Skip to main content
Man cooking over hob
by Jenna Cox 25 March 2024

Tips and tricks for cooking on the Overcoming MS diet

Following the Overcoming MS diet doesn't mean a complete overhaul of your cooking habits, but rather a few subtle adjustments which might even unveil new avenues of cooking.

While the diet advocates for the use of extra virgin olive oil as the primary cooking oil, it also encourages exploration of diverse, oil-free cooking techniques, broadening the array of culinary options available to you.

 

Frying - ditch the oil

There are various ways you can fry foods without adding oil. Try using a dash of vegetable stock or broth, wine, soy sauce, or even just a little water. Reserve the extra virgin olive oil for drizzling at the end for a touch of flavour and a boost of antioxidants. Avoid frying with this oil as it may start to oxidise, creating harmful compounds that can be inflammatory and damaging to cells. Instead, sauté your favourite greens like kale or spinach with a splash of vegetable stock and minced garlic for a tasty side dish.

Baking and roasting

Roasting doesn’t require any oil at all. Experiment with simply using herbs and spices for added flavour, or try an air fryer for oil-free crispiness. However, if you prefer to use oil, extra virgin olive oil is a great choice. Just keep the temperature below 180°C (355°F) to preserve its health benefits. The good news is that olive oil retains a significant amount of its antioxidants even at moderate baking temperatures.

You can achieve a delicious, crispy texture in baked dishes without resorting to frying. Take tofu, for example. Cube it and toss it in a marinade of soy sauce, garlic granules, nutritional yeast, and a touch of maple syrup. Drizzle the tofu with a little extra virgin olive oil and dust with semolina or tapioca flour for added crispness. Bake at 180°C (355°F) for 35 minutes or so, flipping halfway through, and enjoy delicious and crispy tofu bites.

Roasting vegetables offers a double benefit – it enhances their flavour, and for some vegetables, it may boost their nutritional content. Roasting carrots and sweet potatoes can increase their beta-carotene content, which your body converts to vitamin A, essential for healthy vision and immunity. Similarly, cooking tomatoes concentrates their lycopene, an antioxidant linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

It’s getting steamy

Steaming is a gentle method that preserves the natural flavours and nutrients of fish and vegetables. Compared to other cooking methods, steaming vegetables retains a higher amount of vitamins and minerals, and it’s quick and easy too. Steam broccoli florets for 5-7 minutes until they are a vibrant green colour. Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for a simple side dish. By steaming rather than boiling broccoli, a higher amount of vitamin C is retained which is essential for immune function and collagen production.

Poaching

Poaching allows for gentle cooking of delicate proteins like fish, using liquids such as a low-sodium vegetable broth, wine, cider, or water infused with herbs and spices. Remember, gentle simmering and avoiding overcrowding the pan are key to perfectly cooked seafood.

Try poaching salmon fillets in simmering vegetable broth or wine with shallots and dill for 10-15 minutes, or until opaque and flaky. Serve with a creamy dill sauce made with soy yoghurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped dill.

Can’t take the pressure?

A pressure cooker operates by cooking food under high steam pressure, resulting in faster cooking times without experiencing the same leaching of vitamins and minerals that occurs with boiling.

Stewing and pressure cooking are ideal for making lentil and bean-filled flavourful stews and soups. With the right combination of root vegetables, herbs, and spices, you can put together comforting and hearty dishes that are perfect for batch cooking. They are, however, less suitable for delicate foods such as green vegetables and fish.

Raw power

Consider the nutritional advantages of raw vegetables by trying a simple curried cashew cream salad with chickpeas and raw broccoli. Raw broccoli contains higher levels of water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C and certain B vitamins, compared to cooked broccoli, as these can be diminished by heating. Additionally, raw broccoli is rich in enzymes that support digestion and detoxification processes, which can be deactivated during cooking. Raw broccoli also provides compounds such as sulforaphane and glucosinolates, which are linked to reduced inflammation and potential cancer prevention. Chopped up into small florets, with a delicious sauce or dressing, makes raw broccoli a great salad contender. So, switch up your cooking methods occasionally and give raw vegetables some plate real estate.

Cook up a storm

So, put on your apron, grab your favourite ingredients, and get experimenting. With a little creativity and these versatile techniques, you can create mouthwatering meals that are both delicious and supportive of your health.


Jenna Cox is a registered nutritional therapist based in Bristol, UK. She has been following the Overcoming MS Program since 2016. As a nutritional therapist, she is passionate about helping individuals, especially those with autoimmune diseases like MS, navigate their journey to optimal health through diet and lifestyle changes. Find out more about Jenna here and follow her on Instagram here: @jennacoxnutrition.