I really enjoy cooking, but like many of you, don’t have a huge amount of free time to prepare meals and snacks. So over the years I’ve found some cooking shortcuts that reduce the amount of prep time needed for cholesterol-friendly meals.
Here are my favourites:-
1. Use rapeseed oil spray
Using a spray oil can save time, as you can coat lots of food quickly and evenly. I use it to spray chopped vegetables before roasting, grilling or frying, and when cooking low cholesterol pancakes.
Rapeseed oil is rich in unsaturated fats, so it’s great for low cholesterol cooking. It’s lower in saturated fat than olive oil and is one of the only unblended oils that can be heated to a high frying temperature without spoiling its nutrients or flavour.
2. Add tinned beans to everything
I keep a selection of tinned beans in my cupboard to bulk out meals and make them stretch further. By adding beans to a recipe, I can often turn a 4 portion meal into a 6 portion one.
Beans are great for lowering cholesterol, so I try to eat at least one portion every day. Any tinned beans will do (check for added salt and sugar though). My favourites are pinto beans, black beans and chickpeas, which I add to things like curries, stir fries and spag bol.
For more about which beans are best for lowering cholesterol, see this post.
3. Use frozen garlic & ginger
Instead of faffing around with a garlic presser or ginger grater, I buy frozen garlic and ginger from the supermarket.
Tesco sell packets of chopped garlic as well as frozen blocks of garlic and ginger, which I use in things like curries and stir-fries.
Not only does this save on time and washing up, but it also saves on food waste, as you only defrost what you need, so don’t end up with unused garlic cloves sitting in your cupboard going bad.
4. Don’t peel your veg
I never bother peeling vegetables like carrots, courgettes, aubergines and potatoes. It takes so long, and doesn’t seem to make any difference to the taste of the meal.
One of my favourite side dishes is grilled skin-on carrot and sweet potato sticks, which I spray with rapeseed oil before cooking to make them nice and crispy.
5. Use microwave brown rice
Cooking brown rice from scratch seems to take forever, so I cheat and buy microwavable brown rice. It takes just two minutes to heat up a packet that serves two, so is perfect if you’re in a hurry.
It can end up being a lot more expensive than cooking it from scratch, but many of the supermarkets do own-brand versions that aren’t too pricey.
When I have a bit more time on my hands, I cook up a big batch of brown rice from scratch and freeze portions to use when I need them.
6. Make breakfast in advance
Breakfast can be a bit of a mad rush during the week, so I like making overnight oats the night before so that they’re ready to eat by the morning. They keep well the fridge for a few days, so I generally make a few portions at a time.
Here’s a basic recipe for overnight oats, then you can add other cholesterol-lowering foods, like nuts, seeds, almond butter or peanut butter (made with 100% nuts).
I love this recipe by Deliciously Ella. It works just as well with semi-skimmed milk or almond butter instead of peanut butter.
7. Use frozen bags of fruit
These can be great value for money, especially if you get the cheaper bags of ‘imperfect’ frozen fruit that supermarkets like Tesco sell. Bags of frozen berries and chopped fruit like mango and banana are perfect for making quick cholesterol-friendly smoothies and fruit salads.
8. Use a slow cooker
Slow cookers are a great time saver, especially if you’re out at work all day. I like to prep it all the night before, then leave the food slow cooking during the day while I’m at work so dinner’s ready when I get home.
And if you double up your recipes, you can freeze portions to eat at a later date to save even more time.
For some great cholesterol-lowering slow cooker meals, see this post.