Cooking is an art. But to some degree, it’s also a science that needs precision not just to maintain the balance of flavours but to preserve the health of the food. Meals can become unhealthy when prepared the wrong way. The ingredients used to determine how food affects your body and whether is retains any nutritional value. There are plenty of cooking mistakes to be aware of to remain healthy and food safe.
Cooking mistakes to avoid
1. Using too much salt and seasoning
Many people make the mistake of not adding enough salt or spices to their food or adding too much water. However, this has little nutritional damage. When you add too much salt and spices, such as soy sauce, this can lead to too much sodium. When you have excessive sodium in your system, it can lead to water retention.
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2. Overcooking honey
Some recipes call for using honey as a glaze. However, when honey is cooked it loses its medicinal properties. But more notably, cooking honey at over 40℃ can make it bitter and toxic.
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3. Overdoing vegetables
Cooking vegetables until they become too soft and soggy gets rid of their nutrients. Don’t boil vegetables for too long. Instead, you can stir fry them or blanch them. Ensure they retain some firmness and crispiness. This preserves nutrients and also flavour.
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4. Peeling vegetables
Many people dislike the taste and texture of cooked tomato skins. However, they are a great source of fibre, minerals and vitamins. In addition, you shouldn’t peel carrots either. To be safe, you should thoroughly rinse your vegetables to get rid of pesticides.
When you leave meat cooking for too long, it can become tough and chewy. It can also dry out. Undercooked meat increases the risk of nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhoea, fever or chills. It can also lead to parasitic infestation. To have meat cooked rare or medium-rare, it has to meet a minimum temperature. Ground beef needs to be cooked at 71℃, steaks need to be cooked until it reached 62℃, and chicken needs to be prepared until it reaches 73℃. When you cook red meat steaks, they need to rest for three minutes before serving.
Studies show that increased consumption of overcooked meat carries a higher risk of colorectal, pancreatic or prostate cancer. When meat is cooked over high temperatures such as pan frying or grilling, it releases heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which can cause DNA changes that can result in cancer. Another mistake to avoid when cooking meat is preheating it in a microwave to reduce the cooking time. You also need to constantly flip the meat. You should also remove the charred portions of meat.
Don’t eyeball your roasted meat to tell when it’s ready. Unless you’re making it well done, it’s better to invest in a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is fully cooked.
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6. Overfilling pans
Packing a pan full of meat such as pieces of chicken, sausages or meatballs increases the risk of eating uncooked meat. When panfrying meats, ensure the pieces aren’t in contact with each other and you keep flipping them. If you have to cook a lot of pieces, invest in a larger pan or cook in batches.
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