Slow cook: Benefit beyond nutrients!

Egg, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, beans are good sources of proteins.

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As we all know, proteins are large molecules with various amino acids linked together. The protein vibrates while cooking, therefore causing a denaturation of the protein molecules that has a substantial changes in the texture of the protein food. For example, when an egg is cooked, denaturation and rearrangement of the key protein molecules occurs. These rearrangement process will change the runny fluid texture to a rigid, firm texture. A wonderful network of protein!

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When it comes to meat-cooking, low and slow is definitely the way to go.  To reap the real benefits of high protein foods you should cook them slow.

Meat is different from egg. Raw meat is rich in collagen, a tight protein.  Collagen, a major component of the meat has tough and chewy texture. When done properly, this stiff & tough collagen will become a mouth-watering gelatin.  An amazing cooking process!

During slow cooking at 160º F /70º C, the connective tissue collagen protein begins to react with water molecules to form gelatin.  Gelatin is a nutrient that helps improve and support the liver & joint function, digestion, skin and muscle recovery! Gelatin is also a major ingredient for hair & nail growth!

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The slow cooking process will tenderize the meat without using additional fats that gives a soft and more palatable texture. The heat inside the crock pot builds up slowly and when the steam is not allowed to escape, the food will naturally retain the moisture. This slow cooking process will also help to pull out the nutrients from the bone. When cooked for longer hours, the tougher meats will slide down from the bone very easily. The taste, really great!

Slow cooking the meat at a lower temperature in a liquid, will help reduce the number of cell-damaging compounds called AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) when compared to food cooked in high temperature.  Methods of High cooking temperature like frying, grilling, roasting or broiling may produce these dangerous compounds that damage DNA.

Thaw the frozen meat, poultry, and trim the visible fat before adding to the slow cooker.  Slow-cookers require less energy than other traditional cooking methods.

Pre-soaking process will help to reap the protein benefit of the beans.  Soaking softens the beans. The beans can either be soaked overnight or you can bring the beans to boil for 1 minute and let stay soaked for an hour. Soaking in warm water encourage the production of various beneficial enzymes.  During the soaking process, the difficult-to- digest proteins are partially broken so that the body can digest and absorb the proteins easily.

It is important to drain the beans and discard the soaking water. Soaking allows the beans to release the in-digestible sugars and other toxic compounds that are naturally found in the dried seeds.

Slow cooking process will help vegetables to retain more flavor and makes the dish more appealing too. The broth along with the vegetables are rich in nutrients. The foods cooked slow and in lower temperature will help to preserve the vitamins and minerals. The firm vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, turnips will do well in slow cooker.  Do not add the canned beans or vegetables to the slow cooker, for they are already cooked.

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You can add the lemon and herbs at the end of the cooking process. Cooking beans with honey, sugar, lemon, or tomatoes will only harden the beans!

Slow cooker is more convenient and safe to prepare meals while being away from home. It comes in several sizes like 1-quart model to 12-quart models. You will not be tempted to grab the fast foods once you know that a healthy meal is waiting for you at home!

Recipe

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org

Baked chicken and wild rice with onion tarragon

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups whole pearl onions
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Cut chicken breasts into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces. Combine the chicken, celery, pearl onions and tarragon plus 1 cup of the unsalted chicken broth in a nonstick frying pan. Cook on medium heat until the chicken and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a baking dish, combine the wine, remaining 1 cup chicken broth, and rice. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken and vegetables to the baking dish. Cover and bake for 60 minutes. Check periodically and add more broth if the rice is too dry. Serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis per serving

Serving size: About 2 cups

  • Total carbohydrate 37 g
  • Dietary fiber 2 g
  • Sodium 180 mg
  • Saturated fat 1 g
  • Total fat 3 g
  • Trans fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 73 mg
  • Protein 21 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 1 g
  • Calories 330
  • Sugars 0 g

References

www.webmd.com

http://www.cancer.gov/

Charles Alais and Guy Linden, Food Biochemistry, 1991

http://www.mayoclinic.org

 

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