Being a healthy cook might take a bit more time and effort, but the rewards in health and well-being make it very much worth-while.

Often it just takes some small changes to make a big difference in the quality of the meal you are preparing.

For instance, there is a world of difference between a boiled or poached egg and an egg fried in margarine. Even if the whole world knows getting the perfect 3 minute boiled egg is one of the mysteries of the kitchen.

There is also a big difference between your every day pancake batter and whole wheat pancake batter. Or between white bread and whole wheat bread. Often making the healthiest choice is just a matter of doing a bit of reading and understanding the composition of certain foods.

Understanding the balance between fat, protein, and carbohydrates is also important. To quit eating fat and omitting it from your recipes for the sake of good health is a big mistake. Fat is essential to provide fuel. Just make sure it's quality fat and you will have a clean fuel that will burn in the flame of complex carbohydrates. Add to that high quality protein necessary to re-build tissue and muscle and you are on your way to being a healthy cook.

For some healthy fats try replacing margarine and butter with coconut oil. Coconut oil is one of the food industry's best kept secrets. It will actually help you lose weight and is heart healthy compared to butter and margarine which are not. Try replacing vegetable oils with extra virgin olive oil.

Be sure to understand the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs such as candy, cake, cookies, and donuts should be used sparingly and complex carbohydrates should make up a good 40-50% of your diet. Some of the best complex carbs are brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal.

For protein choose lean cuts of beef and try and restrict red meat to two average-sized servings per week. White chicken and turkey meat is also a great choice, but be sure to remove the skin as most of the fat is stored there. For dairy products, try cottage cheese, skim milk, and yogurt for healthy protein sources.

Fish is a great source of protein and is also very high in omega 3 and 6 oil and at least one serving a week would be a great addition to your menu.

Being a healthy cook begins with understanding what role food composition plays in providing us with optimum health.

You will be well on your way to being a healthy cook if you balance your meals with about 5% simple carbohydrates, 40% complex carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 25% fat.

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