Healthy cooking does not mean you have to be gourmet cook. You just need to use basic food selection and cooking techniques that will turn fresh food into healthy meals.

It is wise to try to get all the nutrients we can from every morsel of food we eat, but is that realistic or necessary? Studies show that based on the daily nutritional requirements, if we get 50-75 percent of the original nutrients from the foods we eat, we will have no problem meeting those goals. The key to being successful is to eat a variety of foods. That variety needs to include protein sources, dairy foods, fruits and vegetables, and grain foods. That does NOT mean eating only chicken, cheese, carrots, apples, and milk. It means eating a variety within each group of food.

Healthy cooking methods can cut the fat and calories in your diet. Adults should limit fat calories to about 30 percent of total calories. For a 2,000 daily calorie meal plan, that means 600 calories from fat a day. That is about 5 tablespoons per day.

Below are some cooking tips that can capture the flavor of the foods and retain the nutrients in foods.

• Use cooking methods that use less oil, butter or fat. Each tablespoon of oil used in frying adds 14 grams of fat or more than 100 calories.

• Steaming retains the most nutrients because the food in not immersed in water. Just find a metal basket or colander to hold the food over some boiling water. Cover with a lid. Water will boil away easily, so be sure to start with enough.

• Use low-fat cooking methods such as grilling, broiling, poaching, stir-frying or roasting instead of frying.

• Broiling and grilling exposes food to direct heat, leaving it crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. These methods are great for meat, seafood, poultry, vegetables and even fruit. Try with sturdy vegetables such as carrots, or thick-sliced potato wedges. Marinate vegetables or brush light with oil and place 4 inches over