5 Smart and Healthy Cooking Hacks

27 June 2016

Cooking preparation is just as important as the ingredients you select for your meal. Sometimes, without even knowing we can completely destroy the nutritional benefits of our food by how we prepare the food. Many sauces and condiments that you may be typically be inclined to add to a meal for flavour can also be laden with hidden sugars and other nasties, which in turn can undo any benefit that the ingredients you are using may have. This is a snippet out of the Caralishious Nutrition and Lifestyle Guide (available to order via email: cara@caralishious.com), which I wanted to share with you today, as it covers the most important tips and tricks for smart, healthy and nutritious food preparation and cooking. I apply these tips daily and I hope they will help you too!


  • Remove all excess fat off animal proteins
  • Do not chop vegetables too finely when steaming as this decreases their surface area and makes them more vulnerable to over-cooking which leads to nutrient loss
  • Try to cut vegetables in even pieces to ensure that each piece cooks in more or less the same amount of time – this prevents burning and over-cooking

Boiling and Steaming

  • Steaming vegetables is always a great way to retain maximum nutritional value. I recommend steaming vegetables using a bamboo basket. Once cooked, adding a delicious dressing, such as tahini, lemon and olive oil, or melted coconut oil with natural seasoning is a great way to add flavour to steamed veggies.
  • Boiling vegetables causes all essential vitamins and minerals contained in the veggies to leach out. Rather steam, fry, bake or grill your veggies, unless you are making soup.
  • Avoid over-steaming vegetables as prolonged exposure to heat destroys their nutritional content. Healthily cooked vegetables are slightly crunchy and bright green in colour when you eat them.


  • When frying vegetables or vegan proteins, be sure to use coconut oil or macadamia nut oil. These oils have a far higher burning temperature that other oils and therefore do not change their chemical composition or become rancid under the high temperatures required for frying.
  • For frying I recommend using 1-2 tsp. of healthy fat for single serving meals and 1 tbsp. for 4-6 serving meals.
  • Remember that even though these fats are good for you, anything in excess becomes unhealthy, therefore don’t go overboard with your fats and oils servings.
  • If you are frying animal proteins such as beef, lamb or chicken, opt for less added fat (oil) as meat and chicken contains fat of its own already.
  • When adding fats or oils to dishes that you intend to bake or grill, use the same guidelines as detailed above.I recommend using 1-2 tsp. for single serving meals and 1 tbsp. for 4-6 serving meals.
  • When cooking naturally fatty proteins such as lamb, instead of adding fats or oils, allow the meat to cook in its own fat. The meat will still come out tender and juicy because there are large quantities of animal fat already contained in the protein.
  • Use 100% extra virgin olive oil spray and cook to grease baking dishes and baking trays.
  • Wax paper is a great way to avoid sticking instead of having to grease a baking tray.

Flavouring and Seasoning

  • Opt for Himalayan Pink crystal salt when it comes to adding salt while cooking. These salt crystals are sourced and supplied in their natural state.
  • Organic whole peppercorns are also better than ground pepper for cooking
  • I recommend using organic untreated spices which are usually available at local health stores. Most standard spices are radurised which affects the physical compounds of the spice and destroys its nutritional content.
  • For salad dressings, options such as olive oil, macadamia nut oil, melted coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar are best. Homemade yoghurt, pesto or tahini based dressings are a great choice if you feel like something a little creamier.
  • For creamier sauces, use coconut cream, coconut milk, tahini, mashed avocado, almond milk or rice milk instead of milk and cream.
  • Chia seeds and psyllium husk are great alternatives for thickening sauces or adding volume to dishes
  • Use cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt to replace cream/crème fraiche or sour cream in dips and sauces
  • Use stevia or xylitol instead of sugar when adding sweeteners to you dish

Yours in Health Always,




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