There's nothing particularly difficult, unusual, or complicated about healthy cooking. You don't even have to become a gourmet chef or invest in expensive cookware. Just practice the basic cooking methods below to best capture the most flavor and nutrients from your fresh or frozen foods.

BAKING - Stir up almond flour breads and desserts, plop them in a pan and bake. They will cook more evenly if they are no more than 2 inches deep. You won't even need to worry about them "falling" unless you undercook them. Even if they are undercooked, they will still taste good! Hint:  If the outside gets done while the center is still too soft and moist, lower your oven temp and cook a little longer next time. The only way you can ruin nut flour baked goods is to overcook them.

Also use this method to cook uniform-sized pieces of vegetables, fruit, seafood, poultry or meat. Place food in a pan or dish with enough liquid to keep moist. You may cook the food covered or uncovered. Covering will result in less browning on top.

BRAISING - This method involves browning the ingredient first in an open or covered pan on top of the stove, and then slowly cooking it with a small quantity of liquid. In some recipes, the cooking liquid is used afterward to form a flavorful, nutrient-rich sauce.

ENHANCING - Creating meals using spices and herbs is one of the best ways to add color, taste and aroma to foods. Choose fresh herbs that look bright and aren't wilted and add them toward the end of cookingAdd dried herbs in the earlier stages of cooking. When substituting dried for fresh, use about one-third the amount.

GRILLING & BROLLING - Both of these cooking methods expose fairly thin pieces of food to direct heat. To grill outdoors, place the food on a grill rack above gas-heated rocks. For grilling smaller items, use a long-handled grill basket, which prevents pieces from slipping through the rack. To broil indoors, place food on a broiler rack/pan below a heat element in your oven. These methods allow the fat to drip away from the food. I have a new indoor Calphalon electric grill with removable plates (for cleaning) that I couldn't live without!

POACHING - To poach foods, gently simmer ingredients in water or a flavorful liquid such as broth, vinegar or juice until they're cooked through and tender. The food retains its shape during cooking. For stovetop poaching, choose a covered pan that best fits the size and shape of the food so that you use a minimum amount of liquid.

ROASTING - Like baking, but typically at higher temperatures, roasting uses an oven's dry heat to cook the food. You can roast foods on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. For poultry, seafood and meat, place a rack inside the roasting pan with a little water in the bottom of the the pan if you want the fat to drip away during cooking and not burn in the pan.

SAUTEING - This method quickly cooks relatively small or thin pieces of food. Choose a good quality nonstick pan. Depending on the recipe, heat a little broth, water, juice, pureed fruit, butter or olive oil and toss in the food pieces. Stir and cook till tender. Cook covered or uncovered . . . covering the pan will conserve more of the liquid.

STEAMING - One of the simplest cooking techniques to master is steaming food in a perforated basket suspended above a pot of simmering liquid on your stovetop. If you use a flavorful liquid or add seasonings to the water, you'll flavor the food as it cooks. Steam your peeled and seeded vegetables and fruits until soft when beginning the SCD, but leave them crunchy to save the most nutrients when digestive symptoms are gone .

STEWING - This method is the same as STEAMING, but is done without the basket insert. A few more nutrients will be lost in this method as opposed to the STEAMING method. Steam your peeled and seeded vegetables and fruits until soft when beginning the SCD, but leave them crunchy when digestive symptoms are gone to preserve the most nutrients.

STIR-FRYING - A traditional Asian method, stir-frying quickly cooks small, uniform-sized pieces of food while they're rapidly stirred in a large wok or nonstick frying pan. You need only a small amount of broth, water, juice, pureed fruit, butter or olive oil . . . or a combination, depending on the recipe.

CROCKPOT - This is a no-brainer way to cook and one of my favorites! Just

MICROWAVING - It's best to not cook foods in the microwave since the intense heat changes the molecular structure of foods and destroys nutrients. Health enthusiasts recommend using it as little as possible and for slightly warming foods only.

Most of the time you will find that simply-prepared foods will be most satisfying. The average cook uses only about ten different recipes on a regular basis. So, why not try out a few recipes, decide which cooking methods you like best and use them over and over again? If you find yourself craving or wanting to "cheat" by eating "illegal foods", you're likely bored with your food and it's time to try out a new recipe!

COOK SMART!!! By cooking large amounts, dividing, freezing and rotating foods, you won't have to be in the kitchen as much!

Kay Stence