#1: Measure, Measure, Measure
Do not assume the amount. Use measuring cups and spoons for spices and condiments every time. Use cooking scale to measure meats, vegetables and even rice. This is important because a small difference in amount can make a significant difference in calories.
#2: Cut Oil when Cooking
You can reduce the amount of oil by using a toaster oven. Place aluminum foil over the tray and then the meat on the foil. It is easy to cook and to clean. You can cook consistently by experimenting with temperature and cooking time with your toaster oven. For example, my toaster oven works well with 450F degrees on toast setting. Don’t forget to preheat.
If you use frying pan, use a little oil by spreading with a small piece of paper towel. Use cooking chopsticks or tong so that it doesn’t get on your fingers.
#3: Go Low Sodium
Remember salt is always optional. Start reducing the amount of salt little by little. You will get used to it and enjoy the real flavor of vegetables and meats. Use herbs and Dashi (a Japanese seasoning made out of fish). Read more Master How to Make Dashi.
#4: Bigger Chunks of Vegetable
Cut vegetables larger and do not overcook. This will cause you to chew more when eating. You will take more time to eat and it will give your body a chance to feel full. Remember it will take about 20 minutes before you start feeling fullness. Enjoy the texture of the vegetables.
#5: Skip Bread
Bread is not an option for a dish in the set meal. A plain slice of bread may be lower in calories, but you normally smear butter or jelly. Each 500 calories set meal comes with 100g of steamed rice. Eating rice makes you feel full and the fullness lasts longer because your blood sugar level goes up slower than when eating bread. Read more How to Cook and Store Japanese Rice.
#6: Forget About Beef
You will not find a recipe for beef. 100g of beef has about 300 calories depending on the cut of meat. You will enjoy tasty chicken, pork, and fish. Trim skin and fat before cooking.
#7: How to Use Salt
Salting will remove moisture from meats. This will improve the flavor and texture of meat when cooked. If the meat contains too much moisture, you will end up cooking the meat in water and the result is chewy or rubbery texture of the meat. Also the flavor is diluted if you want to add sauce to cook the meat. Salting also works for removing fishy taste. It will be more effective when you sprinkle of salt to cover the meat (about 1% of meat weight) 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking.
Some vegetables, such as cucumber, daikon, and cabbage, contain a lot of water. After you cut vegetables, sprinkle salt, leave it for a few minutes and squeeze it to remove the water. If you miss the step, the water will be released into the dressing and make the dressing flavor weak. Not only the step makes the texture crisp but also vegetables absorb the dressing better.
Vegetables are likely to lose nutrient after harvested as vegetable cells continue to breath. You can modify a recipe by adding, subtracting and replacing vegetable ingredients depending on what you have in the refrigerator. Use same ingredients for different items in a set meal . For example use mushroom for salad and soup in the same set meal.
When I use broccoli florets as a garnish for the main dish, the leftover stems can be used for soup or stir fry. Eat the whole vegetable. If you get daikon with leaves, use the leaves like spinach. Leftover beaten egg can be stored in a plastic soufflé cup and frozen until you need the half egg.
Try this when you buy bulky vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, and know you will not use them within the same day. Lightly boil/steam and then rinse them with cold water. In this way they can be kept well in refrigerator without losing nutrient for up to 3 days. Not only that, you can use for cooking, as garnish, or just snack anytime!