Whether you’re just trying to eat better, or if you’re embarking on a diet to lose weight or improve your health, equipping your kitchen with the right tools will help you with your efforts to prepare more nourishing foods. The following products can assist with portion control and healthy cooking techniques.
For more on healthy cooking, take a look at our interview with Annemarie Colbin, founder of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City.
This little gadget is a healthy cook's secret weapon. Pour healthy olive oil, grapeseed oil or nut oil into the reservoir, give the lid a few pumps, and you can spray a fine mist of oil to grease a pan, coat a pan, dress a salad or spritz some popcorn. Because the oil droplets are so finely distributed, you get the benefits of flavor and mouthfeel without consuming a large quantity of fat. The Misto can also be used for vinegars, juice or other liquids.
Steaming is a super-healthy way to prepare many types of vegetables and fish, without having to use oil. This steamer insert has a specially designed tapered base that fit into most pans that have a 6- to 8-inch diameter. Made from 18/8 stainless steel, it has a surprisingly generous capacity and a tight-fitting lid so that steam doesn't escape and food cooks efficiently. (Read more about food steamers
Slim & Sage
These gorgeous plates have an elegant design and the look and feel of fine china, but they have a little secret: within the swirling geometric pattern is a guide to portioning out your dinner in the healthiest way possible. The pattern visually divides the plate into quadrants, so you can fill half the plate with vegetables, one-quarter with whole grains, and one-quarter with lean proteins. What's more, the plates are 9 inches in diameter, smaller than today's oversized dinner plates but the same size as the typical plate up until the 1960s, so the more sensible portions will fill the plate and help your mind feel satisfied. It's a simple concept, but it just might work: according to the company, the plates can reduce caloric intake by nearly 60 percent.
If you're used to eyeballing a portion of cereal, soup or rice into your bowl, you might be surprised at how much you're overestimating your serving size and eating more calories than you think. This MeasureUp bowl will set you on track: One of the bowls in this two-piece set has grooves inside the bowl to indicate 1/2-, 1, 1 1/2-, and 2-cup servings, while the smaller bowl measures 1/4- 1/2- and 3/4-cup amounts perfect for snacks or higher-calorie foods like nuts, granola or ice cream. The convenient product eliminates the need to use (and get dirty) a measuring spoon, since you can measure into and eat from the same bowl.
A kitchen scale
can also help you make sure that you're eating an appropriate portion, and if you're using a food tracking program (like About.com's own CalorieCount) it can help you more accurately log what you're eating. One good option is the OXO Good Grips Kitchen Scale. It has a backlit display and a 5-pound capacity. The display is on a wire and pulls away from the base so that you can still see it even if you're putting a large plate or bowl on the scale.
If you can't afford a fancy Vitamix blender
, the Ninja Professional is far more affordable and nearly as effective. It has a powerful, 1000-watt motor and an unusual stacked blade design that efficiently processes the entire contents of the jar, with minimal scraping-down needed. The blender is a great tool for healthy eating as you can use it to make nutritious smoothies (one to try: Vanilla-Orange Power Smoothie
), creamy vegetable soups and other healthy homemade foods.