Healthy Cooking Part 1 with Kari Collett of A to Zinc Nutrition – radio Interview WJON

Part 1 on Healthy Cooking with Kari Collett of A to Zinc Nutrition
Health Matters with Jay Caldwell of 1240AM WJON St. Cloud

Kari walks you though how easy it can be to eat just a little bit healthier and have strong results.


Jay: AM 1240 and 95.3 FM, WJON. This is another edition of “Health Matters” brought to you by Rejuv Medical. And my guest today from A to Zinc Nutrition, registered dietician, Kari Collett. Kari, good to talk to you again.


Kari: Yeah. Thanks, Jay, for having me. I appreciate it.


Jay: So, today we are talking about healthy ways to cook at home. And yeah, there’s a lot of different cooking methods and we’re spending more time at home anyway, so we should know these things, right?


Kari: Right. Exactly. I mean, now is the perfect opportunity to do more cooking, so you might as well know the best ways to do it.


Jay: So, what’s the main goal when healthy cooking? What are some of the methods you suggest?


Kari: Yeah, there’s a variety of methods, but with any method… We really have three main goals, and the first goal is probably fairly well-known, and that’s just to reduce saturated fat content. We do need some saturated fat, but we have so much of it that we definitely should take out when we can. And along the same lines, probably reducing, you know, oxidized oils and things like that. The other two goals are just to retain nutrients. We don’t want to cook everything out of our food and we really want good flavor, because if our food doesn’t taste good, we’re not as likely to eat it. So, I would say those are our three main goals with healthy cooking.


Jay: Yeah. I mean, the last one you’re talking about flavor, I mean, you’re right. I mean, as much as you want to try to make it healthy, if it doesn’t taste good, you’re probably not going to gravitate toward it.


Kari: Exactly. Yeah.

Jay: So, let’s talk about some of the methods, baking and roasting.

Kari: Yeah. So, I love baking and roasting. It’s probably a lot less popular in the summer than it is in the fall and winter just because, you know, it heats up your house, but I love especially roasted vegetables and mixing them all together. You use a light amount of oil and a variety of seasonings, and there’s just something about that dry heat that can kind of almost caramelize your vegetables in a sense that gives them a richer flavor. So, it’s just that… Then we’re not leaching, you know, vitamins and minerals out of our vegetables with water or anything like that, so it’s a dryer method with a little bit of oil and it just really…it’s one of my favorites. I love roasted vegetables, and, you know, everybody likes roasted chicken, turkey, things like that. I mean, obviously, that’s what we do at Thanksgiving, is the roasted turkey. So, it’s pretty well-known that you can do that with poultry, less well-known that you can do it with vegetables.


Jay: So, when you do it with vegetables, do you do it for the same amount of time? How can you tell how long you should cook them?


Kari: Well, good question because every vegetable is a little bit different. So, for example, things that are really hard, like sweet potatoes, beets, potatoes, those take a little bit longer to roast. In fact, sometimes, depending on what size you cube them in advance, those could end up roasting for an hour to an hour and a half in the oven. Things that are more moist-based and softer, like zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, those don’t take very long at all, and so those might only be like a half an hour or something like that. So, if you do a great big mix, you want to probably throw in the longer cooking vegetables first and then add those other ones later on.


Jay: Now, from a health standpoint and then maybe even from a flavor standpoint as well, what vegetables go well together?


Kari: Oh, yeah. Well, I think they all go really well together, but I like to mix my colors. I love mixing sweet potatoes and beets. I just love roasted beets. And then, you know, when you’re all done, I like to throw a little bit of, like, balsamic vinegar over the top of them and some feta cheese. Oh, my gosh. It’s just so delicious. Things that I don’t roast, I don’t really roast, like, peas. I mean, they’re kind of too little to roast. I don’t do a lot of roasting tomatoes just because they’re so soft, but I do use them on occasion and they’re pretty good. The other vegetables… Some things are just really hard to cut in advance. So, for example, I really love butternut squash roasted, but it’s a lot of work to peel and cube that, so I don’t do it very often. So, it depends on how much work you want to do, but from a nutrition standpoint, any kind of mix is fine. It’s what you like for a flavor blend more than anything.


Jay: Now, I noticed you also mentioned, you know, baking meatballs and making potato skins. That’s an interesting combination.


Kari: Yeah. Well, potato skins are kind of along the same lines as baked potatoes, but yeah, so a lot of my patients actually do a lot of their own potato chip making. They can use the skins or they can use the potato themselves, but you slice them super, super thin, really brush them very lightly with oil, and you bake them in the oven, and you have homemade potato chips, and you don’t have to worry about, you know, any yucky surprises or added ingredients like you would find in potato chips from the store. But meatballs, yeah, I mean, so when you bake them, it’s a dry, slow heat, so then you retain the nutrition in that and then you drain the fat off as well. You just pluck them right out of the fat rather than cooking them in that greasy stuff that keeps it in the meat. Does that make sense?


Jay: Now, you’re talking about potato skins. Do you put salt on any of that?


Kari: I do. Yeah. I use sea salt on all of my vegetables, really. So, some of the key things that I throw onto my roasted vegetables in terms of spices, I love, love, love fresh rosemary. Oh, it just enriches the whole roasting experience. Salt and pepper, definitely salt, brings out natural moisture in the vegetables that bring out more flavor. But I always recommend, you know, Himalayan salt or sea salt, something that’s got more minerals in it than just hydrochloric acid or whatever, or not hydrochloric acid but…you know what I mean, salt.


Jay: Well, and it’s, you know…


Kari: [inaudible 00:05:57].


Jay: …the Himalayan salt and you’re talking about the sea salt, I mean, as far as, like, a flavor standpoint, I mean, you’re not losing much with those.


Kari: Right. Right. Exactly. And so, I do a little bit of salt in the beginning of the roasting period, and then right before serving, I’ll add a little bit more.


Jay: All right. My guest today is Kari Collett. We’re talking about healthy cooking methods. It’s “Health Matters” in WJON, and we’re back after this.

Jay: AM 1240, 95.3 FM WJON, this is “Health Matters,” brought to you by Rejuv Medical. My guest today is Kari Collett, registered dietician, A to Zinc Nutrition. Today, we’re talking about healthy cooking methods. All right. So, we talked about baking and roasting, let’s move on to poaching and braising. What can you tell me about that?


Kari: Well, it’s a really moist method of cooking because you’re cooking whatever your main content is in some kind of liquid. So, for example, I have made cod braised in coconut milk before. Very delicious, very creamy very moist, very flavorful. And that’s the thing, you fill that liquid around the item with other seasonings. So, you can throw in, like, diced celery, diced carrots, diced onions, you know, really minced so there’s a lot of flavor surface, and then some seasonings. You don’t actually probably eat that broth with the meat, but you certainly could. And then, it retains the nutrients because you’re not frying it, you know, you’re not using any kinda fats, you’re not losing texture, you’re just retaining a lot of the pleasure in that food. So, a lot of people have talked about poached eggs. I’m not a huge fan of poached eggs, but, like, codfish, love poached cod, love poached vegetables. You keep the broth on them, and it just makes the flavor really, really rich.


Jay: Is there a little bit more work that goes into doing things poached?


Kari: Not really, because you still have to do all of the broth prep work. So, you can just use plain water, that would make it less work. I use homemade vegetable broth or homemade, like, chicken broth, that would be fine too. Of course, the chicken broth is gonna have a little bit more fat in it. And then, you know, depending on how flavorful you want your broth, there’s some work that goes into prepping all the vegetables or seasonings that would go into that. But more work, not necessarily.


Jay: Do you use the stove for that? I know that in the past, I remember making poached eggs and using the microwave, which is maybe not recommended, but it certainly got it done fast.


Kari: Yeah, right. Yeah, no, most time, I do all that on a stove, and it’s usually in, you know, a deeper frying pan type pan, so not super, super deep like a soup pan, but you don’t want it in just a regular, shallow frying pan because then you lose all the liquid. And a lot of times, when you’re poaching or braising, you’re covering it with a lid.


Jay: So, as far as some of the things that you suggested here, is there a flavor advantage by doing it this way with braising or poaching with some of the foods you mentioned?


Kari: So, when a food sits in the broth like that, that broth cooks into, like, the protein, for example. So, if you’re gonna braise chicken breast, or salmon, or something like that, all of that broth flavor cooks into the meat and it makes it really moist. And, yeah, it retains a lot of the flavor from that, so I think it tastes really good.


Jay: All right, let’s move on to steaming. And when I think of steaming, oftentimes I think of steaming vegetables because vegetables are really good steamed. Tell me about some of the ways that you can either do vegetables or other things.


Kari: Yeah, it really is primarily vegetables. You can do meats and things like that. But if I’m gonna do meat, I would prefer to have it poached or braised in a broth. Steaming, though, is a lot like poaching and braising, except that with steaming, your produce doesn’t actually touch the water, the water sits below and your produce sits in a basket of sorts to keep it away from the water. And so, you wanna just add a little bit of water to the pan and bring it to a boil first, throw your basket in, and then throw any vegetable in that you want. And, ideally, you don’t wanna steam those vegetables so long that they’re soggy. I mean, you don’t want it to come out completely overcooked, you wanna just really lightly steam them so they’re kind of a crisp-tender when they come out. That way, they have more flavor and more nutrition. But, really, you could do any vegetable.


Jay: If you’re steaming your vegetables, is it important to make sure that you don’t cook them too much? I mean, are you losing nutrients if you have them on there too long?


Kari: If you cook them too long, yeah, absolutely, you’re losing nutrients. You’re gonna lose a little bit with the steaming anyway, you’re gonna retain more than if they were in the water because that water actually pulls nutrition out of vegetables, it leaches it out. So, with steaming, you’re gonna retain more, but only to a point. If you oversteam, then you have vegetables that, in my opinion, don’t taste very good and there’s not as much nutrition in them.


Jay: If you cook the nutrition out of it, I mean, if they come in kinda soggy, is there much nutrition left at that point?


Kari: Well, there’s always some nutrition left. I mean, they’re not completely void, but you would just have to eat more of them to get the same effect, and most people aren’t going to do that. So, it’s just better to keep what you can in your food originally.


Jay: As far as flavoring on vegetables when you’re steaming them, do you do a lot of the same things, the salts, the rosemary?


Kari: Well, I sometimes will do spices while I’m steaming, but a lot of times with steaming, I’ll add those later. So, for example, like, one day I made steamed broccoli with…I sliced some red onion and I steamed those two things together. But when I took the broccoli out, rather than dumping the whole bowl with butter, I sprinkled some olive oil, and some balsamic vinegar on them, and some Kalamata olives, I sliced up and put in there, little salt and pepper. It was just amazing. I mean, nobody let the broccoli go on their plate, they ate the whole thing. So, there are some ways that, you know, without adding the typical butter, you can flavor your vegetables. either prior, while cooking, like, the onion and the broccoli, but then adding things like vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and all those kinds of things after it’s done cooking, that just makes it taste so good.


Jay: People that have listened to our shows in the past probably know that Kari likes to use a variety of foods and a variety of seasonings. You’re very creative about this. Where do you come up with these ideas?


Kari: Well, it’s kind of my job. I mean, when my patients initially start their diets with me, they get a very limited list of foods, and sometimes we don’t think creatively when the food list is so short, so I have to get them thinking, “Okay, I don’t have to just limit it to eating raw carrots, I can braise my carrots, or I can roast my carrots, or I can, you know, grate them and eat them in a salad. They would be raw, but they would be grated and a little bit different. So, that’s really my job, is to help people see that there’s 101 things you can do with a carrot because, otherwise, they’re gonna feel like they’re so restricted, they’re not gonna follow their plan.


Jay: Kari Collett is my guest today. She is a registered dietician, A to Zinc Nutrition. We’re talking about healthy cooking methods, especially at home. It’s “Health Matters,” back in just a moment.


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