12 Things Everyone Should Know About Healthy Cooking

Filed under Healthy Cooking 101
healthy cooking

Are you wanting to start cooking healthily but need a little motivation to start?

Here’s what you should know about healthy cooking before you begin in order to clear up the misconceptions that abound, to inspire you to begin, and to ensure your success in making it a lifestyle.

1. Healthy cooking isn’t bland.

I think one of the greatest obstacles for anyone new to cooking healthy is the perception that they will no longer enjoy eating food anymore.

People think that healthy food is bland and boring and this isn’t the case anymore. I think this stems from the ’80s when a healthy dinner looked like a piece of dry chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and a dry baked potato.

Healthy cooking has evolved my friend and so has our nutritional knowledge of what is healthy or not. Today’s healthy cooking is full of flavor and should be enjoyable to eat.

2. Healthy cooking isn’t fat-free or necessarily low fat.

In case you still haven’t heard, fat is no longer the enemy as far as our health or our waistlines are concerned.  Just eat and cook with healthy kinds of fat.

Fats give our food flavor, moisture, and it aids in making us feel satisfied. Plus our bodies need them to function!

I break down which fats to use here.

3. Healthy Cooking emphasizes fresh vegetables and fruit.

Vegetables and fruit make up the bulk of a healthy diet, so they should be the primary ingredients in your healthy cooking as well.

Choose recipes that emphasize green leafy and colorful vegetables as these have the most nutrients and don’t be afraid to try new vegetables that you aren’t used to.

Fruit is nature’s candy, so satisfy your sweet tooth with a piece of fruit for dessert or as a snack.

I’ve written about easy ways to cook with more vegetables here and ways to eat more fruit here.


4. It focuses on whole foods.

Healthy cooking also revolves around using ingredients as close to their natural state as possible, thus processed foods are mostly avoided.

The only exception I generally make is with jarred pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, and tuna. I’m not saying that you can never have a Pop-Tart, but aim for your diet to be 80-90% whole foods.

5. It doesn’t have to take long to prepare.

I enjoy cooking, but I’m not one for spending hours in the kitchen each day, so I have developed an arsenal of healthy dinner recipes that take an hour or less to prepare. Many of which are featured on this website here.

Healthy cooking doesn’t require a lot of time. More time than popping a frozen dinner in the microwave, but the satisfaction and health benefits from just an hour of your time in the kitchen will be worth it.

6. Cooking healthy isn’t expensive, in fact, it’s cheaper.

For families on a tight budget, there is a misconception that cooking healthily has to be expensive. However, it’s actually less expensive most of the time. Take a look.

Chicken stir fry for 4

1 lb Chicken breast $3

Broccoli $1

Bell pepper $.50

1 onion $ .35

Mushrooms $1.99

1 cup brown rice $.20

Seasonings and olive oil about $.50

Total: $7.54

McDonald’s for 4

2 Quarter Pounder Meals


2 Happy Meals $8.00





Total: $22.00

Frozen dinners for 4

Healthy Choice dinners

4 x $3






Total: $12.00


7. Expert culinary skills not required.

Healthy cooking doesn’t require a cooking class or experience. If you can hold a knife, read, and follow directions, you can do it!

Don’t worry about being fancy and your cooking as well as your techniques will improve with practice.

8. It is nutritionally balanced

Aim to have a good balance of protein, carbs, fiber, and fat in your cooking. Meals too heavy in either of those are out of balance for most people.

Before you stress out about measuring all foods to get the right macros. Just aim for your plate to look like this and you’ll be on the right track.


9. Healthy cooking requires just basic cooking equipment.

A good knife, a cutting board, a couple of non-stick pans, and a couple of cooking utensils is about all you need to start making healthy meals for yourself or your family.

Of course, there are gadgets that make things easier, but they can be bought a little at a time. The essentials are very basic and inexpensive.

Another positive side of kitchen essentials is that they are usually easy to clean. Yes, gadgets may sound great, but having to clean a lot of different gadgets after cooking one supper may become a tedious task.

Things are easier with essentials. Сleaning a non-stick pan basically requires a baking soda and 15 minutes of your time (according to this article https://thedaringkitchen.com/how-to-clean-non-stick-pans/). And more instructions like these are available on the internet to make your life easier.

10.  It allows you to release your creativity.

Feel free to stray from the recipes and come up with your own healthy creations. The possibilities are endless and many find enjoyment using cooking as a creative outlet.

Yes, like me you’ll have your share of flops and failures, but in the end, you’ll have some really great recipes that you can call your very own.

11.  There are a million healthy recipes at your fingertips.

It has never been easier to cook healthily as there are so many resources available for free via the internet.

Cooking videos and about a million healthy recipes can be accessed quickly and viewed on the fly via your devices. All of my recipes are found here and of course, there is a treasure trove of great stuff on Pinterest.

12. Your Health Will Improve Greatly!

The single most important thing you should know about cooking healthy is that it will cause your health to improve greatly.

People have helped to heal their bodies of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer by transforming their diets.  Not to mention the weight loss benefit experienced by most who have cleaned up their diets.

Study after study shows us that those who consume high amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit have much better health outcomes and quality of life.

If you want more energy, a longer lifespan, and to just feel better, then it’s time to start changing the way you eat and focus more on healthy cooking.

What inspired you to start cooking healthily? Do you have any tips to share for those that are new to the lifestyle?

    Scientific References:

  • Lampe, J. W. (1999). Health effects of vegetables and fruit: assessing mechanisms of action in human experimental studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(3), 475s-490s. Link
  • Steinmetz, K. A., & Potter, J. D. (1996). Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 96(10), 1027-1039. Link
  • Svendsen, M., Blomhoff, R., Holme, I., & Tonstad, S. (2007). The effect of an increased intake of vegetables and fruit on weight loss, blood pressure, and antioxidant defense in subjects with sleep-related breathing disorders.European journal of clinical nutrition, 61(11), 1301-1311. Link
Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, author, and macros coach. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their body transformation goals.
Updated November 12, 2020


  • Treacle234

    great post.

  • Daniel Wagle

    I try to go out to eat only about once every two weeks. I think fixing one’s food from scratch is one of the most important factors in controlling one’s weight. A lot of restaurant food will be prepared with unhealthy fats and a lot of sodium. I mainly use nuts as a fat source, more so than Olive Oil or butter. But stick margarine is worse than butter and many places use this. I cook beans in a crock pot and a fix a salad everyday with dark green vegetables, as well as a healthy oatmeal with ground flaxseed, natural peanut butter and black strap molasses. I eat a lot of fruit and nuts each day as well. I use a lot of herbs and spices such as fresh garlic, and cumin seed.

    • Ted

      Couldn’t agree more and it’s much better for the budget as well. Thanks for the tips!

    • Deane Alban

      You’re so right – when you eat out you’ll be getting a lot more fat and salt than you’d expect. I did a breakdown of my lunch at Macaroni Grill – a chicken dish and a salad without dressing. I still ate more than a day’s allotment of both fat and salt! Very alarming.

  • JamesF

    Another excellent post Ted. For me personally simplicity is the key. Trying to follow more complex recipes just leaves me frustrated as I’m slow and messy in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ted

      You’re welcome! Yes, I agree the simpler the recipe the better.

  • spectra311

    I could not agree with this more. I cook from scratch all the time because we very rarely go to restaurants. I can control what fats I use and how much–I make a lot of roasted veggies, whole roast chickens, bean soups, etc. I do have a pressure cooker, a crock pot, and a meat grinder to grind my own meats (to make them leaner). I use olive oil and butter for the most part, but I love that by cooking from scratch, everything has less sodium and it just plain tastes better. Really, the worst kinds of food for your health are the highly processed convenience foods you find–packaged family-style entrees, ramen noodles, canned pasta, etc.