Stock your kitchen with these 8 tools and small appliances to pump up the flavor of your meals, boost nutrition and whittle away at unhealthy fats and sodium.
Oil pump mister. You’ll use less oil and save both calories and fat with this pressurized spray bottle. Fill it with your favorite cooking oil. Sauté or stir-fry foods with a thin coating of oil sprayed into the pan. Or spray the oil directly on oven-fried chicken or fish right before baking to get an even crispy coating.
Immersion blender. You’ll love using this hand-held stick blender right in the cooking pot. Add thickness to soups with pureed potatoes, cauliflower or butternut squash. Your prize is a velvety, creaminess without the artery-clogging saturated fat! This is a great tool for smoothies and sauces too.
Herb scissors. Turn everyday cooking into delicious meals with fresh herbs. With herb scissors, you simply snip and sprinkle. Sage, rosemary and thyme placed under the skin of a chicken infuses the whole bird. Liven up tuna salad with fresh dill or spaghetti sauce with snipped basil. Your creations are limitless. And the bonus is more flavor with less salt.
Rice cooker. A rice cooker multi-tasks to cook oatmeal, wheat berries, barley and other whole grains. Add your grain and reduced-sodium broth, and let the cooker do its thing. You can tend to other parts of the meal, go workout or even read a book because the rice cooker turns itself one when the grain is cooked. Make extra whole grains and portion them into diabetes-friendly servings. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. To reheat them, add a few tablespoons of water or broth and heat in the microwave.
Gravy separator. Collect the juices from any roasted beef, chicken or turkey. Pour the liquid into the gravy separator, and watch the fat rise to the top. Because of the gravy separator’s unique design, you can capture just the flavorful liquid on the bottom and discard the unhealthy layer of fat.
Zester/Grater. Nothing brightens up food like a sprinkle of orange, lemon or lime zest (the outer colored part of the peel). Add citrus zest to plain brown rice, quinoa, roasted asparagus or any favorite vegetable. This gadget is perfect for Parmesan cheese and chocolate too. Grate just a bit of cheese over salads and vegetables. For a quick decadent dessert, grate dark chocolate over sliced strawberries. You’ll get a burst of flavor for a small amount of cheese or chocolate, allowing you to save calories and saturated fats.
Juicer. Use this to get flavor from the rest of your citrus fruit. A juicer is a quick, easy tool to get juice without the seeds. Add a tablespoon to soups and stews. Or toss steamed green vegetables with citrus juice to give your dish a flavor boost without using salt.
Slow cooker. This is a huge timesaver, especially if, when you walk in the door, it’s already dinnertime. Plan and prep your recipe the night before. In the morning, place it all in the slow cooker insert and turn it on. You don’t need to think about it again until you’re ready to eat dinner. Use a slow cooker liner for speedy clean up.
Bonus: Infusion pitcher. This is not really a must-have. You can flavor your water with any type of pitcher, but this is pretty and nice. Add your favorite fruits, herbs and vegetables to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for a refreshing drink without the carbohydrates and calories. Try cucumber and mint or orange and lemon slices. Or be a bit more exotic with strawberries, lime and rosemary or peaches and basil. No matter how you flavor it, water is a more healthful choice than blood sugar-spiking soda and sweet tea.