Healthy Thursday: Cooking Simple, Healthy Fresh

veggie vendor

Ever wonder how I create the recipes for my Simple Healthy Fresh Cookbooks?  Want to start cooking healthier?  There are some simple rules that recipes must follow to be included in the Simple Healthy Fresh cookbooks.  Here they are:

1.  They must be Simple recipes, that can include multiple steps, that anyone with a rudimentary understanding of food and cooking can follow.  Just basic preparation of ingredients-chop, slice, shred, press, pound and so on. Easy to understand instructions: saute, fry, bake, broil, steam-you get the picture. Readily available ingredients-foods that can be found in any market anywhere. Plus, they have to adhere to diabetic, heart and other health-food restrictions.  I’ll discuss that in another section.

2. The recipes must be Healthy. What do I mean by healthy? In a nutshell and simplifying things, diabetics are allowed 40 carbs per meal.  Cut out the high carb-high starch foods. Corn-potatoes-peas-summer squash are the biggest threats for diabetics. The most common ingredients you will find are the so-called ‘holy trinity’: carrot-celery-onion and sometimes bell peppers.  Why? These are lower carb, most readily available vegetables that diabetics, heart disease patients and other health issues that people have, are allowed to have. Boring? They don’t have to be. My family is big on garlic–we’re garlic eaters! I put a ton of garlic cloves in almost every dish. Garlic adds dept of flavor. I discuss spices and their use in the forwards to both ebook cookbooks (the forwards are free to read, just download the samples).  I use other low-carb, low-fat, low-starch, low-salt vegetables to ‘stir’ up the interest, such as fennel bulbs, asparagus, kale, greens, etc.

Heart disease/blood pressure patients must adhere to a low-fat diet, so we’re cutting out high fat meats, cheeses and limiting high fat vegetables, oils, etc. Cutting out the ‘white foods’ as well–if it’s white, it’s bad for you.  I mean, white flour, white sugar, white rice and so forth.  These are deadly to those whom have diabetes and heart issues. Be mindful of other health issues people may have, such as myself with kidney failure and kidney transplant-I have to have a low-protein diet as well as low-carb, low-fat and low-salt.

A great big no-no to keep in mind to follow the Simple Healthy Fresh cooking, is NO ADDED SALT!  I realize that salt is addictive and difficult to give up, but I have been salt-free for 25 years and no longer miss it.  Salt is deadly for diabetics, heart disease patients, those in organ failure. Plus added salt has so many health issues for the average person. A doctor once told me that natural foods have enough naturally occurring salt to more than meet daily nutritional requirements.  That is why I created my line of Flavored Peppers (see the page on this site). I also advocate using citrus zest, garlic, spices to add appeal and flavor to dishes.

3. Fresh is the key for cooking Simple Healthy Fresh. What is fresh? Vegetables should be firm and smell like the earth, vegetable-like, look glossy but not waxed with clear skin and no bruising. The tagline for the series is ‘nothing processed, pre-made, boxed, bagged or canned.”  Meaning, the further the food is from natural, the less likely you should eat it. Cut back foods that come from fast food, although it is possible to eat healthy, as discussed in my article of the same name, make eating out rare. Eat canned, prepared food as few times as possible, such as canned ravioli, spaghetti, beef stew and so on.  These have the unhealthiest ingredients, preservatives, salt that do the most damage to your body.

Canned vegetables can be ok, like tomatoes–sometimes more  economical than fresh. Other vegetables are too processed when canned, having higher salt and preservative contents, like all types of beans, asparagus, spinach.  Frozen vegetables are a much smarter choice, as long as you stay away from ‘meal in a bag’ vegetables.  Look for fresh frozen or flash frozen whole vegetables.  Mixed low-carb vegetables are ok as well, as long as they don’t include corn-peas-potatoes-squash and other high-carb vegetables.

Lean meats, fish and meat substitutes are what you are looking for. I use a lot of chicken-mostly thighs, drumsticks, because they are cheapest to buy, more flavorful and more readily available to those on a budget. I chose not to eat a lot of fish, due to pollution, mercury, radiation, oil in our world’s oceans and lakes. Since I, like so many people, have so many health issues, I’m not willing to add to them. I also buy pork when it is on sale and look for sales on other meats, like lamb, buffalo, whatever is out there.

Final thought: So that is how to cook Simple Healthy Fresh and the rules I follow to include new recipes in the next cookbook. Is it difficult?  Yes, but the healthy cooking is definitely worth it. As I say, your body will thank you. I’ve been following these rules for over 13 years now, this is 13 years worth of research that I’m sharing with you. Now you know the basic rules, show me those Simple Healthy Fresh recipes over on the facebook page!