Kitchen Focus

Cooking healthy meals, snacks and desserts can be simple if you have the right tools at your disposal. So this month, in our final chapter in a series of articles on living a healthier lifestyle, we look at some tools that you can use in your kitchen to help do just that.

It sounds corny, but the truth is that you can cook foods that are lower in fat, higher in fiber and just generally better for you by simply changing some of the equipment you use in your kitchen. Whether it's swapping a nonstick skillet for the non-coated pan you've been using or lining your bakeware with parchment paper instead of coating it with shortening, little steps like these can drastically reduce the fat in your diet if you add them all up. After all, it just takes one tablespoon of cooking oil to set you back 120 calories.

In an effort to help you put together a healthier kitchen, here is a list of items that can be handy in a healthy kitchen:

  • Nonstick cookware: You can use little or no fat when you use this type of pan. In fact, try using a little broth when cooking with it to add a little flavor with little or no fat.
  • Parchment Paper: A must for baking; add a little nonstick cooking spray for very sticky items.
  • Steamer: Great for vegetables, fish and more.
  • Immersion Blender: Use to thicken sauces and soups by blending vegetables instead of adding fat.
  • Microwave: Great for basically steaming food quickly and easily. Maintains more nutrients!
  • Oven: Broil, bake or roast your foods as the fat drips away from the racks it cooks on.
  • Rice Cooker: Make great brown rice without fuss; many models also have a steamer attachment!
  • Salad Spinner: Yes, you can use it to help clean greens for great salads, but line it with paper towels and spin ingredients that hold too much fat (bacon, potatoes, etc.) and you'll greatly reduce the fat. Then use such ingredients sparingly ... just to season.

There you have it. Spend a little time favoring equipment in your kitchen that can help you cook healthier meals and you'll find your efforts to live healthier become part of your daily routine. And isn't that what we are all seeking anyway?

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .