How to prepare, season and cook food correctly every day but above all for our “meal prep”…
How to prepare our dishes correctly
We all think that certain diseases that can be transmitted through food can be taken almost exclusively by eating outside the home (restaurants, hotels, pizzerias). Yet most of the health and hygiene risks arise precisely between the domestic walls in our kitchen.
Particular attention should be given to people who suffer from food sensitivities or allergies and celiac disease as contamination can also affect gluten and other allergens.
Here’s what explains and advises Luciano Atzori (biologist expert in food safety):
“Bacteria multiplication. Many raw materials (meat, vegetables, eggs) and untreated and packaged, are naturally more or less contaminated by microorganisms, some of which are harmless, others are pathogens for humans.
Greedy bacteria. Most bacteria have our same nutritional needs, so what is good food for us (ie meat and derivatives, fish, milk and derivatives) is also good for them: in fact, these foods contain all the elements necessary for the growth and reproduction of bacteria (sugars, proteins, fats, vitamins, mineral salts and water). Consequently on the “type of food” factor we can do very little because we cannot decide not to prepare (and therefore eat) certain dishes only because they are also appreciated by bacteria. But we can significantly intervene on the other two factors reducing as much as possible the times in which the ready food, especially if cooked, or any semi-finished products (ragù, broth), are at room temperature (ie at about 20 ° C).
Covering food is not enough. The less the food is at home temperature (usually between 16-24°C), the lower the bacterial proliferation and consequently its ability to cause disease. So when preparing our dishes, remember not to give bacteria the chance to grow and to increase in number. We must be more cunning of them by using all systems to prevent food from going for medium to long periods (ie above 15-20 minutes) at room temperature. Let us also remember that covering food left at home temperature with lids, plastic or aluminum films only serves to reduce contamination, but there is no effect on proliferation.
Cross-contamination. We must also pay attention to cross-contamination, that is the direct or indirect passage of pathogenic bacteria from contaminated foods (generally raw like meat, vegetables, eggs and fish) to other bacteria-free foods (usually almost all cooked foods) . Usually this type of bacterial contamination occurs when the hands are not clean or with tools dirty (cutting boards, knives, containers) cooked food is handled or when the same equipment is used to handle raw food first (then with microorganisms) and then cooked foods.
Cross-contamination is easy to prevent: just take small, but constant, hygienic-sanitary precautions such as always washing your hands before starting to cook and even when switching from one processing to another, especially if the first involves raw foods ( meat cutting, vegetable washing). In addition to this, it is always advisable to wash the utensils and equipment used for raw foods before reusing them for the cooked ones or replacing them with other clean ones. It would also be better to avoid dusters (excellent receptacle of bacteria), which should be replaced with disposable cellulose cloth-paper.”
How I season and cook the foods that I intend to preserve
♦ Using salt in moderation, I do not immediately add spices and herbs. I prefer to regulate the taste of foods when I regenerate them and finish the recipes. I characterize with spices and aromatic herbs later to better enhance the flavor of the dish just before tasting it and leave me the opportunity to choose how to complete it avoiding boring repetitions.
♦ I reduce the cooking time, I don’t want to find myself with overcooked foods. During regeneration the various preparations are heated and cooking is completed automatically.
♦ The Dott.ssa Valentina Chiozzi explains which cooking to prefer:
“Oven. To limit the loss of vitamins and minerals it is important to maintain a temperature below 180 ° C, above 180 ° C we not only get aroma and crunchiness, but also the reduction of digestibility and release of carcinogenic compounds. So let’s use the oven peacefully, but be careful not to scorch the food!
To contain fats, which can be altered during cooking and become trans fat or develop harmful compounds due to high temperatures, it is useful to use baking paper. Choose it of good quality, maybe not bleached to avoid possible chemical residues.
Cooking pan. It is suitable for quick cooking on a high flame to preserve the taste and nutritional properties. It requires constant attention to avoid scorching the food. It is always advisable to choose good pans in order to avoid over-fat. Today there are non-stick ones that allow you to remove the cooking oil.
Baking foil. It is a cooking that uses dry heat, but that produces a cooking similar to that of steam because the foods are closed in a special foil (better with good quality baking paper than aluminum) with the addition of aromatic herbs or spices and oil raw at the end of cooking. Perfect for enhancing raw materials while preserving healthy properties.
Boiling. It is a versatile technique that allows you to cook everything: soups, fresh and dried legumes, eggs, fish, cereals, pasta and even chestnuts. The use of boiling water, however, causes a reduction of almost 75% in vitamin C and folic acid and an alteration of colors, textures and taste. Most of the minerals are dispersed in the water, so when we drain the cooked foods using this method we reuse the cooking water (for soups, béchamel or sauces) we can recover part of the minerals. The secret to an ad hoc boiling varies depending on the food: for vegetable soups it is important to dip the vegetables in boiling water, cover with a lid and cook over low heat; for the poached egg serves acidulous boiling water; for dried, soaked and washed legumes, we start with cold water, while the fresh ones are placed in boiling salted water, like pasta.
When possible it is better to prefer the blanching or parboiling, which consists of dipping the vegetable in boiling water for 1-2 minutes and finishing the stewing over low heat. This method causes less boiling losses.
Steaming. It is certainly one of the best cooking methods; versatile, it respects colors, flavors and nutrients. Nutritional losses are limited compared to boiling. The foods are light tasty and the seasonings can be added raw. Some steamer models have multiple floors and allow you to cook more foods at the same time. This also saves time.
Pressure cooker. Take advantage of the moist heat. Since the pot is hermetically sealed, evaporation is limited and this allows us to concentrate the aromas and flavors. Generally the internal temperature is around 118°C, a little too high for some vitamins, but perfect for legumes and cereals that are more stable to heat. The high temperature makes it possible to degrade some antinutrients present in legumes, making them even more digestible.
For absorption cooking. This method is used to cook whole grains because it prevents the dispersion of nutrients in the water (which happens with boiling). It is ideal for preparing cereals that are thus shelled, tasty and consistent.
Stewing. This technique is interesting and absolutely to be re-evaluated because it occurs slowly and at a low temperature, which greatly reduces nutrient losses such as vitamin C, which is present in many vegetables, but is easily degradable. Generally with this technique, hot liquid (water, broth, wine) is added a little at a time during the preparation.
With this technique it is possible to cook almost all the vegetables and you can also make the sautéed dough: the onion is stewed over low heat with the addition of water to lower the temperature of the oil. It will also be more digestible.
Grilling. This type of cooking is not the healthiest so it should be done with some tricks and not too often. The fat of meat and fish that runs on the embers, produces carcinogenic vapors that can be absorbed by food. The same applies to the burnt black lines on food, it is important to remember that cooking on the slow grill at the right distance allows cooking in a simple and natural way. It is also useful to combine abundant salads with raw vegetables or pinzimoni enriched with lemon or emulsions with added spices like turmeric and ginger and aromatic herbs, which add a little antioxidants. For grill lovers, there are vertical grills and barbecues that do not cause toxic fumes to rise. Also in this case, pay attention to the charred parts, better to avoid them.
And the fried? We must do it in a workmanlike manner to limit the negative effects and never recycle the oil! I also accompany it with raw vegetables of various colors and aromatic herbs, so as to also take some protective substance and enjoy the rule.”
If you want to read or re-read previous posts and recipes on my “meal prep”:
MEAL PREP 1: What our body needs ◊ Which foods should always compose our dishes ◊ Refrigerator and freezer are up when you have little time?
MEAL PREP 2: Organization of the weekly menu◊ APP ◊ What do I cook?
MEAL PREP 4 How to cool and prepare my recipes for conservation “meal prep”
MEAL PREP RECIPES