Jalak Patel, a clinical dietitian with Bon Secours Health System, said when cooking and enjoying meals at home, kitchen gadgets are essential to adopting a healthy lifestyle, as well helping to reduce meal prep time and “batch cooking.”
“Whether you are pressed for time or space, good multipurpose kitchen gadgets offer a cooking solution that combines your favorite kitchen appliances into one,” she said.
Alexis Schulte, a registered dietitian with Trident Medical Center, concurred, saying that rather than deep frying food, kitchen gadgets as crockpots and Instant Pots are making food preparation in the home healthier and easier.
“The access to these gadgets is greater now for the individual consumers, and modern safety features allow such an item as the Instant Pot to be used with peace of mind,” explained Schulte. “There are websites that have recipes for making healthy food with today’s kitchen gadgets.”
The experts say food choppers are handy for tedious chores such as mincing garlic and uniformly chopping vegetables, and they come in manual or electric versions. Smaller, lighter and less expensive choppers make quick work of cutting up small batches of nuts or herbs that would get lost in a food processor.
The best food processor should be able to slice, shred, grate and chop vegetables, some fruits, and cheeses and nuts. It’s also useful to pulse flour and butter into dough for pizza or bread. The food processor looks much like the original version that was available in the 1970s. However, newer versions offer more features, including improved blades and accessories.
A good blender should be able to easily process all the ingredients you put into it, including ice, nuts and frozen fruits, without affecting the motor or blades. A countertop blender is great for making smoothies, sauces and homemade salad dressings.
An all-in-one convection oven/air fryer allows the home cook to make foods that have that desired crunch of fried foods without the extra calories and messy cleanup, according to Patel.
“The combination full-size toaster oven has a built-in air fryer for a healthier way to fry. In addition to baking, broiling and toasting, the compact cooker makes delicious vegetables with lighter texture and less fat than deep-fried.”
Multicookers combine your favorite kitchen appliances into one, so you can prepare foods in various ways, including pressure cooking and steaming, cooking rice and making yogurt. It’s important to evaluate the size, cooking functions, ease of use and safety features when choosing a multicooker.
“I have recently swapped out my crockpot and rice cooker for an Instant Pot because it functions as both,” Patel said. “The Instant Pot increases the speed of cooking by the ‘set it and forget it’ feature. It also has the pressure cooking function and is great for beans, whole grains and braising leaner cuts of meats.”
“Making homemade soups and stews instead of buying ready to eat cans reduces dietary sodium,” she added, pointing out that there are a wealth of delicious recipes available online and recommending www.eatingwell.com.
“I think people are genuinely interested in improving their health,” Patel opined. “Research suggests people who prepare foods at home eat healthier. They consume fewer calories, less saturated fats and sodium, while consuming more fiber, vitamins and minerals per meal. Kitchen gadgets such as the multipurpose cookers make cooking easier and help families improve their health.”
Schulte offered, “The idea is to stay away from added fats and cooking in oils. Healthy cooking means simple ingredients. The Instant Pot is great for families who want to save time. You can place food in the pot, and it’s done in 45 minutes to an hour.”
Both experts advise to consider the space that your kitchen has to accommodate kitchen gadgets and to research individual brands.
“If you are new to cooking, you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on gadgets. Start with the lower-end models, and research the best quality for the price you are willing to spend,” Patel said.
By John Torsiello