Double Agents: 6 Healthy Cooking Tools
Secret MultitaskersRice Cooker
It's not just for making white rice, a nutritionally inferior starch that's little more than carbs and calories.
Steam 'chokes. Cut off the top third of an artichoke and trim the stem and any thorny tips from the outer leaves. Rub half a lemon over the cut edges to prevent browning. Add three-quarters of a cup of water to the cooker, place the artichoke in the steamer basket (if your cooker doesn't come with one, find a basket with feet that fits), cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes, or until leaves pull off easily. Try this with other veggies, too -- carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, you name it! Steaming retains more nutrients than boiling, Forberg says.
Prep good-for-you grains. Cook quinoa or barley to fluffy perfection with the press of a button -- no stirring needed. Whole grains can have more than twice the satiating protein and four times as much heart-healthy fiber as white rice, Bazilian says. For a flavor boost, cook them in a mixture of one part coconut milk to two parts vegetable broth or water, suggests Heidi Swanson, a chef and the author of Super Natural Every Day.
Poach fruit. Halve and core or pit peaches or pears, place them in the rice cooker and pour in enough wine or juice to cover. Add a cinnamon stick or orange zest for flavor, cover and cook 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender when pierced. Serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar for an elegant low-fat dessert.Ramekins
Think beyond creme brulee! These cute cups serve up wholesome fare -- no blowtorch required.
Build mini meals. Produce individual potpies, mac and cheese, and lasagna (psst -- use a circular cookie cutter on lasagna noodles) to keep yourself in check without testing your willpower. Bonus: The dishes go from oven to table, so cleanup is a snap.
Portion out munchies. A four-ounce ramekin holds exactly a half-cup serving of ice cream, so you can use one to eat Ben & Jerry's without polishing off the pint. Or fill it halfway with almonds and dried cranberries for a 150-calorie snack. Studies show that using a smaller serving dish can trick your brain into being satisfied with fewer calories.
Zap an egg sandwich. For a stick-to-your-ribs (not your thighs) breakfast, mist a ramekin with olive oil, add two egg whites, and nuke for 15-second intervals until set, Alexander says. Scrape around the edge with a knife to remove; serve on a whole wheat English muffin with turkey bacon and cheddar.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2013.
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