Healthy eating with AGA
Griddling is an ideal cooking method when you want to concentrate on the flavour of one or two ingredients. Griddling caramelises the natural sugars of vegetables and fruit adding a smokiness of flavour and uses far less fat or oil than frying. There is a choice of ridged non-stick cast aluminium AGA griddles which can be used in the Roasting Oven and on the hotplates, including Induction. The ridges on the griddles concentrate the heat, ideal for quick cooking of steaks, fillet of lamb or chicken, fish, kebabs, sausages or home-made burgers and of course you get the attractive striped appearance. The ridges allow the fat to drain away from the cooking food.
For a simple flavoursome lunch griddle ribbons of courgette with strips of red and yellow peppers, toss with a little balsamic vinegar and ground black pepper. Scatter over some cubes of feta cheese. Serve sprinkled with an herb of your choice, such as parsley or oregano. Add griddled chicken or beef strips for extra protein if you wish.
Brush slices of aubergine with a little oil and griddle on both sides until soft and serve with a garlic yogurt dressing.
Carbohydrates account for over a third of food we eat, so choose those with a high fibre content which makes us feel fuller for longer. The classic example is oats for breakfast in the form of porridge. An AGA Sauce Pot with Lid featuring its non-stick interior is an ideal choice for either making AGA overnight porridge (using oatmeal) or using rolled oats to cook in the morning. The non-stick surface is so easy to wash. Incidentally I find the Sauce Pot comes into its own at this time of year for cooking asparagus spears.
When making bread, cakes, muffins, crumbles or pastry substitute half wholemeal flour or oatmeal for the white flour to give fibre and flavour.
Substitute filo pastry for shortcrust to reduce the calories. Filo makes a lovely topping for pies or pastry case for quiches.
Gentle cooking of casseroles, curries, bolognaise and chillis in the Simmering Oven, especially when using the with AGA Stainless Steel pans with their tight-fitting lids, means less liquid is required, (compared to cooking on a hob), because there is less evaporation, meaning more flavour.
Using the special AGA technique of steaming root vegetables in the Simmering Oven retains the colour and more vitamins than boiling solely on the hotplate. Bring the vegetables to a boil on the Boiling Plate, cook for a few minutes, drain then place in the Simmering Oven to steam. The AGA Stainless Steel pans with their heavy 6mm tri-core Superthermic© base perform brilliantly on the hotplate and in the oven, plus the well-fitting lids make sure the steam is kept in the pan. The flat lids make stacking of several pans in the Simmering Oven possible.
Dried beans and pulses provide protein and with more time on our hands these days try cooking them at home rather than just opening a can, the flavour is worth it and there is no hidden sugars or preservatives. Soak the beans overnight, rinse and cover with fresh water, bring to the boil in an AGA Stainless Steel pan and place in the Simmering Oven to cook according to the specific pack instructions – some varieties such as red kidney beans will need 10 minutes boiling before the simmering process – add some flavourings to the water, if you wish, such as garlic or parsley stalks. Any left-over beans can be frozen successfully.
Green vegetables are very important in the diet and they can be cooked in many ways. The simplest is by quick boiling to serve as a side dish. Always place into boiling water. The AGA Stainless Steel pan boils quickly and you only need enough water just to cover the vegetable, cook quickly for a short time to retain a vibrant green colour and its vitamins. The cooking water can be used for making gravy or as a base for a soup.
Green vegetables can also be stir fried using the AGA Wok or Sauté Pan. They only take a few minutes and can be used as a side or as part of a more elaborate stir fry.
Fish is a healthy food, especially oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, and sardines. Cooked in a cast iron oven it does not need any extra fat or oil and an AGA non-stick griddle or frying pan can be used on the hotplates and in the oven (the frying pan has a removable handle for oven use). Just cook the fish seasoned with salt and pepper alternatively for fillets add a topping such as a herb, breadcrumb and cheese or a smear of pesto, for whole fish stuff with herbs and lemon.
We are advised to drink plenty of fluids for a healthy lifestyle; obviously the AGA Kettle is designed to boil quickly for the hot beverage of your choice! However there are more ways to introduce fluids to the diet, such as summer soups. I usually make these lighter soups with the minimum of ingredients and do not use oil or butter to fry off the vegetables. A simple cauliflower or asparagus soup is easily made in the AGA Stainless Steel saucepan or casserole, which can be used on the hotplates (of all cookers) or in the Simmering Oven, there are a number of different sizes dependent upon the amount of soup to be made moreover the saucepan and its lid can be placed in the dishwasher after use!
Make meal times an occasion, sit down together at the table with no distractions (leave the phones in another room) and savour the food and the company. Concentrating on food and eating has been shown to discourage ‘grazing’ and snacking.