As a chef and food writer, there isn’t a kitchen tool or gadget I haven’t tried. From an electric egg slicer to a miniature crepe maker, I’ve tried them all. In the end, I’ve realized there are only a few tools worthy of my precious kitchen drawers.
While the three fundamental tools in my kitchen are a sharp knife, a flat cutting board and a good frying pan, I’ve learned that there are a few other tools that help me cook — and therefore eat — healthier. Here are the top-five kitchen tools I use, especially when I want to drop a few pounds.
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1. MEASURING SPOONS
These aren’t just for measuring ingredients in recipes. Measuring spoons are a great way to exercise portion control and help count calories easily. If you can’t imagine a bowl of oatmeal without brown sugar or prefer your eggs scrambled in a bit of butter, using measuring spoons helps to ensure you don’t wind up blowing your calorie budget on condiments.
The difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon can add up to quite a bit at the end of the day, so using your measuring spoons takes all the doubt out of the process.
2. KITCHEN SCALE
For larger items that couldn’t possibly fit in a measuring spoon, it’s ideal to have a small kitchen scale handy. They cost less than $40, but their value is immeasurable. Use them to portion proteins or get an exact measurement on grains and cheeses, which can quickly add calories. It’s also handy for making recipes based on weight rather than volume, because, let’s be honest: Who really knows what 11 ounces of brown rice looks like?
3. SLOW COOKER
Slow cookers are as much a weight-loss tool as a busy person’s best friend. In short, they’re the easiest way to make sure a meal is ready when you are. From morning oatmeal to weekend soups to lean meats that are fork-tender because they’ve been braised for hours, the slow cooker is the one plug-in tool you can’t live without.
And let’s not forget about beans! Beans cooked in the slow cooker turn out perfectly tender without losing their shape, making it an ideal tool for vegetarians or anyone looking to cut down on their meat intake. All this convenience means no more scrambling when you hit the door starving and decide to grab whatever is in front of you due to a momentary plunge of low-blood sugar. Marinate or prep the items in the pot the night before then set-it and forget-it as you rush out the door in the morning.
4. MINI FOOD PROCESSOR
Food processors have always been a helpful kitchen tool, but sometimes you don’t need to whirl, chop and blend quite that amount. It’s also a heavy piece of machinery to simply chop a cup or two of almonds. This is where a mini food processor comes in.
It’s an easy and fast way to get the same effect without all the mass and bulk crowding the kitchen counter. Whirl some yogurt with herbs for a quick dipping sauce or chop onions and celery in a flash for the base of a quick pasta sauce. There are endless ways to utilize this tool in the kitchen, at a fraction of the counter space.
5. COLLAPSIBLE STEAMER
Whether you’re cooking in-season squash chunks or defrosting frozen broccoli to be dressed in a lemony vinaigrette, cooking vegetables in a collapsible steamer is the fastest, healthiest and simplest way to get vegetables hot and tender.
It’s ready to go in the time it takes to boil an inch of water and it folds up to the size of salad plate when it’s done. Steaming means that all those lovely nutrients stay in the food rather than left behind in the water. For just a few bucks, it might be the cheapest kitchen tool you use everyday.
What’s your favorite cooking tool? Comment below!