5 Essential Kitchen Gadgets
At the risk of losing all credibility with my audience, I’m starting this blog with a confession. I have a Twinkies Maker in my kitchen. Now, to my defense, I bought it long ago as a novelty gift for my kids and I think the one and only time we used it was that day. Here’s the point…the market is flooded with kitchen gadgets, many of which lack nutritional benefits. So, I offer my recommendations for the 5 Essential Kitchen Gadgets that can actually improve your health…all simple to use and inexpensive.
My Top 5 Essential Kitchen Gadgets Include…
Digital Food Scale
Numerous studies indicate that most people grossly underestimate their daily food intake. Thanks in part to ever-growing restaurant portion sizes, we have a hard time recognizing a proper “serving”. A food scale will set you straight. I’m not encouraging obsession with weighing all food forever, but this is an essential tool at the start of a health journey to increase awareness of portions. And awareness is the first step to change. (Of course other measurement tools like spoons and cups are important too!)
You’re on your new health kick and you come home from the local farmer’s market with a bounty of colorful vegetables. And then a bit of panic sets in…now what? How should you cook them? Sound familiar? To maximize nutrients in vegetables, it’s important to minimize cooking time, temperature, and liquid, and a steamer basket fits this bill! Bonus: it’s super quick, easy, and mess-free! (Side note: I also use my steamer basket to steam eggs…they peel perfectly every single time! Here’s the link: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_steam_eggs/ ).
You must wash produce…this includes organic, homegrown, and even items with inedible skins (like melons). No matter how they are grown, bacteria and other contaminants can find their way onto the surface of that produce (have you seen people man-handling the produce at the store?). Tap water and a good produce brush is all you need. Skip the costly produce washes…studies suggest tap water can do just a good of job removing bacteria. A few tips: 1) Leave skin on produce like zucchini, cucumbers, apples, etc. to maximize nutrients and fiber. If you choose to peel, wash the produce first (this goes for inedible skins too) so as not to contaminate the inside when you cut into the skin. 2) Wash produce right before use…washing and storing ahead of time can cause items to spoil faster.
Cooking sprays are very convenient and make clean-up a breeze. But have you ever looked at the ingredients list? There’s more in that aerosol can than oil… soy, propellant, silicone, and a few other hard-to-pronounce ingredients, all of which are linked to negative health effects. Just as detrimental to health is the oil itself. Oils used in sprays include canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower…many of which are genetically modified and highly refined. GMOs have been linked to too many health issues to list here. Better yet, create your own spray using an Oil Mister and pure oil. My favorites are Olive (organic, extra-virgin, cold-pressed), Avocado, and Macadamia Nut.
I’ll cut to the chase: Excess carbohydrates equals excess insulin levels equals excess body fat equals health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease just to name a few. And one carbohydrate that is very easy to eat in excess is pasta! Did you know that one proper serving of pasta is about the size of your closed fist? Restaurant portions can be 4 times that amount! Not only that, but pasta contains gluten which is known to negatively impact gut and immune health. Spiralizer to the rescue! A spiralizer can turn vegetables into “pasta”! Although many vegetables contain carbs, they come with other nutrients and fiber, having less impact on insulin levels. Can’t give up pasta cold turkey? Try half and half to start – add some spiralized zucchini to a small portion of pasta.
The Honorable Mentions (more than $10)
BPA-FREE Portable Storage Containers
In our fast-paced lives, we often need to eat on the go. Take control of your food quality, portions, and cost by packing your own meals and snacks. Having some portable storage containers on the ready will help you do so!
A slow-cooker is the answer to the age-old question, “What’s for Dinner?” This item is essential for folks who are away from home all day and too exhausted (physically and mentally) to cook a nutritious dinner when they get home. Take a few minutes on a Sunday to look at your calendar for the week and decide on your “slow-cooker” days and (low-sugar) recipes. Added tip: always cook extra for leftovers!
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve read the entire post…thanks! I sure appreciate you reading but it doesn’t do you any good unless it promotes change. So most of my posts from this point forward will include “NOW WHAT” action steps. Here's your 2-part “Call to Action” this month…
- Purchase at least one of the gadgets above and try it out in your kitchen!
- Look at the gadgets you already have and get rid of at least one that you never use and/or has a negative impact on your health (goodbye Twinkies Maker!)
Healthy eating doesn’t take cooking classes, a degree in nutrition, or fancy tools. The simple tools and tweaks suggested above can have a cumulative positive impact on your health. Feel free to comment on your experience. And if you have a favorite gadget that is not mentioned, let me know!