You avoid fatty foods, eat sweets sparingly, and hit the gym almost every day, but there's still one more tool you need in your weight-loss arsenal: a healthy kitchen. "The fastest way to eat smart is to be your own chef," says Claire Robinson, the host of 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Network. And having the right equipment can streamline meal prep while making it easier to control portion sizes and calories.
To help you make over your kitchen, we identified three healthy-eating goals proven to take off pounds. Then we searched high and low for the best tools to help you achieve them. Whether you want to incorporate more lean protein into your meals or give up your takeout habit for good, these picks and expert tips can make it happen, without taking the enjoyment out of food.
dine on lean protein
Research shows that lean meat, fish, and soy products help you maintain calorie-torching muscle mass during weight loss. These gadgets make it easy to serve up slimming, protein-packed meals with less fat.
* Flip for fish To incorporate more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and cut your calorie intake, try substituting seafood for meat twice a week. Cod, for example, has 180 calories per 6-ounce serving compared with 320 in the same amount of sirloin. For picture-perfect fillets, pick up the grill-tolerant Kitchen Friends Super Silicone Fish Spatula ($15; bbqproshop.com), right. The elongated shape prevents delicate pieces from breaking as you turn them.
* Infuse flavor fast "The healthy way to add taste to lean cuts of meat is with a low-calorie marinade," says Joanne Weir, the host of Joanne Weir's Cooking Class on PBS. The Vacu Vin Instant Marinater ($38; qvc.com), above, works in less than 10 minutes with the help of some cool food science: A pump sucks air out of the container to create a vacuum. This forces oxygen out of the meat and draws marinade in, causing it to penetrate more deeply in less time. Weir is a fan of fruit juice marinades: Soak chicken in ginger, soy sauce, garlic, and pineapple juice.
* Go green and lean Health concerns about nonstick pots and pans have been circulating for years, but the coating on the Thermolon Rocks by Green Pan Professional Series 10-inch Open Frypan ($45a; bsn.com), below left, is toxin-free and eco-friendly. It's perfect for stir-frying and browning chicken breasts and tofu with little or no added fat, and you can also use it to sear meat at high temperatures (up to 850[degrees]F!).
* Ditch the grease "You want to remove as much excess fat as possible when cooking ground meat and poultry, but tilting the pan to drain grease can be awkward," says Marlisa Brown, R.D., the president of Total Wellness, a nutrition consulting company in Bay Shore, New York. The heatproof G-Spout ($15; g-spout.com), right, fits almost any pan and keeps meat in place while drippings flow out.
cut down on takeout
Generous portions and tempting high-fat options make it hard to keep fast-food calories under control. But let's face it: The drive-through is convenient. Use these tools to save time and create delicious, good-for-you results at home.
* Make cooking whole grains easy They're a staple of any healthy diet, but the hour-long cooking times for many grains can be too much for a hectic weeknight. To nix the dinner dilemma, try a rice and grain cooker, like the stainless steel NutriWare Whole Grain Gourmet ($150; aroma-housewares .com), left, which makes 4 cups of brown rice in just 30 minutes. A microcomputer in the unit adjusts the time and temperature so you can cook any type of grain, including amaranth, farro, and oatmeal.
* Perfect your pie One slice of takeout pizza can pack more than a third of your daily sodium (and calorie!) intake--and we all know how hard it is to limit yourself to just one. For an equally tasty but healthier version at home, we like the Pizza Que Stone Grill ($90; chefscatalog.com), which bakes thin-crust pies in 10 minutes or less. Use the stone by itself when cooking indoors, or attach it to the stainless steel base for outdoor grilling. To slash fat and calories, Weir uses a small amount of flavorful cheese, like smoked mozzarella, then loads on fresh toppings.
* Pound it out To create quick-cooking (we're talking two minutes per side!) chicken cutlets, get your hands on the Norpro Meat Pounder ($19; broadwaypanhandler.com). Unlike spiky tenderizers, which are best for tough, thick cuts, the Norpro's flat surface won't tear thinner pieces. It's also an easy way to stretch your food budget: "Buy a whole pork tenderloin, slice it into medallions, and pound them out," suggests Aida Mollenkamp, the host of the Food Network's Ask Aida. "The same amount of meat can serve about six people rather than four."
* Go grill crazy If you don't have space for the outdoor style or would rather not fire it up for a quick supper for one, consider a countertop version. The seriously updated George Foreman 360 Degree Grill ($130; target .com) has even more eat-smart options than its predecessors. The interchangeable plates can be used to make quesadillas, omelets, and pancakes, and you can adjust the hinge to keep thicker meats or veggies from getting squashed.
get more fresh produce If you don't always eat enough fruits and vegetables because preparing them requires more work than, say, opening a bag of chips, these devices will have you noshing in no time.
* Squeeze in some vitamin C "I like citrus squirted on my salads instead of vinegar," says Marie Simmons, the author of the Sur la Table cookbook Things Cooks Love. "It tastes less harsh, so I don't need as much oil to counter the flavor." The Amco 2-in-l Lemon & Lime Squeezer ($22; kitchenkapers. com), above right, fits lemons and limes and makes it easier to extract more juice than you'd get doing it by hand. A few drizzles add zip to cooked vegetables and grilled meat or fish with practically zero calories.
* Simplify soups The Bosch Mixxo Cordless Immersion Blender ($130; boschhome.com for stores) makes whipping up fruit smoothies a breeze--the sturdy blending cup comes with a tight lid, so your creations can go straight into the refrigerator or your lunch bag--but our favorite way to use it is for healthy vegetable soups. For a hearty main course, simmer chopped carrots, onions, potatoes, and ginger in vegetable or chicken broth until soft. Pop the Mixxo into the pot and puree to get a rich, creamy texture. To serve, top each bowl with fresh herbs and a dollop of lowfat Greek yogurt.
* Peel like a pro "When you use a knife to peel, you often cut too far down, wasting part of the food," says chef Joanne Chang, the owner of Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston. But with different blades for hard veggies, like potatoes and cucumbers, and soft fruits, like kiwis and peaches, the Prepara Trio Tri-Blade Peeler ($15; prepara.com), below, solves the problem. (Eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies ensures you get the most vitamins and cancer-fighting antioxidants from your diet.) A third attachment juliennes veggies like carrots and jicama. Use this blade to make a side salad that's a change of pace from the usual leafy greens: Toss thin strips of cucumber, carrot, and daikon with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, scallions, and a pinch of sugar, suggests Chang.
* Slice with style Do you avoid buying whole pineapples and melons because they're such a chore to cut up? If so, you could be missing big health benefits. "Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that aids digestion," says Dana Angelo White, R.D., who tests recipes for healthyeats .com. "And a recent study found that carotenoids, such as the beta-carotene found in cantaloupe, may reduce the risk of premenopausal breast cancer," she adds. The Norpro Grip-EZ Melon/Pineapple Cutter ($20; target .com), far left, tackles fruit fast. Trim a thin slice off both ends, put one end on a cutting board, then hold the handles so the blades rest on top of the fruit and push down firmly. You'll get 12 wedges with one stroke.
JULIE O'HARA is a freelance writer in Chicago.
Top chef's go-to ingredients
The pros eat healthy too--but never sacrifice flavor. These are the good-for-you staples.they swear by.
1 ASSORTED OLIVES The savory orbs provide a dose of disease-fighting monounsaturated fat. "I warm them in a skillet with lemon zest, garlic, crushed red pepper, rosemary, and oregano," says TV host Joanne Weir.
2 SRIRACHA Made from Thai chiles and garlic, the low-cal condiment has a better balance of acidity and heat than most hot sauces, says Todd Stein, the executive chef of Cibo Matto in Chicago.
3 MUSTARD With just five calories per teaspoon, this tangy spread is too flavorful to be used only for sandwiches, says TV host Aida Mollenkamp. "I toss it with veggies and a little olive oil."
4 EDAMAME Soybeans have 4 grams of fiber and 25 percent of your daily iron per half cup. "Boil them in the pod and toss them with salt, or use them out of the shell in salads," says chef Joanne Chang.
5 BULGUR Just simmer this easy-to-cook grain for five minutes, or until tender, and drain, says author Marie Simmons. "I use it for pilaf dishes in the winter and tabbouleh salads in the summer."
O'Hara, Julie. "Get your kitchen diet-ready: forget rigid meal plans! A few smart tools make it easier than ever to eat right and lose stubborn pounds." Shape Nov. 2009: 42+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2009.
Gale Document Number:A210931530
Disclaimer:This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.
(Album / Profile) http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=10034&id=1661531726&l=0b77e26203