10 Essential Tools for Healthy Cooking
Every dieter knows that healthy home cooking plays a major role in weight loss success. There's no easier way to control the quality of your food and the number of calories going into your mouth than throwing on an apron and chef's hat. But before you start cooking up a storm, you need to outfit your kitchen with some new tools. You don't need to buy a million different things—just pick up the items from our Eat This, Not That!-approved list below. They were all curated with better health and weight loss in mind. Scroll down, check out our picks, do a little shopping and watch the pounds melt away!
Epicurean Color-Coded Cutting Boards, $20 Each
Epicurean cutting boards are made from a combination of recycled woods and plastics originally created for skatepark surfaces. These eco-friendly boards are knife and dishwasher safe and completely non-porous—meaning no bacteria can hide out below the surface and contaminate other foods.
Tramontina Cast Iron Pans, $14.99 – $149.99
If you usually use a few pats of butter or a couple tablespoons of oil to grease your pan, you may be adding hundreds of unnecessary calories to your otherwise healthy dish. Nix the need for the grease and cut fat from your plate by investing in a cast iron cookware set. Yes, nonstick pans serve the same purpose, but they can release potentially cancer-causing toxins into your food. While the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't suggest forgoing nonstick cookware altogether, they also don't yet know the long-term health effects of nonstick chemicals, so it's better to err on the side of caution and stick with cast iron. Pick up a variety of different pieces so you're prepared for any culinary adventure that lies ahead.
KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender with BPA-Free Pitcher, $130
Do you typically wake up the entire family whipping up your early a.m. smoothie or protein shake? Invest in this eerily-quiet KitchenAid 5-Speed. It's not only quiet as a mouse, but also free of BPA—a chemical found in plastics and metals that has been linked to obesity and other health conditions. Beyond smoothies and shakes, the KitchenAid can be used to mix up soups, sauces and oh-so-much more.
Hamilton Beach Simplicity 6-Quart Slow Cooker, $50
We get it: The last thing you want to do after a crazy-busy day is whip up a culinary masterpiece over a hot stove. If you invest in a crock pot, you can still make a homemade, healthy meal without all the late-night labor. All you'll have to do is throw your recipe ingredients into the pot and punch in the cooking time before heading to work. Stuck at the office later than you expected? No problem. After the cooker hits its prescribed cooking time, it automatically switches from "cook" to "warm" mode so a hot—not burned—healthy meal will be ready for you as soon as you walk in the door! It doesn't get any better than that.
Paderno Spiralizer, $40
This kitchen gadget-of-the-moment makes spiral cuts, shoestrings and "noodles" out of your favorite veggies. If you've been jonesing for some pasta since going Paleo or gluten-free, you're going to love all the yummy dishes you can whip up with this. Zucchini and carrot "pasta" anyone? How about some homemade curly sweet potato fries?
Cuisinart Mini-Prep Food Processor, $40
Cutting back on packaged foods has never been easier with this food processor. With this Cuisinart gadget, you can whip up homemade pestos, salsas, bread crumbs, nut butters, nut-based snack bars, puréed vegetables soups and hummus dips with ease! It can also be used to finely chop vegetables, herbs, seeds and hard cheeses. It's a truly versatile kitchen appliance that allows you to stretch your creativity in the kitchen. (Hooked on a store-bought hummus? Try one of the brands that make our list of good snacks for weight loss.)
All Clad Oven Probe Meat Thermometer, $50
Many recipes will instruct you to cook your meat until the juices run clear or until it no longer appears pink. However, the only sure-fire way to know if your turkey or roast is fully cooked and free of disease-causing bacteria is to check the internal temperature with a thermometer. Yes, you can find a less-costly version than the one we suggest here, but this one has all the fun bells and whistles! Before putting your food into the oven or onto the grill, you can program in the desired final temperature of your meat. When the food hits that temperature, the thermometer will sound an alarm. It can also be used as an instant-read tool. For the most accurate reading, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from bones or fat.
Pampered Chef Microplane Adjustable Coarse Grater, $36
If you typically buy pre-shredded cheese, you may be ingesting something called cellulose—better known as powdered wood pulp. Yum! It's used in most ready-grated cheeses (yes, even the organic variates) to stop the strands from sticking together. Steer clear of the ingredient by buying blocks of cheese and grating them at home. Why should you go with this Pampered Chef tool over a more standard box grater? Its design helps keep hands out of harm's way, and safety should always come first in the kitchen.
Wusthof Gourmet 8-Inch Cook's Knife, $80
While this knife may seem a bit pricey, nothing makes meal prep more difficult than a dull knife, so we think it's well worth the investment. This eight-inch Wusthof can take on slicing, dicing and chopping with ease. Plus, it's also great for trimming visible fat from meat. The less fat on your meat, the less fat that ends up on your frame.
Chefs Glass Fresh Herb Keeper, $20
Nothing amps up the taste of a meal like fresh herbs, but popular varieties like rosemary, thyme and basil will often go bad before the whole lot can be used up. Fear not, healthy chefs, all hope is not lost and there's an easy way to stop wasting your money on herbs that go moldy! By allowing the plants' stems to draw in fresh moisture from the bottom of the vat, this herb keeper can extend the life of your spices (and asparagus, too) by up to two weeks.