Nutrient Dense Kitchen 101

All too often when we need help with our nutrition we realize the costs involved may add up quickly. You may be paying for nutrition counseling support, buying more food at the market than you’ve ever bought before, cooking more at home, and then you’ll realize you’ll need some quality equipment to help make your food. There are quite a lot of factors that go into making a nutrient dense lifestyle just that: a lifestyle.

Step 1: Source Quality, Local, Sustainable Food


I was fortunate to grow up in a farming area where people naturally shared their crops and livestock with the community. It was a common occurrence for community members to call and let others know they had a surplus of crops or were taking their livestock to butcher and asked if you wanted in on any portions. When I moved to the “big city” for college, I missed that aspect of home life– the availably of knowing people to get what I needed for my food.

When we source foods locally, or even know the farmer, we are providing for ourselves foods that are seasonal and help the smaller more likely to be organic farmers in our communities. They are likely cheaper when they are in season, too. Sustainable foods means we can help give back to the farmer, too, to continue providing high quality foods to the community.

Many suburban or even urban areas host farmer’s markets that allow farmers from within 50-100 miles to come in and sell their produce and meats. You can get to know the farmer that way and look forward to meeting a friendly face every week during farmer’s market season.

Visit a Farmer’s Market

Many suburban or even urban areas host farmer’s markets that allow farmers from within 50-100 miles to come in and sell their produce and meats. You can get to know the farmer that way and look forward to meeting a friendly face every week during farmer’s market season.

Knowing your farmer and buying directly from him isn’t always accessible. Buying everything organic isn’t ideal necessarily for everyone or every budget. Begin buying Organic foods on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. Your local grocery store will run sales on in season foods. Shop by the sale ads. If you cannot have a relationship with farmers, have a relationship with your store’s manager who sources the foods.

Step 2: Properly Prepare Foods for Optimal Nutrient Density

Paying attention to your food quality is the first step, but we need to make sure we actually prepare the foods properly for optimal nutrient density.

Baking and Roasting

  • Roasting is an excellent option for most vegetables and meats.
  • Helpful for cooking larger quantities of food at the same time
  • Foods best baked or roasted: Meat, root veggies, sourdough breads and other flour or grain goods.

Braising and Stewing

  • Braise: sautéing aromatic veggies like onions, garlic, in a fat and then brown meat in the aromatics. Add liquid, bring to a boil, and then bring temp down and simmer until meat is fork tender
  • Stew: Same as above but add more liquid to the dish to cover the food
  • Benefits: Preserves the cooking liquid with the food, ensuring soluble nutrients can be ingested. Excellent option for cooking tough meats that are usually more affordable.

Frying

  • Deep-Frying is a submerging of all the food in the fat whereas shallow frying is just enough fat in the pan to cover the bottom of the pan while the meat cooks.
  • Benefits: Frying in the appropriate types of fat, at the appropriate temperatures, is one of the quickest methods of cooking, and it allows food to retain many heat-sensitive nutrients

Steaming

  • Bring a few inches of water to boil in a saucepan. Place a steamer basket in the pan, and place food in the basket. Then cover the bas\ket with a lid and allow the steam to cook the vegetables until crisp-tender or fish and meat until cooked through.
  • Benefits: Quick way to prep veggies. When done properly the veggies retain most of their nutrients, become easily digestible, and still have a bright color and enticing texture.

Some other methods of properly preparing your food include sautéing and stir-frying, pressure cooking, boiling and simmering, slow cooking, grilling, and microwaving.

Step 3: Tune-up your Kitchen

Ideally we’d like to have the most non-toxic cookware and storage ware in our kitchens. The problem can be the expenses. You may want to just overhaul everything and start from scratch but that isn’t really feasible. We don’t need to purport the all or nothing mentality anywhere in our nutritional lives. You can slowly begin phasing in and phasing out toxic products in your kitchen. Below I’ll share with you some options to help you make the best investment for you.

NO TEFLON

First and foremost I want to make sure you stay away from Teflon. Teflon is now in our bodies due to the overuse and overexposure. It actually leeches onto our foods and we eat it. We literally are what we eat.

Sources:
NTA. 2020. Adjusting Micronutrients Video.
NTA. 2020. Culinary Wellness Week 1 Student Guide.

photo credit: wuestenigel Fruits good for cardiovascular health via photopin (license)

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hey, i’m Danielle

I love Jesus. I love my family. And I get joy from having a front row view of people growing toward their goals because of what I’ve taught.

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