December 12, 2009

Beachbody’s Gift Guide for the Healthy Chef

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:17 PM by lanaholt

By Denis Faye (source: http://teambeachbody.com/about/newsletters/-/nli/149#37656285)

Gift giving can be tough when the person you’re buying for is in the middle of a life-altering round of P90X® or INSANITY. Clothing sizes keep changing, as do tastes. Sure, she might cast off that muumuu for a two-piece, but no gift says “presumptuous” like a bikini. Sure, he may need some new dumbbells, but odds are he’ll be on to the 45-pounders before he even takes the ribbon off the 30-pounders you bought him

However, one thing that’s not going to change is your giftee’s newfound appreciation of healthy eating. Face it, if he or she wants to stay fit, there’s just no place in his or her life for that deep-fat turkey fryer anymore. It’s time for some new culinary toys.

Here are a few ideas.

Steamer. Short of eating them raw, steaming veggies is the best way to prepare them without processing away all the nutrients. It’s also the best way to preserve the taste of fresh produce. If you spend all season growing asparagus in your garden, don’t you want to know what it actually tastes like instead of stir-frying away all the flavor?

If you don’t want to spring for a fancy All-Clad® multi-piece set-up, inexpensive. little pop-up steamers can work inside just about any pot or saucepan.

How much? $10 and up.

Microwave steamer. Like a normal steamer, only cheaper and faster. Oh, and you need a microwave to use with it. For anyone eating healthy on the go, this is a must-have.

How much? $10 to $20.

Indoor electric grill. As healthful as steaming can be, admittedly, it gets a little, well, BORRRINGG! An indoor grill is a great way to have all the fun of a BBQ without the . . . what am I saying? Indoor grills aren’t even as remotely fun as BBQs, but they’re a healthy way to prepare food that allows grease and fat to drip away. And if you get the kind with the top that presses down, it makes excellent panini, which you can’t make on a BBQ.

How much? $30 to $150.

Nonstick cookware. Although the safety of nonstick cookware occasionally comes into doubt, as long as you take care of it, you should be fine. Just don’t scrape off bits of the coating to season your omelet. And if it starts to flake, it’s done. Get rid of it.

Also, keep in mind that price doesn’t always indicate quality. A few years ago, Cook’s Illustrated rated a number of nonstick pans, only to discover their favorite was the Farberware® Millennium Skillet, which you can pick up for around $40.

How much? Varies greatly.

Oil sprayer. Oil in a spray can is pretty common nowadays. It’s a great way to keep cooking fats to a minimum. But before you go out and buy another preloaded aerosol can, remember that real chefs prefer pump-spray bottles. Not only do they allow you to use your own gourmet oils, they’re also reusable, which is good for the earth.

How much? $7 to $15.

Hot-air popcorn popper. Sure, recent reports indicate that movie-theater popcorn is basically death in a tub with butter flavoring squirted over it, but that’s the coconut oil and sundry hideous chemicals doing the damage, not the actual corn itself. Enjoy it in its purest, white, and fluffy form, popped via hot air only, and 3 cups will equal 40 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 3 grams of fiber.

Not man enough to eat your popcorn straight? Add a quick spritz of olive or canola oil using your new oil sprayer (see above) and a dash of salt, and you’re good to go with minimum guilt.

How much? $20 to $35.

Bread machine. In the wrong hands, a bread machine is a majorly destructive force in any nutrition plan, but used for good, it can be a great way to get fresh, whole grain, preservative-free starches into your diet. And, like many things on this list, it’s fun.

How much? $60 to $200.

Salad spinner. I don’t know if owning a salad spinner will prompt you to eat more salad, but it’ll make cleaning salad more fun. It’s also a great way to get kids interested in leafy greens.

How much? $20 to $40.

Slow cooker/Crock-Pot®. Often, the time it takes to cook good food is what takes us out of the kitchen and into the T.G.I.Friday’s®. A slow cooker allows you to dump everything in a pot and go about your day without having to monitor your stove. Suddenly, stews, soups, and sauces seem easy, which is a good thing as we settle into winter. Mmmmm, healthy comfort food.

How much? $20 and up. $50 to $60 on average.

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