Healthy Cooking Part 2 with Kari Collett of A to Zinc Nutrition – radio Interview WJON

Part 2 on Healthy Cooking with Kari Collett of A to Zinc Nutrition
Health Matters with Jay Caldwell of 1240AM WJON St. Cloud


Interviewer: AM 1240, 95.3 FM, WJON, this is “Health Matters”. My guest today, Kari Collett, registered dietitian, A to Zinc Nutrition, talking about healthy cooking methods. We move on to the one that, I think, is my favorite, it turns out it’s Kari’s least favorite, grilling. Especially in the spring, the summer, the fall, we’ve had some pretty good weather for grilling here lately. Kari, how can we cook healthy using a grill?


Kari: Yeah, good question. So, grilling is really good for the fact that it drips fat off while it’s cooking. So, our cooking method reduces fat that way. The disadvantage to grilling, though, is the carcinogenic effect of it. We cook at really high temperatures, all that smoke…that fat drips into the flame, and then that smoke comes up and chars our food, and we get those charred things on the grill grates themselves. So those are carcinogenic, meaning it’s kind of like smoking a cigarette. It promotes cancer. So, the first thing I encourage people to do, just grill occasionally. We all love the flavor of grilling, that’s why we do it, that’s why it’s so popular in the summer. So, I’m not saying not to do it, just reserve it for special occasions. And then, cook to a temperature that is necessary to cook the meat and then don’t leave it on any longer. You don’t wanna overcook because then that increases the carcinogens even more. So, you wanna get right to the point where you should stop cooking and then be done.


Interviewer: How about if you cook at a lower temperature? For instance, if you’re using it as a smoker at 200 degrees, is that better or worse?


Kari: Well, probably better. I don’t have any data for that, but probably better because it’s more contained. There’s no flame if you’re smoking, right? The other thing that I’ve just learned about recently, and I haven’t done a ton of research on this either, is there are grills out there now that heat with infrared. So there’s no open flame, but you still get that grilled taste and you still get…you obviously get cooked food off of it, but the fats drip off because it’s on a grate. So, just like regular grilling, the fats drip off, but you don’t get the flame, so you’re not getting the increase in the carcinogenic effect.


Interviewer: How about cooking vegetables, kebabs, chicken, poultry, those things on the grill? What do you think?


Kari: Yeah. I like all that on the grill. Like I said, I do it rarely. And you probably wanna add some kind of moisture. A lot of the kebabs and things like that have a nice glaze on them. Like, if you wanted to put a sesame oil on there with some soy sauce, if you can eat soy, and some other seasonings, then you retain some of the moisture in the meat, and that can help with the palatability of it and probably even some of the nutrition of it when it’s all done because it hasn’t all cooked off.


Interviewer: Let’s talk about another method that I really like, stir-frying. Tell me about how you can do this successfully.


Kari: Yeah, so stir-frying is really very high heat, with just a very tiny bit of oil, and then you’re cooking vegetables for a very short period of time. So, you’re breaking down some of those initial compounds that keep us from always enjoying raw vegetables. But yet, because it’s such a high heat for such a short period of time, we’re retaining a lot of the nutrition, and we’re stringing it all together. And so, there’s no water that’s gonna capture the nutrition out of that. And then we dump it out. We get all of it right in that stir fry. And with all the different types of things we put in a stir fry, they can be really flavorful.


Interviewer: Right. And you can…lots of different vegetables in there. Any other suggestions that you should put in that stir fry?


Kari: Well, so one of my favorite things to do with stir fry is to…like I said, I mentioned sesame oil. So, there are two different kinds of sesame oil. One is just the standard clear sesame oil, that one would probably the oil that you would put in initially to do the cooking, the stir-frying. And then at the end, when the cooking is all done, that’s when I add a toasted sesame oil because that adds nutrition, but it also adds a really rich flavor. And it’s not an oil when it’s toasted that we should use for the cooking part, but it’s more for the flavor at the end, and I really like that it adds a moisture and a flavor that just makes the stir fry really easy and enjoyable to eat, especially when you’re serving it over something dry, like a rice or a quinoa or something like that.


Interviewer: What kind of rice is the best rice?


Kari: Well, it depends, but most of the time I recommend brown rice because it’s got more nutrition, it’s got more fiber, and I mean, personally, I just like the flavor better. But, especially for people that may struggle with constipation, I don’t recommend white rice.


Interviewer: How about slow cooking? What kind of suggestions do you have in doing that?


Kari: You can really do just about anything in a slow cooker. I love slow cooking because I can throw everything in the Crockpot in the morning and I come home and dinner’s ready. For me, it’s more about saving time. But because you’re cooking everything in a pot, and you’re capturing all the nutrition in the juices and whatnot, and the vegetables are absorbing moisture from whatever you’re cooking, yeah, I mean, it’s just really a healthy, palatable way to eat again and you can do just about anything in there. There’s tons and tons and tons of slow cooker recipes out there on the web, so…


Interviewer: How are the flavors when you use the slow cooking method?


Kari: Well, they all blend, and so that’s…you have to sometimes be careful. So, I’m not a fan of throwing broccoli in my slow-roasted or slow cooker with meat. I’m just not a fan of that, but I love cooking chicken breast or roast, like a beef roast with carrots and potatoes. Love those flavors. So, no matter what you put in there, the flavors are going to be blended. So, if there’s something you like, if something doesn’t blend well, don’t put it in. I mean, make that as a separate dish.


Interviewer: Now you mentioned roast carrots, potatoes. I mean, why is that combination so good together?


Kari: Good question. I think, well, it’s a pretty traditional type of recipe, especially in winter months in countries that were really short on fresh foods. So, as we think about historically when we didn’t have the same preservation of food that we do now, lots of German countries, Norwegian countries, things like that, they had potatoes and carrots because they were root vegetables and those kept really well all winter long. And I think it just got to be that we got so accustomed to that, that we just now think that they’re good together. And most people prefer that. Sometimes people would want cabbage or a few other things, anything that could have been preserved longer. So, I think that’s the history behind it and why we’ve just adapted to it so well.


Interviewer: Kari Collett, registered dietitian, A to Zinc Nutrition, my guest today. This is “Health Matters” on WJON. We’re talking about healthy cooking methods. Back in just a moment.

Interviewer: AM 1240 and 95.3 FM WJON, this is “Health Matters” My guest today is Kari Collett, registered dietician A to Zinc Nutrition. Today, we’re talking about healthy cooking methods. Okay. Here’s one that seems to be catching on. And I was just telling Kari that we just got one at my house, we haven’t used it yet. It’s still in the box. Instant Pot pressure cooking and you have one and you’ve used it quite a bit.


Kari: Yeah. I bought one a few years ago just because I kept hearing from all these people how great everything was that came out of it and how quick your meals were prepared and like, “Wow, I gotta get one of those.” And I really have adapted to it very well and I love it. So, in addition to making meals and stuff with mine, I also make things like big batches of bone broth. So, I have always got homemade bone broth in my freezer rather than having to buy it. And I also do beans. Like I buy dry beans, like red kidney or garbanzo or something like that. I’ll soak them overnight and the next morning I throw them in the instant pot and they’re done in 30 minutes. And, you know, traditionally, they would have to cook on the stove for three hours. So, I use mine for bulk food preparation in addition to meals.


Interviewer: Why is the Instant Pot so successful? I mean, how does it cook things so much faster?


Kari: Well, because it’s pressure. So, everything is pressure gauged and yeah, I don’t understand the science behind it as much as I probably should. But you can cook a meal, you know, once it gets up to pressure in 15 minutes, depending on what’s in there, or even 5 minutes, depending on what’s in there compared to, you know, you have to start at the oven, then you throw the foods in the oven, then two or three or four hours later now you have a finished turkey or whatever. And yeah, there’s something about the pressure that just makes everything cook faster and it gets really juicy. So, that pressure just retains all of the natural moisture that’s in the food and just makes really good food.


Interviewer: Doesn’t retain the nutrients.


Kari: Oh, for sure. Yeah. So, especially if you use the liquid that comes off of those foods, you know, a lot of times people will throw liquids away, but I’m a saver of liquid. Sometimes I’ll, you know, make some kind of sauce with it that goes over the vegetables that we’re eating at that time, or sometimes I’ll just save the liquid like a broth, like if it’s a vegetable broth or something like that, then I can make soup with it later. The only food that does not cook in the Instant Pot well at all are dairy foods. I reheated a soup in my Instant Pot once with…it was a milk-based soup and I opened up the container and it was all curdled and it was just disgusting. So, don’t do that.


Interviewer: Well, and you’re not a fan of dairy anyway.


Kari: Not really, no. But on occasion use dairy in my cooking. I don’t drink milk, but sometimes there’s no way around you know, a creamed tomato recipe or tomato soup recipe without, you know, some version of milk.


Interviewer: Couple of other methods to get to here, air frying, I’m not familiar with this one. What is this?


Kari: So, air fryers, the concept is that they’re just like deep frying only there’s no oil at all. There’s just really hot air that circulates around the food and the key there is circulating so that it gets dry. You know, the deep-frying method makes your food crispy on the outside. And that’s the concept with air frying is that we want it to be crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and do it without oil because frying oil is just very unhealthy. I think a lot of people are very happy with them. Some people still prefer the deep frying, you know, it’s just not quite as crispy as oil frying, but it’s definitely something to think about if you do a lot of that cooking method where you want fried fish or fried this or that, and/or fried potatoes, and you don’t want to use oil because you have some kind of, you know, heart disease or other inflammation that you don’t want oxidized oils.


Interviewer: Are there certain foods that are good for air frying?


Kari: Well, a lot of people like to do chicken wings, French fries, like homemade French fries. You can you know, slice your potatoes like a fry and cook them in that way. I do know some people that really primarily bought one specifically for cooking up their wali, you know, they used to deep fry them every single time and now they use the air fryer.


Interviewer: And then I suppose our last method is just don’t cook them at all, eat them raw.


Kari: Yeah. Yeah. There’s so many ways to throw vegetables together that they just can be so delicious. The other day I made just sliced cucumbers and tomatoes fresh out of the garden, I drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, crushed some garlic in there, threw in some fresh basil and salt and pepper, of course. And, oh my gosh, it’s just like, you can just eat a whole bowl of it. You don’t even think about the fact that these are raw vegetables. They’re just really good.


Interviewer: The foods you’re getting out of your garden, are they better for you, more nutrients than what you might buy at a store?


Kari: Absolutely. You know, all of the things that I’ve harvested my garden are fresh-picked, delivered, and cut up and eaten within a day or two. The things that we get from a grocery store could have been shipped from anywhere across the country. And so, they were picked a while ago. The other thing about my fruits and vegetables that I harvest out of my garden is that they’ve most of the time been sun-ripened. And that always brings a higher level of nutrients into that plant to have it ripened by the sun where, you know, if it’s traveling a long distance, that fruit or vegetable might’ve been picked pretty green so that it could get here safely. So, yeah, I think I’m a fan of anything fresh and local when you can get it.


Interviewer: Kari, if people are listening to this and they’re like, “Boy, there’s a lot to get to.” If someone would like to contact you and try to get an idea of what foods they can cook to make them and their families healthier, maybe even lose some weight if that’s one of their goals, how can they get ahold of you?


Kari: Well, they can just hop on to, and they can schedule a free 15-minute call with me.


Interviewer: Excellent. Kari, thanks as always. And we’ll talk to you again soon.


Kari: All right. Thank you.


Interviewer: That’s Kari Collett, registered dietician A to Zinc Nutrition here on WJON. This has been “Health Matters.” We’ll return next week at this time.


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