Cooking at Home

There are lots of ways to prepare food. You can sauté, bake, stir-fry, roast, steam, grill, and the list goes on. But did you know the way you prepare food can also affect nutritional content? Below is a glossary describing methods of food preparation and techniques to make sure you are absorbing the most nutrients possible from your food! Click on the images below for healthy and easy recipes to cook for your family.

Food Preparation Glossary

The items that are highlighted in blue are cooking methods that preserve the most nutrients.

Al dente: To cook something so it is not too soft and little firm when bitten—not overcooked or undercooked; meaning “to the tooth” in Italian. This term is usually used when cooking pasta.

Baking: Surrounding food with hot, dry air in an oven; a dry-heat cooking method

Basting: A technique where one spoons or brushes food with pan drippings, sauce or other liquid to moisten the food during cooking and to prevent the food from drying out.

Blanching: Submerging food in boiling water for a short amount of time so it is only slightly cooked.

Boiling: Cooking food in a hot liquid that has continuously breaking bubbles on the surface.

Braising: Browning food first in hot fat, and then covering it with a small amount of liquid and cooking slowly over low heat on a stovetop or in an oven; recommended for less-tender cuts of meat.

Broiling: Cooking food under dry, direct heat (many home ovens are equipped with a broiler function); a dry-heat cooking method

Deep-frying: Coating food in batter or breading and then immersing it into very hot fat; a dry-heat cooking method

Fry: Cooking food in hot fat—sautéing, stir-frying, pan-frying, and deep-frying; a dry-heat cooking method

Grill: Heating food from a source, either electrical, gas, or charcoal, below the cooking surface; a dry-heat cooking method

Marinate: Tenderizing and making food more flavorful prior to cooking by allowing it to soak or be coated in a seasoned liquid.

Pan-fry: Cooking food in a shallow pan that is filled with hot fat; a dry-heat cooking method

Poach: Gently cooking food by submerging it into a simmering liquid (approximately 160° F-180° F)

Roast: Surrounding food with hot air in an oven—usually applies to meat, poultry, game, or vegetables/potatoes

Sauté: Cooking food in a very hot pan with a small amount of fat

Simmer: Cooking food in a heated liquid that is just below the boiling point (small bubbles may rise to the surface of the liquid, but it should be much calmer than boiling)

Steam: Exposing food directly to steam to cook it, usually by placing it in a basket or rack above a boiling liquid in a covered pan; This is the best cooking method to preserve nutrients in vegetables and can be easily done in the microwave! Click here to learn how.

Stew: Simmering food in a small amount of liquid for a long period of time.

Stir-fry: A cooking method that is similar to sautéing, but with the use of less fat. This technique should be done in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat and stirred constantly.