Beet and Apple Salad (page 116), which yields tender and sweet beets that pair well with tangy Granny Smith apples. And next Thanksgiving, instead of spending all that time running back and forth to the oven to baste the turkey, make the self-basting Herb Roasted Turkey (page 198) and spend more time catching up with family and watching the game

Learn more about this diet myth in "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." Click here to get five sneak-peek recipes, too.

Do you buy into this diet myth? Why or why not? Which cooking methods do you prefer?

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RACHAEL2020 11/13/2020
Thanks. Report
WILDKAT781 8/16/2020
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Keeping breaking those myths. Some healthy oils out there Report
GEORGE815 7/10/2020
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FISHGUT3 4/12/2020
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I wish I'd like to cook! Report
I like to try new recipes as well. Report
thanks Report
learned a few things Report
Great article! Report
Besides steaming and baking, other healthy cooking methods include grilling, crockpot slow cooking, boiling, poaching, and microwaving, which involve very little or no added fat/oil. Surprisingly, deep frying is healthier than shallow frying or even sweating or sauteing, because the high cooking temperature of deep frying means that less oil gets absorbed when compared to shallow frying, sweating, or sauteing. If you prefer to roast in the oven, then I would recommend using nonstick baking sheets with foil and/or parchment paper and nonstick cooking sprays instead of adding fat or oil. Report
MEAGANW1977, all you need is an oven. Report
How do you roast? Is there a special appliance that is needed? Report
Grew up on mostly boiled veggies which were sometimes reheated with milk (yechk), but always loved them anyway. But now I eat them raw, roasted, steamed, sautéed, etc. - any way BUT boiled. Especially love roasting them and will try some radishes next - thanks! The beet and apple roast sounds yummy too! Report
Love my electric skillet. Report
I love my George Foreman Grill. Report
Stir frying is my best friend! Report
Now I poach my morning egg and have it on a piece of ww toast with some salsa. Stirfry in a nonstick wok using black bean and garlic sauce is my favorite way to make dinner. Report
I roast all my soups,holds favors so well. Never tried roasting veggies, but plan too. Grilling is one of my favorites too! Report
i starting roasting vegetables about 6 months ago and love it. then i came across a recipe for baked ratatouille (sic) which is amzaing. i will even puree it sometimes to use for a pasta sauce. it is one of my favorite things to eat. you can eat it hot/cold. by its self. tossed with pasta or brown/and or wild rice. i have added chicken to it for a main course. Report
I like to try new recipes, and on my healthy lifestyle I try to avoid frying. And I NEVER deep fry! For many meats I prefer roasting, but for steak, grilling. I am crazy about veggies and like them stir-fry, roasted, fresh, any way and every way! Report
I love roasting vegetables, too. Although I have to admit, I've never tried roasted radishes! Report
I love roasted vegetables! We also grill them on skewers! I haven't tried hiding veggies in soups and stews for the families as suggested. Somehow they ask - have to be honest. I'm pretty lucky that my girls will try new things. My husband is another matter! Report
I love roasted vegetables! So much tastier than steamed. And I agree with SBNORMAL about the crockpot, especially for meats. No added fat, but they don't get dried out the way they can in the oven. Thanks so much SparkPeople for showing us that healthy food doesn't have to be dry and bland. Report
I love to grill and sauté. I just tried roasting and I love it. I highly recommend it to everyone. Oh, I do not like steam vegetable. Report
I love baking, steaming, roasting. Yum! Report
Love the recipes just got this cook book last week. Report
I think I tend to bake (or roast) everything...particularly because it's easier for me. (Yes, I'm a lazy cook!) I like being able to season something like chicken or fish, put it in the oven and then go do something else.

I've only tried roasting broccoli and asparagus...Maybe I'll get the cookbook and branch out. Report
Grilling is the favorite at our house. Wether it's 100 degrees or 20 degrees outside! Report
I know about the other methods, but I usually bake and use my Crockpot. Report
I keep buying veggies to roast, but they rot before I can spend all that time dicing them, sigh. I have a new set of veggies losing it on my counter right now. Report
Roasting has become a favorite at my house, too! Report
Roasting may be my favorite way to cook vegetables these days. Yum! Report
I love grilling, too. It is especially good for salmon and other fish dishes. Report
I love to try new recipes, I just bought this cook, can't wait to try some new ones out! Report