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Choose healthier ways to cook

The way you prepare and cook food can make a big difference to your health. When you choose to eat healthy food you can undo some of its benefits by not cooking it in the healthiest way.

Listed below are cooking methods, starting with the healthiest, through to the unhealthiest.


Steaming means the food is not in contact with the water, unlike boiling. This means the nutrients, colour and texture of fresh vegetables  are better preserved.


The food is only cooked for a short time in a small amount of oil. This helps maintain texture and nutrients.

When stir-frying, you should measure the oil out with a spoon. This allows you to control how much you add. Spray oil is another way to use less when cooking.


This is a quick and efficient way to cook. You only lose a small amount of nutrients as the cooking time is short and you need little water.

You must ensure any containers you use to cook the food in are microwave safe.


Baking can be healthy as you generally need little or no oil. You can bake chicken, fish and vegetables in greaseproof paper or foil parcels. You only need to add a little water or reduced-salt stock.

But there can be times when you might want to use larger amounts of fat or oil, such as when you roast potatoes. You can make them healthier by parboiling the potatoes first and then baking them in a small amount of oil.


Boiling is a fat-free cooking method but you lose nutrients, such as vitamin C and folate, in the water. Using less water will help preserve the vitamins and minerals in your vegetables.


This is a healthier method than frying. Grilling allows fat to run off the food. But you can lose nutrients as you're exposing the food to high temperatures.

Try marinating food with ingredients such as lemon juice, herbs and spices. This will boost flavour without adding fat. You can grill chicken, chops, steaks, fish and some vegetables.


Frying is the most unhealthy method of cooking. Adding fat increases the calories of food and the high heat destroys a lot of the nutrients. It's best to limit foods cooked in this way.

Cookery Courses

Norfolk County Council Adult Learning offer an array of life skills cookery courses. This includes slow cooking and cooking on a budget. Please see our Adult Learning life skills cooking courses for more information.

Choosing healthier foods to cook

Now that you know the healthiest way to cook, see Following the Eatwell Guide at home.

This will give you some ideas on what healthy foods to choose. 

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