Most of us know which foods to avoid and which to keep on hand if we're trying to stay slim. But what about the kitchen gadgets we should have at the ready? Stocking your home with the right prep and cook tools is a key step in keeping those extra pounds away.
You probably already own a food processor and blender, but here are some kitchen aids that make it easy to slash calories and fat, picked by Joy Bauer, Today show nutrition expert and author of the new cookbook Slim and Scrumptious; Lauren Deen, author of Cook Yourself Thin Faster; and celebrity trainer Kathie "High Voltage" Dolgin.
This handheld tool lets
you whip up smoothies in the glass and purée soups right in the pota get-thin trick, since research shows that having low-cal soup before a meal helps you eat less. "I use asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and squash," Bauer says. "They’re high in volume, low in calories, and you get that luxurious texture. Beans work well, too."
We like: Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender ($60; newegg.com)
It’s great for cooking vegetables without adding oiland for keeping most of the nutrients. This inexpensive item "can also steam fish," Deen
says. We like: Martha Stewart Vegetable Steamer ($13; macys.com)
Fill it with canola or olive oil, and it will save you "significant calories," Bauer notes. "Even healthy oils can add weight. For example, every tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. With a mister, you can cover the whole bottom of a pan with just a teaspoon of oil."
We like: Prepara Tabletop Mister ($20; prepara.com)
This ingenious (and inexpensive!) invention removes the core and cuts apples into convenient wedges in a single stroke, so you can bag them up and take them with you. "It makes you much more likely to snack on fruit," Dolgin says.
We like: OXO Good Grips Apple Divider ($10; macys.com)
"Cutting fresh herbs can be messier than measuring out dried. This is a great tool to make it easier," Dolgin raves. Why use fresh herbs? "They give amazing flavor to food, so you can skip extra salt that bloats you," she adds.
We like: Microplane Herb Mill ($20; amazon.com)
"I like it for grating cheeseyou end up using less," Deen says. Itâs also handy for grating small amounts of chocolate. Bauer makes citrus zest with hers: "You can use the zest in banana bread, in sauces for fish, even burgers. Itâs calorie-free but gives food a lot of punch."
We like: Microplane Classic Series Premium Zester/Grater ($12; amazon.com)
This makes it easy to chop veggiesno more excuses for not getting your five-plus slimming fruits and veggies a day. "I use it to chop carrots, water chestnuts, red bell pepper, and celery," Bauer says. Unlike a food processor, it will also chop nuts without turning them into paste.
We like: OXO Good Grips Chopper($12; zappos.com)
Invest in a good pair and keep them sharp: "They make it easy to cut the fat off chicken, trim vegetables, cut pizza, and snip herbs," Deen says. The flavor of herbs, Bauer says, "more than makes up for whatâs not going in your foodlike butter and salt." We like: J.A. Henckels International Take Apart Kitchen Shears ($15; amazon.com)
Avoid overdoing it with these
In the last few decades, the average dinner plate has grown from 8 1⁄2 inches to 12 inches! Make sure yours are closer to 9 inchesabout the size of today’s salad plate. "That’s my dinner plate," Dolgin says. "If it doesn’t fit on a salad plate, I’m not eating it." We like: Crate and Barrel Helix Blue Salad Plate ($7; crateandbarrel.com)
Small glasses and espresso cups
Deen uses them to serve puddings and chocolate mousse: "They look pretty and satisfy your sugar cravingbut you control the calories." We like: Pier 1 Imports Tasting Party Collection ($1-30; pier1.com)