From the food you stock in the freezer to the silverware you put on the table, your kitchen is your partner in health. When you fill your kitchen with the right tools and foods, you reap the benefits.
If your kitchen isn't your ally, changing it may be easier than you think.
The foods you should stock—fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, and whole grains—taste just as good and can be cooked just as quickly as less wholesome choices that lurk in your cupboard and refrigerator. Updating cookware—by trading the deep fryer for a slow cooker, for instance—can aid healthy cooking, too.
In fact, you can redo every nook and cranny of your kitchen. Here's how.
When you're faced with larger portions, you're more apt to overeat. Your dinnerware may be one of the culprits. Plate sizes have increased over the years, and it makes it harder to judge how much you've eaten. Even the shape of drinking glasses makes a difference. A tall thin glass can make you feel like you're getting more than a short wide one.
If you cook with fat so your food doesn't stick, trade up to nonstick cookware. You can get the flavor of fat with far fewer calories by adding a little olive oil cooking spray to nonstick cookware. A bit of vegetable broth can also take the place of oil.
Match the capacity of your cookware to your family size. If you use a large pot for a twosome, you may be tempted to cook, and eat, more food.
Slow cookers are a boon to your health because you don't have to brown food in fat before cooking, as some of us do for taste and appearance. If cooking in the evening leads to unwanted snacking, use your slow cooker during the day so you'll have a wholesome meal waiting for you.
Government dietary guidelines call for eating 2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day. Along with dark green and orange vegetables, add beans to your menus.
With canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, and beans on hand, you're set for instant dinners. Mix different types of beans with some vegetables and spices for a quick meal. Read labels on cans to avoid high sodium and sugar levels.
Small changes can bring big results. You may not be willing to get rid of cookies, but you can keep healthier varieties on hand. Choose instead gingersnaps, graham crackers, or vanilla wafers.
Avoid crackers, cookies, and chips made with saturated or hydrogenated fats. Many food manufacturers have changed formulas to remove unhealthy fats.
Stock your refrigerator with low-fat dairy foods and keep high-sodium processed meat to a minimum.
You may have to choose between more prep time or more expensive cleaned and pared fruits and vegetables. It's up to you whether the money matters more than the convenience. You may be more likely to eat it if you don't have to work hard to prepare it.
Frozen dinners may be one of your evening mainstays. You don't have to give them up as long as you select varieties low in sodium and fat. Read the label to check portion size and nutrient content.
You can also assemble a fast meal if you have frozen vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, along with frozen fish fillets.