How do I cook

1.   I try to use fresh vegetables and fruits (Organic if possible).

2.   Free range meat, eggs and dairy. 

3.   Seafood; Wild caught fish (be careful where they were caught.  Do not buy fish from polluted regions).

4.   I use mostly whole wheat flour, or white-whole wheat flour. If I have to use white flour, I buy unbleached flour.

5.   Stay away from processed food as much as possible. Sometimes canned beans or canned tomatoes are ok (I use these If I don’t have time to shop or items are not available in a particular season). 

6.   I use raw sugar, never corn syrup or high fructose products or artificial sweeteners. My rule is: If the use of an ingredient remains controversial, avoid it.
I will give more recipes with milk and fruits for a lighter type of dessert. There are going to be some desserts that are heavy.  However, one may still enjoy heavier desserts by eating less of them.

7.   Always stay away from additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients, and flavor enhancers. They might magnify the amount of flavor; however, we are not built to process these and they may be harmful to one’s health with long term usage.

8.   Of course I use fat in cooking. However, I use good olive oil for almost everything, sometimes good butter and very rarely, for deep frying, I use frying oil. Deep frying is conducted at a very high temperature; it requires a fat with a high smoke point. I believe that the ideal cooking oil should contain higher amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, with minimal saturated fats and no trans-fats. I never use margarine in my kitchen.

9.   I try to cook without frying as much as possible without losing the originality of a recipe and without sacrificing taste. Some recipes still require frying. Once in a while, we can do that, but one needs to be careful of portion size.

10.   I utilize the pressure cooker a lot. It is the fastest way to cook delicious food. Pressure-cooked foods are more nutritious because they are cooked quickly in a sealed, almost oxygen free, environment with little or no liquid. Water-soluble vitamins and minerals are not cooked away. Vegetables retain their natural color and flavor as they can be steamed under pressure rather than boiled. Pressure cooking saves us time by cooking foods two to ten times faster than ordinary cooking methods. By one spending less time cooking in the kitchen, it frees time for other activities. Less energy is used than in using ordinary cookware, a cooler kitchen results and less air conditioning is used. I have many one pot pressure cooker recipes which mean there is only one pot to clean. This saves time and money too.

11.   If I boil any vegetables or pasta in water, I always save the water for making soups or sauces.

12.   I utilize good non-stick pots and pans so that I can cook with a minimum amount of cooking oil or without any oil.

13.   When choosing salt, your best bet is to buy the salt that tastes good to you, but use it in moderation. The new U.S. dietary guidelines now recommend that people aged 2 years and older limit daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg).

I use all kinds of salt. Here is the key point: If you add salt after cooking it will not season the food well. If you have a problem with high blood pressure, use less or no salt. If you want to cut down on your salt intake, stop eating prepared meals and snacks. These are the greatest sources of hidden salt in our diets. Some foods, such as smoked meat and fish, are naturally salty, so you don’t need to add more salt to them. When you cook gradually lower the amount of salt each time you cook, so your palette in time gets used to less. 

14.   You can increase a meal’s flavor by using herbs and spices creatively. Herbs and spices make food more delicious. However you need to use them wisely and carefully.  This way you can use less fat and salt. If possible make a small herb garden (parsley, mint, basil, thyme, oregano etc). Use fresh herbs for cooking and dry your own herbs like I do. Anyone can grow herbs in pots.

15.   Most importantly, I plan a balanced menu. I believe we should eat everything but proportion, balance, moderation is very important. I will give you menu ideas and also point out the combinations that work well.  

I come from a region of the world that is a melting pot of many cultures and from where the first civilizations began. Turkish cuisine is a blended cuisine and very rich. It is closer to Mediterranean food with a mix of Asian, European, and Middle Eastern cuisine. I call it Turkish because I learned the recipes from my folks but it is not necessarily native to the Turkish culture. Some foods have the same names but are cooked in a slightly different way. Food, as with many things in our world today, has become globalized. Let us try to cook healthy food. As a result of living in this country, I have learned different kinds of cuisine from my friends. I will a post my favorite ones, too.

Remember: You cannot create something good out of inferior ingredients and products. Buy the best you can afford. 

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