The Nutritional Merits of AGA Cast Iron Cooking
I strive to be healthy. Alright, yes, leave me in a room alone with a platter of cookies and I’ll tear into them like a velociraptor, but for the most part I try to become better educated on nutrition and make healthier food choices. Fortunately for me, I already have a leg up with my AGA simply by the way it cooks food.
Allow me to explain with the help of fellow AGA owner and leading health and nutrition expert, nationally-recognized registered dietitian, Ruth Lahmayer Chipps, MS, RD.
AGA Preserves Nutrients.
“Nutrition goals from health organizations recommend five to seven servings from fruits and vegetables per day. As people strive to eat more produce, it’s critical that they also consider the method of cooking used in order to maximize their nutritional benefit,” Ruth explains.
The way you cook your food directly impacts the nutrition content you consume. You can start with a lovely bunch of raw, nutrient-packed vegetables and easily destroy their healthfulness with high, direct heat. Fry your vegetables in high heat, and you’ll risk losing important fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Direct heat also can destroy vital omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA.
Therefore, to maximize your nutritional intake, eating foods raw, boiled or steamed is always best. Some studies suggest, however, that cooking certain foods like tomatoes, carrots and spinach allows healthful antioxidants to become more available to the body than in their raw state.
Using cast iron radiant heat, the AGA delivers the most ideal cooking method to gently steam and quick-boil food to retain nutrients and moisture. Carrots are a good example—the AGA keeps their true flavor, nutrition content and vibrant orange color as they are cooked to softness—not mush.
AGA Reduces Salt, Sugar and Oil Intake.
Otherwise known as the “troublesome trio”, these culprits are known to negatively impact health, especially with excessive consumption. Unfortunately, these are the same components that tend to bring flavor to foods we enjoy.
“A big problem in the kitchen is often the over-usage of oils while cooking, which can add hundreds of calories to our meals. For example, one tablespoon of olive oil has about 119 calories!” Ruth explains.
For those of us raised on conventional ranges, we expect to have to use butter or oil, salty seasonings and sugar to flavor food to be tasty. Why? Convection ranges employ direct heating elements and a fan to circulate heat, a harsh cooking environment that can dry out food and compromise flavor. Most of us don’t know there is a vastly different way to experience food until they eat AGA food.
Simply by cooking with an AGA alone, you can reduce your “troublesome trio” intake by 1/3 or more. This is because the cast iron AGA uses radiant heat to cook food gently and consistently, preserving the natural moisture and flavor of food. That means you can taste food for how it is intended to taste by nature, rather than masking it with loads of butter and seasonings.
Ruth is busy developing new recipes for Kitchen Icons, chef-inspired appliance and kitchen design/build company, and has noticed the AGA difference herself.
“I have been amazed at the intense flavor that is derived from foods cooked in the AGA.”
For overall healthy cooking, she shares this philosophy, “When considering your next nutrition-packed meal, think about this general rule: Keep cooking time, temperature, and the amount of liquid and fat to a minimum. Boost flavor with culinary herbs like fresh basil, rosemary, thyme and marjoram—and don’t forget the garlic!”
To learn more about Ruth, visit her web site livinghealthykitchen.com to watch her efforts to make kitchens healthier.
On my next post, I’ll share 10 healthy meal examples of this practice in action. Here’s to your health!