18 April 2009

Every grocery and department store has sections with healthy cooking ingredients and tools. Most of us cannot afford that luxury, so we need to carefully pick and choose those items that will increase our enjoyment, make our lives easier, and make our food healthier and tastier. Here’s your top 10 items you should have in your kitchen :
  1. Blender. It works well to puree soups, make them thicker and creamier, eliminating the need for additional butter or cream. You also can make healthy smoothies (fruit, yogurt, ice, juice), low-cal mayonnaise, low-cal salad dressing and low-cal veggie dip with cottage cheese.
  2. Cookbook. You are probably not gifted with devising your own recipes on a regular basis. Let’s face it, we all need some inspiration, but you should try to choose one or two that suit your tastes and lifestyle, and believe me, there are a million of them out there.
  3. Cooking spray. What started out as one version of PAM has proliferated into several shelves of cooking sprays in a wide variery of flavors, including butter and olive oil. Fats are necessary for overall health, but excess fats contribute to weight gain, clogged arteries, and increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
  4. Crockpot/Slow Cooker. Make your life easier with one-pot meals utilizing cheaper cuts of meat. You can roast a chicken, make a stew or soup, and keep dinner warm for latecomers. Slow cooking allows the fat to cook off most cuts of meat, which you can skim off the top and avoid ingesting. It’s also a great way to cook dried beans and legumes. Split pea soup, navy bean soup, homemade baked beans, barley and vegetable soup.
  5. Grill pan. It allows you to cook meats, chicken, fish, and vegetables quickly and without added oil. Used on very high heat, the grill sears the juices in and provides for a tasty meal.
  6. Kitchen Scale. While many can eyeball portions accurately, most of us get it terribly wrong, causing for additional unwanted calories. A small kitchen scale can take the guesswork out of portion control and also comes in handy for many baking recipes that list ounces instead of teaspoon or cup measurements.
  7. Nonstick Pans. It allows users to reduce or eliminate fat when cooking everything from eggs to grilled cheese to fish. Early and cheap versions of the nonstick pans can peel and break up with repeated use and age, so this is one kitchen staple it is worth spending a bit more on. Just remember to keep metal utensils away from these pans, to keep the nonstick finish intact.
  8. Rice Cooker/Steamer. White rice, brown rice, red rice, black rice, and veggies can all be easily prepared in an electric rice cooker. There is no-mess and no fuss tool. Add rice and water, turn it on and get it only less than 30 minutes. Bonus feature is the warmer, which can keep your rice at serving temperature for several hours. No watching the stove or checking for evaporation. Get creative and cook your rice in broth, with herbs or even diced veggies. You can also add garlic or herbs to your steaming water when cooking veggies to add another flavor component.
  9. Spices/seasonings/herbs. One way to perk up any meal, healthy or not, is to use fresh ingredients and use added herbs or spices. Herbs like these and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and curry powder all add a flavor punch, as do seasonings such as Emeril’s Cajun Seasoning and Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic. There is also a good variety of herb mixes with lower salt content.
  10. Truvia/Stevia/Agave: Hot on the market are the new natural sugar substitutes. With 300 times the amount of natural sweetness of the popular sugar cane, you can now find this in sodas and in packets of sugar substitute called Truvia. Produced from the agave plant, it is thinner than honey but thicker than maple syrup and is very mild in flavor. It can be used to sweeten your coffee and tea, cereals, and used as a substitute in baking. It is lower on the glycemic index, making it a good choice for diabetics.

1 comments:

Concrete Gambrills, MD said...

oooh i need to get some of these!

<3 Lindsay

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