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Cooking Tips from Dr. Ryan

Healthy cooking is all about basic elements. Watch as board certified general and bariatric surgeon Dr. Heidi Ryan breaks down preparation of a healthy meal in her home.

Cooking with health in mind doesn’t need to be complicated. The following videos break down some tips for how to prepare a meal mindfully and in a way that makes simple food feel elevated. Planning ahead by laying out your ingredients and thinking out the order of what should be prepared first to last. This will set you up for success at the start in order to have your meal come together smoothly.

Understanding Fat in Our Food

For some, “fat” is a scary word, especially for those aiming to lose excess weight or maintain a healthy weight. Nutritionally, there are different kinds of fats. Focus on saturated versus monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats are found in animal products and coconuts. They are typically solid at room temperature and are known to be damaging for your heart health. Monounsaturated fats, like those in olive oil, are ideal for cooking. Polyunsaturated fats, found in Salmon as Omega 3 Fatty Acid, are known to have many benefits for our bodies from the heart to the brain. These “good fats” are what we want to prioritize when thinking about our daily consumption.

Where Do Your Ingredients Come From?

Considering how our food is treated and where it comes from has value for our health. You may choose to support local farmers and cooperatives by shopping at local markets or utilizing regional sources or focus on sustainable options with subscription services that rescue viable, but imperfect foods. Whether you are shopping in person or prefer to have ingredients delivered, you have many options that can consider and support important causes.

How Should You Incorporate Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates get a bad wrap from many diets, but they are an important part of a balanced diet, responsible for giving our bodies energy we need. When choosing carbs, foods that also contain protein and fiber is key. Fiber allows our bodies to more steadily access the energy contained in carbs and control the release of sugar into our blood stream. With some many grain options available, it can feel overwhelming. Ancient grains are simply grains that have been around longer and are therefore less genetically modified. They tend to be higher in fiber and protein than say white rice. Rice, while easily accessible and high in energy, tends to lead to greater increases in blood sugar.

Preparing Balanced Sides

With a chef’s knife and a pairing knife, you can accomplish most tasks in the kitchen. With citrus, you have options for amping up your presentation, if you have the time and want to put in a bit of extra effort. Try round wheels by slicing across the peeled, whole citrus segments or supreme them by slicing along the segments to remove the membrane (similar to a Mandarin orange). A lot of waste can be created when cooking at home, but most plant based ingredient waste can be reused for other purposes like nutrient rich compost for gardening or citrus peels are great for adding natural fragrance for home made cleaning solutions or to freshen your garbage disposal.

Cooking is essentially science, some dishes are based on physically changing ingredients and others on chemical changes that happen while cooking or manipulating ingredients. When prepping ingredients that will be cooked, making your cuts a uniform size helps to allow for even cooking as well as presentation.

Creating your own salad dressing, using an oil and acid to make an emulsified vinaigrette, allows you to cater to your own tastes and also control exactly what goes in. Maybe more importantly, you can control what stays out like added preservatives, excess sugar, and unwanted fat. An emulsion means the acid is suspended in the oil, but the two parts will naturally separate when left to sit. If you make your dressing ahead, whisk before serving to re-suspend the components.

How Do You Make Kale Taste Better?

Kale has gotten a lot of hype in the past few years, but many people find kale difficult to eat. Our expert tip is give kale a head start by massaging it. This helps to break down some of the tougher fibers of this hearty green, making the bite more pleasant.

The Main Course

As we have already discussed, Salmon is one of the richest sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. This power house food is flavorful and easy to prepare on the stove, in the oven, or on the grill. Generally fish will stick together raw and begin to flake easily apart when done.

When you are cooking any meat in a pan, taking the time to pat your meat or fish dry will help prevent splatters as the residual water meets the hot oil in the pan. Using a nonstick pan means you can use less oil, adding less unwanted fat to your dish. Using a spray oil allows you to create a thin layer of oil versus

If you’re using fresh herbs in the kitchen, you can use dry but use a bit less than with fresh as dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice adds flavorful, acidic moisture.

A Recipe for Dinner with Dr. Ryan

Citrus Salad with Pistachios, Red Lettuce, Olive Oil & Flakey Sea Salt

Remove peel and pith from citrus using a chef’s knife. Gently slice citrus into wheels by slicing across the segment lines of the whole fruit.

Wash lettuce leaves and carefully line your serving dish with lettuce leaves. Layer citrus wheels on top of lettuce and carefully drizzle with a small amount of nice olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt flakes over the salad.

Warm Grain Salad with Farro Couscous, Zucchini, Kale & Parsley

Prepare Farro Couscous according to package directions. While the grains cook, wash kale and zucchini. Massage your bunch of kale using a little bit of vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Slice the zucchini into coins of a uniform thickness. Run a knife through fresh parsley to break up the herb.

Create your own vinaigrette emulsion by whisking 1 portion acid (balsamic vinegar) and 3 portions fat (olive oil). Use other desired ingredients to add flavor.

Fluff finished couscous to de-clump the grains and mix with vinaigrette, zucchini, kale, and parsley.

Salmon with Dill, Lemon, Salt & Pepper

Heat a nonstick pan over medium. Spray lightly with a thin coating of oil. Pat fish dry and add herbs. Place flesh side down, skin side up in the pan and  allow to cook for about 3 minutes (time will vary based on the size and thickness of your fish). Flip fish and continue cooking for one to two minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice to add moisture and acid.

 

If you are post-op from bariatric surgery, it is important to adhere to the diet progression after surgery.

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