Cast Iron Cooking - Easy, Fast & Healthy

March 8, 2017
skillet meal

If you’re focused on food intake to help with nutrition and weight, there’s one key aspect of keeping things lean and healthy that you might not think as much about: how you cook.

Sure, what you eat – and how much – is important. But the cooking method makes a big difference too. A cast-iron pan is a fantastic choice for many of us. Here are some of the benefits.


Nutrition

One of the top reasons to consider cooking in a cast-iron pan is the actual iron that ultimately supplements the food – yes, cast iron leaches iron from the vessel into the ingredients as they cook. This can be especially beneficial for women, who often need a bit more iron in the childbearing years, as well as for vegetarians. (Of course, not everyone needs more iron—your annual physical can include a simple blood test to check your levels.)

Iron is a mineral that is naturally present in many foods, especially meat and dairy products. Vegetables contain iron, too, but it’s tougher to absorb when it comes from plant foods.


Health & Fitness

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to the tissues of your body. It’s also part of your myoglobin, providing oxygen to your muscles and supporting metabolism. Iron is needed for growth and development, cell function and hormone synthesis.


Mental & Physical Energy

Iron also helps carry oxygen to the brain. Irritability, lack of focus, and loss of motivation can all be a side effect of low iron levels. Low hemoglobin can also negatively affect the immune system, reserves your body needs for everything from healing and recovery to prevention of illness and infection.


Athletic Performance

Since iron in the blood helps your body carry oxygen from your lungs and sends fuel to your muscles, your body’s ability to use energy can become less efficient with low iron, and that affects your physical performance. If you’re an athlete, especially a young female athlete, you might be more likely to suffer a deficiency than your sedentary friends.


Natural Material

A well-seasoned pan of cast iron develops a naturally non-stick surface that will last you a lifetime – no chemical non-stick coating that flakes off into your food, and no need for a lot of added fat, either. It holds up well to higher heat, too, so you can sear your steak and brown your chicken to perfection.

So grab that cast-iron skillet (arm workout built in!) and keep it out for every meal of the day, starting with a morning frittata (yes you can do eggs in cast iron) and ending with this sesame chicken skillet below. http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/10/simple-sesame-chicken-skillet/

Sesame Chicken Skillet for 2

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh green beans
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1“ pieces
  • 1 tablespoon flour seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, then add 1 teaspoon of the coconut oil. Once melted, add green beans and cook for about 5 minutes, turning often until they begin to brown on all sides.
  3. Toss chicken with seasoned flour. In a bowl, whisk together chicken stock, sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, mirin and vinegar. Set aside.
  4. Add the other teaspoon of coconut oil to the skillet with green beans, then add chicken and spread to a single layer. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes until golden on one side, then turn over pieces and cook until golden on the other side, about 2 more minutes. Pour chicken stock mixture into the pan, stir to mix well, then take pan off the heat.
  5. Place skillet in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.




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