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FYI Magazine

Spruce Up Your Kitchen for Healthy Cooking

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Looking for innovative ways to make your goal of getting healthier this year stick? Try sprucing up your kitchen so that you're inspired to lighten up your cooking and eating habits.

The last months of winter are a great time to prepare, both

 mentally and physically, for the return of warm weather, lighter clothing, and hopefully a lighter and healthier you. All you need to do is survey your kitchen -- including pantry, refrigerator and freezer -- and weed out the stuff that doesn't lead to "clean" eating. What should be discarded can be replaced with "lighter style" equipment, tools, pantry basics and ingredients that will help you cook yourself healthy and slim without sacrificing pleasure, or convenience.

Healthy Kitchen "Worst Offenders"

Below is a list of culinary products and foods that have no place in a healthy kitchen. If they're lurking in your cabinets and shelves, send them packing -- or at least hide them in out of the way places until you need them for very special occasions:

* Deep Fat Fryer -- Fried foods are obviously high in fat, and with the right technique and equipment, you can easily "faux fry" potatoes, chicken, tortillas, and more, using your oven.

* Popcorn Poppers Requiring Oil -- Look for air-poppers, or choose low-calorie microwaveable popcorn to make bowls of this naturally wholesome snack.

* Waffle Irons -- Though many are "non-stick," some type of fat is required to keep the waffle from sticking, whereas pancakes can easily be made in a quality nonstick pan without added fat.

* Chocolate Fountain -- Once in a while, a little chocolate indulgence is fine, but this novelty appliance, which creates a "mountain" of melted chocolate doesn't provide good portion control.

* Granola -- Sounds healthy, yet the majority of brands are extremely high in fat and calories. It's also very easy to overestimate portions and end up consuming two or three times the recommended serving.

* Blended Fruit Juices -- Save calories and enjoy the complete nutritional benefits of fresh fruits like oranges, pears, apples, and grapefruits by eating them whole.

* Full-Fat Dairy Products -- Staples like milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and treats like ice cream and frozen yogurt, should always be either skimmed, part-skimmed or reduced fat. Look for light butter and 75 percent reduced fat cheddar cheese.

* Full-Fat Mayonnaise -- Reduced calorie and light versions of this popular and versatile condiment are readily available now. Formulations have been greatly improved, so there's no excuse to keep the old-style, high-fat jar of mayo in the fridge or pantry.

Healthy Kitchen "Must-Haves"

Now that the worst offenders are out of sight, replenish kitchen supplies with healthier choices, such as the following:

* Good Quality Nonstick Cookware -- Healthy cooking habits begin with an investment in durable pots and pans that heat quickly and evenly, and provide a long-lasting nonstick surface that allows you to cook your favorite foods without adding butter or oil. Circulon is a pioneer in gourmet hard-anodized nonstick cookware. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Circulon offers several collections of innovatively designed, metal-utensil safe nonstick cookware that easily release even the stickiest foods, like scrambled eggs, pancakes and fish.

* Good Quality Nonstick Bakeware -- Even if you're avoiding baking desserts, nonstick cookie pans, jelly roll pans and loaf pans are terrific for making healthy savory dishes like "faux-fried" chicken, meatballs, baked French Fries, turkey meatloaf, and more. Durable nonstick bakeware lets you bake and roast sweet and savory foods without greasing the pans. Look for heavy weight nonstick bakeware that won't warp or bend in the oven. Circulon Bakeware is crafted from fast and even-heating carbon steel. The durable nonstick on the inside and outside makes cleanup a breeze, and its pretty silver coloring won't over-brown delicate foods, like reduced-fat oatmeal and raisin cookies. A little treat is needed now and then!

* Kitchen Scale -- Learning the correct size of portions can be very tricky. Your idea of a four-ounce serving of steak may actually be 8 ounces, but you won't know for sure unless you weigh it from time to time to keep yourself in check.

* Oil Mister -- This tool makes it super easy and convenient to finish a dish or dress a salad with a smidgen of heart-healthy olive oil. Use the finest and most flavorful extra virgin olive oil you can find so that the smallest amount can deliver amazing flavor to your food.

* Zester/Grater -- Topping pasta, grilled or steamed vegetables, salads, scrambled eggs and other dishes with cheese can be healthy with this handy gadget, which grates cheese extra finely so you consume less than it looks. They're also terrific for grating citrus peel to give many dishes zestful taste with virtually zero calories.

* Light Coconut Milk -- A staple in many Asian and Caribbean cuisines, and the foundation of a delicious chicken, vegetable, fish or lamb curry, regular coconut milk is sky-high in fat, but you can find cans of light coconut milk at your supermarket or gourmet food store. It's a great way to jazz up a side dish of rice.

* Whole Wheat Pastry Flour -- More nutritious than white flour, but not as heavy tasting as whole-wheat flour, this is a great choice when you're making pancakes, muffins and quick breads. You can also use fiber-rich but light textured oat flour by grinding old-fashioned oats very finely in a food processor.

* Herbs & Spices -- They have virtually no calories and nearly limitless possibilities in making a healthy dish taste decadent. If you don't feel confident combining spices, check out the growing assortment of delicious spice blends available in the supermarket. Learn a few basics about using fresh herbs so you get the most of these perishable ingredients. Sturdier herbs like rosemary and thyme can easily be added to foods early in the cooking process to impart their flavors. Save the more delicate herbs like fresh parsley, dill and basil for the very end of the cooking process, or as a garnish.

For more information on healthy cooking and baking with Circulon cookware and bakeware, please visit HM111358