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How cooking impacts the nutritional value of various foods



Fillet of Salmon.


Cooking food helps your body digest and absorb nutrients. However, it can also reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals in various ingredients, and the way you cook your meals significantly impacts their nutritional value. Here’s what you should know about cooking various foods.

When it comes to cooking vegetables, the B vitamins and vitamin C are the most vulnerable. Since these vitamins are water-soluble, vegetables should be cooked in as little water as possible to maximize the preservation of nutrients. Steaming, microwaving and roasting are all effective ways to do this.

Additionally, the oil used when grilling and stir-frying helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Meat is a major source of several B vitamins, but these heat-sensitive nutrients seep out when meat is cooked for a long time or at a high temperature. To benefit from these vitamins, consume the meat’s cooked juices as well.

Cooking meat at a high temperature also leads to the formation of harmful compounds, so simmering and stewing are preferable to grilling and stir-frying.

Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are an important source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. However, omega-3 fatty acids are easily damaged when exposed to the high temperatures required to fry, grill and broil fish.

The most effective way to preserve these nutrients is to use low-temperature cooking methods such as poaching and steaming. Baking also minimizes the loss of vitamin D in fish.

Overall, the best way to preserve the nutrients in cooked food is to limit the use of water, reduce the cooking time and keep the temperature as low as possible.

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The big three for the grill



Man’s love affair with grilling goes all the way back to the invention of fire and to that first prehistoric cook who accidentally dropped a raw piece of meat onto the glowing coals.
Since then, techniques for grilling have been honed and improved. Great varieties of grills can be found. They range in price from a small tabletop grill that uses charcoal to big propane-powered grills in stainless steel cabinets.
Below are three short recipes for a surefire backyard cookout.
Balsamic-glazed sirloin
Start with four half-pound strips of lean sirloin steak.
5 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 stick melted butter
Add salt and pepper to taste
Score steaks diagonally and brush both sides with butter. Dust with salt and pepper. Mix the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a dish and brush the steaks with the mixture as they cook.
Spicy baked beans
Add these ingredients to two 15-oz. cans of pork and beans.
6 pieces bacon in small pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
12 dashes of Louisiana hot sauce
Mix in a grill-proof pan, and set on a medium-heat area of the grill before grilling the meat. Stir occasionally until the mixture bubbles.
Perfect grill corn
6 ears of corn on the cob
1/2 stick, melted butter
Salt to taste
Carefully peel the husks back on the ears of corn and remove corn silk. Brush the corn with the melted butter and add dashes of salt. Put the husks back in place and soak the corn in water for a few minutes. Place the corn in its husks on the grill in a position for medium heat. Turn frequently until charred spots start to appear on the husks. Cooking should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Check for tenderness.
Add your favorite summertime drink and a wedge of watermelon for a great backyard picnic.
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How to choose a barbecue



Do you dream of cooking meals on the grill in your backyard or balcony but don’t yet have a barbecue? Here are some tips for choosing the right one.

Propane barbecues are versatile, easy to use, and quick to heat up. Charcoal or wood-burning barbecues impart delicious flavor but are more difficult to light and take longer to reach an optimal temperature. On the other hand, electric barbecues offer even heat distribution, except at low temperatures.

Certain materials, like stainless steel, will ensure your barbecue has a long service life. If the appliance’s firebox is made of enameled cast iron, it should be at least an eighth of an inch thick. Remember that metal- or porcelain-coated steel grates are generally more difficult to clean.

Cooking surface
The size of the barbecue and the number of burners you need largely depends on what you’ll be grilling and how much of it. The larger the barbecue, the more energy it needs to reach the desired heat. If you often cook fish or white meat, it’s a good idea to look for a model with at least two independent burners. This gives you the option of not cooking directly over the flame.

Some models come with additional accessories, such as a side burner (similar to a cooker), a sear burner (perfect for blue steaks), and a rotisserie for cooking on a spit.

The many criteria you consider when looking for the perfect barbecue are chiefly about how you plan to use the grill. Other elements to consider include your budget, the number of wheels, the ignition system, and whether it has a built-in thermometer. Happy shopping!

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Tangy pasta salad perks up the weekend



This flavorful pasta salad makes an excellent addition to any Memorial Day get-together.

Adjust the vegetables to suit your preferences — try just-cooked chopped asparagus, chopped arugula leaves, fresh basil, or fresh peas to mix it up. For extra vinegary flavor, try doing a quick pickle on the sweet peppers ahead of time.

1 pound short pasta (such as fusilli or farfalle)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 large garlic clove, grated
Ground black pepper to taste
1 cup sweet peppers, chopped
1 large or 2 small broccoli crowns, chopped into small pieces
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water generously and add pasta. Cook until al dente, then drain well and transfer to a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the mayonnaise, vinegar, and garlic, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the salad, then let cool for at least 30 minutes.

While the pasta is cooling, add butter or olive oil to a frying pan and heat to medium-hot. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drop into the hot pan and cook until the shrimp turns opaque and firm about four to five minutes. Set aside to cool. Stir cooled shrimp into cooled pasta salad, then add veggies. Garnish with parsley or green onion before serving.

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3 Easter menu ideas



Having guests in for Easter and not sure what to serve? Here are three enticing ideas.

1. Sugar shack feast. Enjoy a French-Canadian tradition with ham, hashbrowns, sausages, baked beans, omelets, pancakes, and fried pork rinds called oreilles de crisse, all generously drizzled with maple syrup.

2. Traditional Easter dinner. Delight everyone’s tastebuds with a leg or rack of lamb served with a fresh salad like arugula with berries and a vegetable dish like scalloped potatoes or cauliflower au gratin.

3. Vegetarian brunch. Open-faced sandwiches with avocado and egg, a leek quiche, puff pastry with spinach or mushrooms, pan-fried vegetables, spring salad, pasta, and chickpea soup — with various veggie options, you’re sure to keep everyone delighted.

Visit your local shops to find the ingredients you’ll need. And don’t forget the ideal beverage pairings to accompany your dishes!

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Want to eat fresh? Buy from the farmer



Buying meat directly from a farmer has been around as long as farming, but these days, the grocery store is about as close as most people get to the farm.

For omnivores who want to keep their dollars local and don’t mind the upfront investment, buying a share of a cow or pig might be a great and surprisingly accessible option, with potential savings and the convenience of always having protein on hand.

1. Think about what you want and how much. If you’re interested in beef, consider that a whole cow could provide 400-600 pounds of meat, a half cow between 200 and 300, and a quarter cow between 100 and 150. A whole 250-pound hog yields about 120-140 pounds of meat, while a half will provide 60-70.

2. Assess your freezer capacity. You’ll need an additional freezer, especially if you purchase your share on your own and intend to keep all of the meat. For reference, a whole butchered hog might fill between half and two-thirds of a 10-cubic-foot chest freezer.

3. Ask friends or family if they’d like to split the purchase.

4. Set a budget, and keep in mind that you’re purchasing meat for up to a year all at once. Buying pork or beef directly from a farmer isn’t automatically cheaper than going to the grocery store — a lot of factors influence the price. Look online for local farmers who sell shares or ask around at farmer’s markets. If you want to purchase from a 4-H kid at the county fair, plan to spend more, but that extra money helps that kid participate the following year.

5. Find a pork or beef (or lamb or veal) producer who can give you what you want at the price you can afford. Remember that specialty options, like custom butchering or delivery, might add to the price.

6. Once your meat is stowed in your freezer, enjoy! Many people find that the taste alone is worth the extra work — and sometimes the extra cash — over meat from the grocery store or even a butcher.

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4 sustainable foods you should be eating



Do you want to eat healthily and do your best for the planet? Here are four sustainable foods you should be eating.

1. Pulses like beans, lentils, and peas are a great source of protein and iron and don’t require much water to grow. They also fortify the soil with nitrogen, making it easier to grow other crops.

2. Molluscs such as oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops are nutrient-dense and remove pollutants such as carbon from seawater.

3. Local and organically grown fruits and vegetables help promote healthy soil and keep harmful pesticides from water sources. Moreover, you aren’t supporting carbon-intensive supply chains when you buy local, in-season fruits and vegetables.

4. Seaweed is highly nutritious and has a low environmental impact. Without fertilizers, it gets everything it needs to grow from the water around it. Seaweed also filters excess nutrients from seawater, such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

Try including some of these foods in your weekly meal plan.


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