Health :: Answers (You May Not Know) About Healthier Cooking

Pass on the salt. Cut back on the sugar. Some easy recipe adjustments may be in order for healthier cooking. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource answers questions about healthier cooking.

Does adding salt to the water when boiling speed up cooking? Adding salt can increase the temperature at which water boils, but it doesn’t affect cooking times for foods. It adds unneeded sodium, which may contribute to blood pressure concerns. Another reason to pass on the salt: It draws water out of plant cells and can make some vegetables mushy. It can also make beans and peas tough.

To reduce calories in baked goods, how much sugar can you cut out of the recipe? In most baked goods, you can leave out half sugar the recipe calls for without significantly affecting texture or taste. Leaving out 1/2 cup of sugar cuts about 360 calories from an entire recipe. But because sugar increases moisture in baked goods, make sure you use at least 1/4 cup of sugar, honey or molasses for every cup of flour.

Can I grill fruits and vegetables? Eggplant, peaches and peppers cook well on the grill. In fact, you can grill most fruits and vegetables, including summer squash, sweet onions, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, mangoes, pineapples and pears. The key for grilling fruits and vegetables is to use low heat. Coals are ready when you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the heat for about five seconds.

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