7 Kitchen Must-Haves for Better Meal Planning

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Meal planning is important. Not only is it the best way to ensure a healthy diet, but you will find it easier to lose weight and save money. When you plan out your meals, you can ensure you get all your nutrients, know precisely what you will eat each day, and only buy the food you need for the week. The offers and special treats are less tempting when you get to the store.

However, you need to make sure your kitchen is set up to help you with your meal planning. It needs to be designed to ensure you only buy the ingredients you need, and you can fully work out every meal you will enjoy for the week ahead.

Just what are you going to need for better meal planning? Here are seven items that are necessary for all kitchens.

A Selection of Recipe Books and Stand

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Make sure you have a selection of recipe books to look through. You can also use your iPad or computer to do a little recipe research.

Meal planning can get boring if you keep doing the same things repeatedly. You are more likely to scrap a meal for the night and opt for a takeaway. Alternatively, you end up going to the store and looking for something else to quickly throw in the oven. In some cases, you can entirely skip a meal and just snack throughout the night instead.

Having a selection of recipe books will give you the chance to look through a variety of meals. You can look at specific main ingredient recipes, like pork, chicken, or even vegetarian. It is also possible to look get recipe books for specific meals or for definite diet plans that you are on.

Do not think you need to go out and buy special recipe books. You can do a lot of your research on the computer. Have a folder on your iPad with all your recipes stored, so you can quickly grab and read when you need them. Print out the favorites that you find and create your recipe folder for your needs.

Now you will need a stand in the kitchen. This should be big enough for your recipe books, folder, or the iPad that you are using. Put it somewhere that you can see the recipe while cooking but so that it stays out of the way of splashes from the frying pan or from contamination from the food you chop up. Store the recipe book stand in a cupboard throughout the day, only pulling it out when you need it.

A Binder to Track Your Meal Planning

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Meal planning is not something to do one week and then forget about it. You want to be able to keep track of all your meal planning. It is important to have a binder that allows you to track everything you have made each week. This is also the place to note any changes you made to your plan from one week to another; after all, not everything quite works out the way that you initially intended.

A binder for the cupboard is the best way to track your meal planning. You can store all your tracking sheets for each month. Circle the ones that you loved the most and make a note of the dishes that your friends or family members did not like. Have a system to make sure you can create dishes that guests will be able to eat due to their dietary requirements or their preferences.

When you are at a loss for new meal planning ideas, you will be able to look back over your past plans. Get new and fresh ideas or find ways to adapt certain dishes that you’ve enjoyed (or not) in the past.

The binder can get big, so you will only want to keep six months to a year’s worth of meal plans. After that, make a note of the dishes that you have tried one off and what you thought of them. The best dishes will have already been used on other meal plans.

Have a section in your binder for the seasonal meals. Put together your Christmas dinner list, so you do not have to think about it every year. Put together a list of the treats you make for Halloween. Have a section for the party food you put on frequently.

Have a Fridge Magnet Planner

You want a planner that you can put in the fridge (or on the wall or cupboard door). This needs to be something that the whole family can see. It allows them to make the meal if you cannot, or they can help prepare things in advance when you are at work. By getting everyone involved, you will find it easier to stick to the meal plan.

The planner will also help you glance at the day to see what you are getting for the day. You can make sure you have all the ingredients before you go to work, picking them up on the way home if you need to. However, you should have everything from your weekly shop.

A good meal planner will also have a shopping list section. This is something you will be able to write ingredients you need for your next shop based on the meal plan you have created. You can then just tear off the shopping list and take it with you on the go.

If you choose not to have a family meal planner, make sure you have a shopping list for each trip. This is the key to avoid buying too much or ingredients that you do not need to buy.

Have a White Board for Notes

Ran out of milk? Need to get some more basil during your next shopping trip? Want to leave a note for a family member about your meal plan for the week? Make sure you have a whiteboard for the kitchen or on the way out of the door. This is the place to put all your notes and a last-minute shopping list after realizing you have run out of something you were not expecting to.

People will see the notes. They can pick up things for you, or they can make a note of something for you.

The whiteboard is something that is always reusable. Once an item has been bought, it can be rubbed off, and you can add a new item as and when you need one.

It is also worth having a whiteboard calendar in the house. This will allow you to keep track of any birthday parties or nights that some family members are not going to be in the house. You can track the busiest nights to make sure easier meals are planned. With the calendar, it is much easier to work ahead of the game and ensure everyone is included in the plan.

The calendar is also the place for hot meal days at school or school trips. You will know the days that you do not need to plan a packed lunch or when you need to make extra for whatever reason. There is no need to panic on the day of the trip that you have forgotten about something.

Containers for the Leftovers

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You want to plan to make too much of a meal in your planning. That way, one night or two you have a leftover to fall back on. This is great when you have nights that you just do not want to cook. You can also opt for a potluck night or “leftover night” where you put the range of dishes left over from the week of cooking on the table. Everyone gets a little from the week, and he or she get a double dose of their favorites.

To make this possible, you will need containers. You can choose glass, plastic, or any other material that you prefer. Make sure the material is good for your fridge or freezer. Opting for glass will help to avoid chemicals transferring into your meals and will mean you can heat straight from the dish. Plastic containers are not usually oven safe.

Keep your containers stored together. Often, you end up with lids going missing.

Plastic containers are also good for your lunches. You can make sure people go to school or work with the dishes that have been planned for wherever they are.

The tubs can also be used for some pre-prep work. As soon as you get back from the store, prepare as much as you can in advance. Chop up the vegetables, so they are ready for your next meal. Make up your smoothies in advance, so you can just grab and go. There are going to be some meals you cannot prep in advance, but get as much done as you can. You will find it much easier when it comes to sticking to your meal plan since there is left to do on the night in question.

Get a Slow Cooker

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One of your best friends in meal planning is the slow cooker. You can put it on before you go to work and your dinner is ready when you return. If people are hungry before you get home because your job requires long hours, they can serve their own, but you can have the same dish and not have to worry about reheating.

Make sure you invest in a slow cooker. It will be your third arm when it comes to cooking and planning in advance. You can make roast dinners, curries, stews, and so much more. Plan with the slow cooker in mind. Think about the days that you know you do not have time and look for slow cooker dishes that you can come home to.

Do not forget to stock up on slow cooker liners too. These are placed in the slow cooker, so all your ingredients go into them. They are like the oven bags that can help you infuse roast chickens with plenty of flavors.

You can pull out the liner at the end, and your slow cooker is still clean. It will just need a quick wipe down, and you will be able to put it away. There is no need to dread the cleaning of your slow cooker at the end of your meal! These are great if you want to use your slow cooker straight away for another meal the next night. You put in another liner, and you are ready to go!

Do Not Forget a Powerful Blender

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Smoothies, soups, and many other dishes will require some blending. A powerful blender is the way to go. It will make your meal prepping a lot easier.

Opt for one that will chop up ice. Look out for a blender that can deal with any ingredient you want to use. You can also look for one that will help with the chopping of your vegetables. You will be able to speed up the process of the chopping, so you can get on with the cooking of your dishes.

When meal prepping goes faster, you will find it easier to stick to your meal plan. You will not think so much about the hard work and will be able to just get on with things.

If you only make smoothies for yourself, you can also stock up on something like the Nutri Bullet. This will make one portion of a smoothie, making sure you do not end up overeating by accident.

Stock Up on the Right Kitchen Items

Meal planning is more than just jotting down a few ideas and then making them on the night. You will need to have the right tools to plan and then store your prepped food or leftovers. The seven items above will help you do all this. You will be able to plan new and fresh dishes, get prepared early, and have the right tools to make planning a breeze.

Are you ready to start meal planning? Would you like to get into good habits? Stock up on the above, and you will find it easier.

10 Dry Skin Fixes From Your Kitchen – Infographic

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Kitchen Therapy: Cooking Up Mental Well-Being

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At the end of a long workday, one of my favorite ways to unwind is by slicing and dicing vegetables for dinner. The steady chop, chop, chop of my knife against the cutting board quiets my mind and soothes my soul. Cooking is meditation with the promise of a good meal afterward.

Avid cooks have long recognized the therapeutic power of kitchen time. “Preparing a meal is unlike anything else I do in the course of a day,” says food writer Ellen Kanner, author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost. “It’s a nourishing, centering act that gets me to slow down and focus.”

Now culinary therapy is the treatment du jour at a growing number of mental health clinics and therapists’ offices. It’s being used as part of the treatment for a wide range of mental and behavioral health conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD and addiction.

Recipe for a Healthy Mind

One obvious link between cooking and mental health is nutrition. It’s easier to control the quality of your diet when you prepare much of the food yourself. And there’s growing recognition that choosing a high-quality diet plays a major role in keeping your brain healthy.

The title of a recent editorial in The Lancet Psychiatry says it all: “Nutritional Medicine as Mainstream in Psychiatry.” It’s a concept that sounds more revolutionary than it probably should. Lead author Jerome Sarris, Ph.D., and his colleagues note that the brain operates at a very high metabolic rate, slurping up a supersized portion of the body’s total energy and nutrient intake.

Research has established a link between brain health and several nutrients, including omega-3 fats, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and amino acids. To make sure that your brain is getting enough of these vital nutrients, it helps to know exactly what you’re feeding it.

A Dash of Mindfulness

In addition, the very process of cooking can nourish your psychological well-being. Marriage and family therapist Lisa Bahar, LMFT, LPCC, encourages her clients to practice mindfulness in the kitchen. As an example, she describes peeling and sectioning a tangerine for a fruit salad: “Start by observing its skin—the color, the touch, the smell,” she says. Then, as you peel and section the fruit, notice the moment-to-moment sensations, such as the spray of juice when you break through the peel. Finally, pop one of the peeled tangerine sections into your mouth, and savor the juiciness and flavor.

When you’re focusing on the moment this way, you’re not ruminating over past slights or worrying about future problems. Mindfulness also helps reduce stress and promotes greater gusto for life.

A Splash of Appreciation

Once you’ve finished prepping your food, take a moment to reflect on how it reached your kitchen table. In the example of the tangerine, Bahar notes, a seed was planted, a tree grew, the tree blossomed and finally a tangerine appeared. “Then the tangerine was picked, put in a box, transported to a distributor, put in a bag and transported again to a supermarket,” Bahar says. A lot went into bringing the tangerine to you, and appreciating one little orange marvel may help you feel better about life overall.

A Sprinkling of Creativity

For many people, cooking is an outlet for creative expression. “Go off the book,” advises Kanner. “Think of the flavors you gravitate toward, and try using them in different dishes. Also, rather than dashing out to buy a long list of ingredients, be inspired by what you have on hand. It’ll save you time and stress, both of which tend to be barriers to creativity, and guess what? You’ll have developed your own new recipe.” The sense of accomplishment you feel afterward can be a boost for your self-esteem.

A Heaping Spoonful of Joy

It’s easy to dismiss cooking as just another household chore. Yet you may derive a joy from cooking that you simply don’t get from, say, folding laundry or dusting shelves. The reason: Eating is an innately rewarding experience. So cooking, which leads to eating, has a powerful, built-in reward system. To keep fun at the forefront, give yourself permission to play with your food. Kanner says, “People get so hung up on doing a recipe just like Ina Garten or making it come out just like it does on the Cooking Channel. Who says you have to?” Enjoy the process, and don’t worry about perfection.

Mix Well for Connection

Cooking with a partner can spur communication and cooperation. “Getting a meal on the table means putting aside differences and grudges and focusing on the task at hand,” says Kanner. If you don’t have the same food likes and dislikes, it’s also a chance to hone your conflict resolution skills. “You might say, ‘Okay, I know you like potatoes, so let’s make them tonight, but next time, I’d like us to have quinoa,’” Kanner says. The desire to eat sooner rather than later is a powerful incentive to compromise.

Linda Wasmer Andrews specializes in writing about health, psychology and the intersection between the two. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Read more from her blog:
Does Eating Your Carrots Make You More Creative?
Family-Style Meals Are Good for Grown-Ups, Too
Four Brain Benefits From the Farmers’ Market

Want to Lose Weight? Spend More Time in the Kitchen!

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Cooking is an essential part of life, and has been for some time now. The ‘cooking hypothesis,’ although controversial, is believed to explain why Homo erectus emerged in our evolution with larger brains and smaller teeth than earlier species.1 Cooking makes nutrients more available—meat and other tough foods (like fish and some raw vegetables) can be chewed, digested, and absorbed more easily into the body. Some foods must be cooked to get rid of toxins and be edible in the first place, such as raw lima beans. When nutrients are abundant, growth and development is possible.

Today, nutrients are extremely abundant and have been for a while, which may be partly to blame for the rise in obesity. Although we haven’t stopped cooking the food we eat (for the most part), why have we stopped cooking for ourselves? Cooking requires time and knowledge, but the more we leave any and all cooking to the pros, the less knowledge we have of our own and the more time we allocate to other activities (including watching TV). In addition, it seems that the less we cook and prepare our own food, the less we seem to understand overall about the food we eat. Cooking for yourself or others creates an intimacy with food and different ingredients that is difficult to get with pre-cooked or professionally prepared foods.

When fresh foods are prepared in the home, not only is it clear what ingredients we are putting in our bodies, but it also helps give us a sense of proper portion sizes and an overall greater appreciation for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Eating out has consistently been associated with higher calorie intake along with low nutrient intake (think essential vitamins and minerals lacking in processed or fast foods).2 A recent study investigating the effects of children eating > 80% of meals at home versus <80%, with the remaining at preschool, restaurants, or elsewhere, found that children who ate the most other meals at restaurants had the lowest value for dietary adequacy and the highest consumption of cakes, salty snacks, fruit juices and sodas.2 Eating at mostly home or with other meals at preschool was associated with more fruit and vegetable intake. Although the study did not look at BMI or weight data, these results are especially concerning since overweight or obese children are likely to be overweight or obese as adults and subsequently suffer the associated health consequences.

Preparing foods in your own home may not only be waistline friendly, but also essential for you and your family’s health in the long run. It can seem almost impossible these days to find time to cook, or some of us simply just don’t know where to start. However, you can follow these simple tips to get you started:

1. Wash, chop and/or prepare fresh fruits and vegetables immediately after grocery shopping. Short on time? Buy pre-chopped if you’re willing to splurge a couple extra dollars.

2. Always cook for one or two more people than you need, and package up the extra servings to place in the fridge and enjoy at a later time. Prepare a whole meal or extra portion of your main ingredient such as rice, quinoa, chicken, or fish.

3. Buy ingredients like canned beans that won’t go bad for a while as long as you don’t open the package, that way you can wait until you’re in the mood to eat these items and don’t have to worry about throwing anything out.

References:

1.         Miller K. Archaeologists Find Earliest Evidence of Humans Cooking With Fire. 2013; http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/09-archaeologists-find-earliest-evi….

2.         Moreira T, Severo M, Oliveira A, Ramos E, Rodrigues S, Lopes C. Eating out of home and dietary adequacy in preschool children. The British journal of nutrition. Jun 17 2015:1-8.

Appreciation is extended to Katie Bishop for drafting this post

Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist, author and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet and addiction. She received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Psychology from Princeton University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology at The Rockefeller University in New York City. She has published over 70 scholarly journal articles, as well as several book chapters and books, on topics related to food, addiction, obesity and eating disorders. She also edited the books, Animal Models of Eating Disorders (2012) and Hedonic Eating (2015), coauthored the popular book of food and addiction called Why Diets Fail (Ten Speed Press), and recently finished her new book, What to Eat When You’re Pregnant. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eating Disorders Association.

Website: http://www.drnicoleavena.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrNicoleAvena/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNicoleAvena

Top 15 Amazing Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen

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Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen - Top 15 Amazing Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is full of miraculous products that are essentially helpful for you in many ways. There are innumerous things in your kitchen which possess amazing natural properties but you don’t have the right knowledge of those useful things. Today the secrets of amazing kitchen products are revealed amongst you. These things are effective and differently useful in their own ways. Some have benefits for your heart, some have benefits for your skin and others have the power to fight with a number of health disorders.

Here Are Some Of The Interesting Home Remedies In Your Kitchen:

Garlic For Allergies:

Garlic is an amazing product present in your kitchen. It has a lot of benefits for your health. It is prominently very effective on the allergies. Garlic is immensely rich in anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties. So you can try the consumption of garlic whenever you suffer an allergy.

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Yogurt For Dandruff:

Yogurt is very nutritious and amazingly helpful for the proper nourishment of your hair and makes them beautiful. Yogurt proves to be an astonishing home remedy for the eradication of the dandruff from your hair. It contains amazing clarifying properties and adequate moisture in it. So you can try the application of the fresh yogurt on your scalp.

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Ginger For Sore Throat:

Ginger possesses amazingly useful warmth property in it. It is also rich in anti-oxidants and therefore it proves to be an excellent home remedy for the treatment of sore throat easily. So whenever you suffer the problem of sore throat you can consume some ginger juice with warm water.

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Carrot For Eye Health:

Carrot is a very good home remedy for your eyes empowerment. It nourishes your eyes with a lot of vitamins and minerals.

Carrots - Top 15 Amazing Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen

Green Tea For Detoxification:

Green tea is a very good and healthy home remedy for you. The detoxification of the body is very essential for its proper functioning. So you can start drinking a cup of green tea daily.

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Honey For Treating Burns:

Honey possesses amazing vital nutrients which are very essential for you. It can even help you to treat the minor burn on your skin. You can apply some honey on the affected skin for betterment.

Honey - Top 15 Amazing Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen

Lemon Juice For Acne:

Lemon juice contains intense cleansing properties in it. It can help you amazingly to eliminate the acne from your skin. You can apply some lemon juice on the acne on your face.

Lemon Juice - Top 15 Amazing Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen

Almonds For Memory:

Almonds are very nutritious for your health. They are very rich in essential nutrients that are helpful for the nourishment of your brain and also help in the improvement of memory. It helps you to attain a sharpen memory.

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Lettuce For Better Sleep:

Lettuce is very rich in vitamins and minerals. It helps your body to relax and calm. It is very helpful for you to get a better sleep.

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Oatmeal Powder For Blackheads:

Oatmeal powder is again a very good home remedy for you. It contains amazing properties which help you to fight out the blackheads from your face. You can start applying oatmeal powder mixed with some water. Apply it on the blackheads and leave for some time.

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Tomato Juice For Fair Skin:

Tomato is again a very essential veggie in your kitchen. It contains several useful benefits. To get the fairer skin is one of them. You can apply tomato juice on your face to get the fair complexion easily and naturally.

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Cucumber For Dark Circles:

Cucumber is a very good remedy for the treatment of the dark circles. It contains amazing helpful vitamins that are good for your skin nourishment. You can keep cucumber slices on your eyelids for some time and also apply cucumber juice on your face. It helps in fairing your skin.

Cucumber - Top 15 Amazing Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen

Salt Soak For Joints:

Salt is very useful for your joint nourishment. It is known for years and years that salt soak is amazingly and instantly effective in soothing your muscles to get warmth. You can take a bucket of warm water and mix some salt in it. Soak your hands or feet for the relaxation.

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Coffee For Cellulite:

Coffee is a very good and effective home remedy for the reduction of cellulite. You have to take some ground coffee and mix it with warm water. Make a consistent paste of it. Apply this paste on the desired part of body where you want to reduce the cellulite. Massage it for some time.

Coffee - Top 15 Amazing Natural Remedies Present In Your Kitchen

Figs For Insomnia:

Figs are also very useful home remedy for you. They contain amazing boosters of sleep that help you to deal with insomnia. You can start consuming figs in your daily diet to enjoy its benefits. It is also very beneficial for your overall health.

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Kids in the Kitchen

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ss 362492492 dad son cooking kitchen 300x200 - Kids in the KitchenAs a mom of young kids, I know firsthand how challenging healthy eating can be when you are balancing different schedules, moods, likes and dislikes. For my family, one of the best ways to encourage healthy eating is to make time for family meals – not only eating together but cooking together too.

Involving kids in meal prep is a fantastic way to encourage them to try new foods and expand their tastes, but it does take a little preparation. It isn’t always convenient to add kids into the mix – especially if you have a minimal amount of time to get meals on the table. Younger kids may get easily frustrated or impatient if they are tired or hungry themselves. There are a few strategies you can try to keep the process moving along and the kids engaged:

  • Start with dishes that are simple (5 or fewer ingredients for younger kids)
  • Consider doing some prep work in advance – such as washing berries – so there is not a lag between steps
  • Think about your child’s age and what she or he can do independently, such as stirring batter or measuring out ingredients
  • Keep safety in mind – between whirring blenders, hot pans, stovetops and ovens it’s important for children to be aware and take care

And, perhaps one of the most important strategies is to relax and have fun. There will be flour spilled, egg shells in the batter (and perhaps even on the floor), but the time together can be fun and memorable for everyone.

Kids in the Kitchen Cooking Class

You can also join me in my quest to help my family eat more “from scratch” meals. The demonstration kitchen at The American Center is offering a series called Kids in the Kitchen that is designed to help kids get hands on experience preparing healthy snacks and meals their whole family can enjoy.

Here are the details:

October 18: Sugar Busters

Convenience foods are convenient, but often come with too much sugar, and too much sugar can make our kids drag. Join us for a hands-on, parent-child cooking class where we’ll explore how to make tasty snacks and breakfasts without all that sugar. 

November 15: Filling Fiber (focus on breakfast, snacks and lunchbox)

Fiber can make a huge difference in your child’s energy levels. Processed foods typically lack fiber, so in this hands-on, parent-child class we’ll make homemade, high fiber versions of some breakfast, snack and lunch box favorites including Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

 

Equip Your Kitchen for Weight Loss

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shutterstock 223472896 - Equip Your Kitchen for Weight Loss

This is the weight loss blog post you’ve been waiting for all your life. Why? Because it’s not going to tell you to eat less or get more exercise.

It’s about finding new ways to make it easier to build healthier eating habits that, in turn, will help you sustain a healthier body weight.

You know that just about the only way to take total control over what you eat – and therefore your weight – is to prepare your own meals. Today, we list some of the ways you can equip your kitchen to help you do just that:

1. A Variety Ramekins

Ramekins are small porcelain dishes and bowls used to prepare and serve foods.

How Ramekins Help You Lose Weight: When you measure your portions in a ramekin and/or prepare smaller sizes of menu items for different meals, you reduce the chance of you overeating. This is especially helpful when treating yourself to something that isn’t actually on your list of healthy foods!

2. An Oil Mister

Mmmmm, vegetables in oil, eggs in oil, fish fillets in oil. They all sound delicious, but using too much oil in your cooking, even healthier oil with unsaturated fats, can make it tougher to manage your weight. An oil mister lets you apply oil to pots, pans and food in very small amounts that are still enough for cooking, but not enough for weight gain. Mmmmm.

3. Glass Storage Bowls

Even if you really enjoy cooking, the routine of making dinner can turn it into a chore. One way to make it less so is to prepare many meals at once and store them until you’re ready to enjoy them. While plastic containers are very popular, they have drawbacks. Some of them can’t go from the freezer to the microwave and you have to open each one to see what’s inside.

Not only are glass bowls durable from freezing to boiling, their transparency lets you quickly know what’s inside and they resist the stains and odours that can affect the taste of food you store in plastic.

4. A Blender with Single-Serve Cups

From fruit and vegetable smoothies to veggie dips like hummus, blenders are a quick way to create healthy and tasty snacks and treats. The problem is, when you whip up a whole batch, you are tempted to eat it all – or at least more than you should in one go. Find a blender with single serving cups so you can make smaller portions and avoid the temptation.

The nutrition specialists at your local Herbal One Centre can show you many more tips and tricks in the kitchen to help you prepare and eat healthier meals – and shed more pounds.

Source:
http://carrotsncake.com/2015/02/kitchen-tools-that-will-help-you-eat-healthier.html

Primal Transition 101: Insider Kitchen Tips

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Inline Insider Kitchen Tips - Primal Transition 101: Insider Kitchen TipsTransitioning to the Primal Blueprint way of eating should be simple. There’s no need to invent the wheel at every meal. That said, it does likely mean shifting some of your routine in the kitchen. If you’re used to processed food, enjoy getting your hands a little messier. If you’re used to take-out, capitalize on the chance to use your creative skills. (Don’t worry, you’ve got an abundance of recipes and cookbooks right at your fingertips.) That said, all Primal cooks—beginners to old-timers—can make life easier with a few select tactics.

Cook Large Pieces of Protein

We could also call this “Learn to Love Leftovers.” If you’re turning on your oven and cooking something, you might as well make a lot of it. Instead of cooking a pork chop or a chicken breast, cook a pork roast or a whole chicken. Large pieces of protein (e.g. roasts, chickens, salmon filets, etc.) can provide several different meals over the course of a week. Check out this past kitchen tips post for a short primer on how to cook any large cut of meat.

Be Fearless with the Produce

Salads are great. Keep eating them. But don’t use the convenience of pre-washed salad greens as an excuse for neglecting the likes of Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, collards, and other dark, leafy greens. These greens provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and they’re easy to cook. They don’t deserve to get passed up in the produce aisle—or to die a slow death in the bottom of the vegetable crisper.

Here’s what you do: First, swish the leaves in cold water or rinse under running water. Shake the excess water off, but don’t worry about drying the leaves; the moisture will help them cook faster. If the stems are thick and woody, tear the leaves off the stems into bite-sized pieces. The leaves can also be cut into thin ribbons, making the greens less chewy and easier to eat. Add raw greens to soups and stews in the last 10 minutes before serving.

For greens as a side dish, heat a drizzle of oil (or bacon fat) in a skillet, add garlic and sauté 1 to 2 minutes. Add greens a handful at a time, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more. Sauté only about 4 minutes. For softer greens, sauté 4 minutes, then add a ½ cup of stock and saute 5 minutes more. There you go.

Roast, Don’t Steam

Yes, steaming is an easy and healthy way to cook vegetables, but roasting will get you more flavor every time. Buy two rimmed baking sheets—the rims keeps things from dripping or rolling off the sides but are low enough to let air circulate, which means the outside of whatever you are roasting will brown nicely. Cover the baking sheets with parchment paper, which makes clean-up nearly effortless.

Cut veggies the same size so they cook evenly, coat lightly with oil, salt and pepper. Spread the veggies out evenly. This is no time to crowd the pan. Roast at 400º F for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice (cooking time might be longer or shorter depending on the vegetable). Look for lightly browned and crispy on the outside and insides that are easily pierced with a fork. Cook large batches, and eat the roasted veggies all week as a side dish or on salads. You can even puree them for a soup if that’s what you’re in the mood for.

Cut Down on Cooking Times

Want to magically cook great tasting food in a half or a third of the time that it usually takes to cook? (Is there really anyone who would say no to this?) Buy a pressure cooker. A popular, user-friendly brand is Instant Pot, which can quickly make stews, bone broth, curries, short ribs and much, much more. These days, Primal and paleo pressure cooker recipes are easy to find, so you’ll have no shortage of recipes to try.

Meet Two Pots That Make Your Kitchen Life Easier

A cast iron skillet and a Dutch oven are worthy investments. Both will last forever—people pass these things on as heirlooms. Use either to sear meat on the stovetop, then go directly into the oven. A cast iron skillet can be used for any type of vegetable or protein, even a whole chicken. A Dutch oven is a go-to for stoups, stews, braises and roasts.

Never Over-Cook Your Meat

You don’t need a degree in culinary arts to cook a perfect steak. You just need an instant-read meat thermometer. This simple tool helps both beginner and expert cooks know exactly when meat is done. Buy one and use it regularly.

Expand Your Idea of Breakfast

Many a person has been undone by a breakfast rut. Smoothies, eggs, and bacon are great, but you don’t need to eat them every morning. Any and all leftovers in the refrigerator are fair game for breakfast. Sip a mug of hot soup or broth, grab a cold chicken drumstick on your way out the door, eat leftover salmon with a dash of hot sauce, or have a bowl of fresh berries and nuts.

Add Umami in Three Easy Ways

Think of the condiments fish sauce, soy sauce, and coconut aminos as secret ingredients that amp up flavor. Keep a bottle of each in your fridge, and add a drizzle of one or more to soups, stews, chili, and tomato sauce. When you sauté or stir-fry vegetables, add a dash in the last few minutes. Add a tablespoon to marinades for bigger, bolder flavor.

Use One Simple Trick for Tastier, Healthier and More Appealing Food

Let’s be honest: visual appeal matters. And so does the perception of freshness. Herbs are perfect for this. It’s hard to think of a meal that won’t improve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Chefs don’t just sprinkle fresh herbs on dishes because the green color offers a visual “pop.” Herbs also make everything taste fresher and bolder (and they have some fascinating health benefits to boot). Use kitchen shears to snip herbs over almost everything you serve. Parsley is the most versatile herb and keeps well in the refrigerator. Thyme, mint, cilantro and basil are good all around choices, too.

Note Three Ingredients No Cook Should Do Without

There are many types of healthy fats you can, and should, cook with. But here are my go-to basics. Avocado oil is my hands-down favorite for cooking itself because of the high smoke point (and I happen to think it tastes great in salads, too). Two others I always keep on hand are high quality butter and olive oil.

Yes, “good” butter and olive oil are more expensive, but they can be used sparingly after a dish is finished. If your meal tastes a little blah, simply top it with a small pat of really good salted butter or a drizzle of great olive oil. It can make all the difference.

That’s it for today, folks. How’s your transition coming along? What are the kitchen tips you use the most and would offer to beginning Primal types? Thanks for reading.

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The Most Dangerous Appliance in Your Kitchen

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Believe it or not, the most dangerous appliance in your kitchen is the refrigerator. Not because it omits deadly radiation or undetectable fumes from the motor, but because it has single-handedly taken people away from fermenting foods; a mainstay of life for literally thousands of years.

As far as recorded history tells us, most cultures across the globe fermented foods primarily to preserve them. Just like how we use the refrigerator today, fermentation was a means to keep their fresh vegetables from spoiling. Magnificently, our ancestors were actually manufacturing probiotic-rich SuperFoods and enjoyed healthy, long lives because of their labors. Once again, it just goes to tell us that necessity is the mother of all genius!

(scroll down for an amazingly simple fermented vegetable recipe!)

Fermentation 101

Whenever bacteria, yeast or other microorganisms chemically breakdown a substance there is typically an effervescence and some heat that are emitted. This is known scientifically as “fermentation,” the process of converting natural sugars to acids, alcohols and gases. (1)

Fermentation is generally an anaerobic process, meaning that it takes place in an environment where oxygen is not present. However, with enough glucose, various yeasts can produce ethanol in the presence of oxygen. This is known as the Crabtree effect. (2)

Dating back to 8,000 B.C., fermentation techniques to make alcoholic beverages and cause bread to rise are as old as the development of agriculture itself. (3) When it comes to beer, wine and baked goods, yeast microbes are used as the fermenting agent. When it comes to fermenting vegetables, bacteria are used and generally include at least one of the “lacto” species:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus salivarius

Essentially, as long as they have naturally occurring sugars in them, any vegetable can be chemically broken down through a process known as “lacto-fermentation.”

Lacto-Fermentation

Because most plants contain at least one of the lactobacillus strains of bacteria, “lacto-fermentation” is simply the fermentation of vegetables caused by one of these species. There are a plethora of books out there and websites on the Internet that specialize in fermentation tips, recipes, and trouble-shooting solutions. If you jump on the fermentation bandwagon, you’ll quickly discover that one or two of these sources will be your best friend in your journey!

One resource that is extremely helpful and cost-effective to get folks up and running is Cultures for Health. This is how they explain the lacto-fermentation process: (4)

Lacto-fermentation really is more art than science. The science part is simple: lactobacillus (from a prepared culture, fresh whey, or just naturally occurring) plus sugar (naturally present in vegetables and fruits), plus a little salt, minus oxygen (anaerobic process), plus time, equal lactic acid fermentation.

  • The length of fermentation can vary from a few hours to two months or more.
  • The temperature of the room where fermentation occurs will determine the length of time.
  • The ideal temperature is around 72°F, but warmer or cooler temperature will still work. (Some strains of bacteria require specific temperature ranges.)
  • The length of time is dependent more on the flavor you prefer than anything else and since the flavor level of lacto-fermented vegetables increases with time you will want to sample often until you are experienced enough to know what works for your tastes.

Just keep in mind that you don’t want to introduce a lot of oxygen to the fermentation process as this increases the chance of spoilage. Lacto-fermentation is generally done in an airtight container or a crock with a water seal that prevents air from contaminating the culture. If you have a reliable recipe to follow, you can make minor adjustments as you see fit.

And this final word of advice is so crucial to remember:

The important thing is not to be intimidated by lacto-fermentation. You are not going to make your family sick by giving them home-fermented foods. Unless it smells unmistakably putrid (in which case common sense says throw it away), fermented foods are some of the safest foods you can eat. They are easy for even a beginner to prepare and it doesn’t take long to gain enough confidence to venture beyond basic yogurt or sauerkraut to an endless variety of vegetable and/or fruit combinations.

Americans have become germaphobes and the thought of living with (let alone eating) bacteria is repulsive to us. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth!

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Traditionally known as probiotics, “good” bacteria help protect their host and prevent disease. (5) Instead of taking supplements, our ancestors regularly ate probiotic-rich foods such as: (6)

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Miso soup
  • Raw cheese
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sourdough
  • Yogurt

Closely knit with probiotics, prebiotics are indigestible fibers that literally act as probiotic food.

Some of the most prebiotic-rich foods include: (7)

  • Raw chicory root (64.6% prebiotics by weight)
  • Raw Jerusalem artichoke (31.5%)
  • Raw Dandelion green (24.3%)
  • Raw Garlic (17.5%)
  • Raw Leek (11.7%)
  • Raw Onion (8.6%)
  • Cooked Onion (5%)
  • Raw Asparagus (5%)

Essentially, without prebiotics, probiotics are unable to flourish and your immune system will be compromised. The reason for this is because:

More than 70 percent of your immune system is housed in your digestive system! (8)

Fermentation and Strong Immunity

Literally trillions of “good” (probiotic) microorganisms compete against the “bad” (pathogenic) microorganisms in a constant battle to keep you alive and well. According to health authorities, “The primary benefit of probiotics and prebiotics appears to be helping you maintain a healthy digestive system.” (9) However, this explanation doesn’t give justice to the significance that pre/probiotics truly deserves.

For example, in the words of Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center:

“Because 70 percent of the cells that make up the body’s immune system are found in the wall of the gut, what we eat also may affect the body’s immune response.” (2)

Subsequently, if your gut wall is destroyed because of chronic stress, toxic foods, and drugs that destroy your microfloral balance then 70 percent of your immune systems will be affected! This is why pre/probiotics are infinitely more important than what most people believe them to be.

Another key point is that probiotics are also effective at boosting immunity because they are strong anti-inflammatory agents. (3) Arguably the #1 cause of all disease today, this list just touches the tip of the iceberg of health conditions that are caused by chronic inflammation:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Anemia
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Celiac Disease
  • Dental issues
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Heart disease
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Obesity
  • Pain conditions
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Stroke
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Type 2 diabetes

Chronic inflammation literally has the potential of affecting every aspect of our health. (4) And this is why it’s so important to eat pre/probiotic rich foods like homemade fermented veggies like our ancestors did!

Top 5 Vegetables to Ferment

Although there is no hard and fast rule on which vegetables are “the best” to ferment, when you look at the list of prebiotic-rich foods above and the types of foods that our ancestors traditionally fermented, these five typically stand out:

  1. Cabbage
  2. Peppers
  3. Garlic & Onions
  4. Radish
  5. Carrots

And when you combine all five, you’re well on your way to creating a tradition dish Koreans have enjoyed for hundreds of years. Kimchi!

Super Easy Kimchi Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 head napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 1 cup radish or carrot matchsticks or combination of the two
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground sea salt
  • purified water

Instructions:

  1. Rub sea salt into vegetables and mix in large bowl
  2. Let them sit for 6 hours to help draw out the juices.
  3. Pack contents (vegetables and juice) into Mason jar.
  4. Make sure vegetables are completely submerged by adding water.
  5. Screw on lid and let sit for 24 hours on the counter
  6. For the next 7 days “burp” jar every 12 hours by opening up the lid quickly and closing immediately so that air can come in and feed the aerobic bacteria that are fermenting the veggies.
  7. Let kimchi sit for another 2-3 weeks making sure that enough liquid is covering the vegetables.

Refrigerate after use. Can keep up to several months.

photo credit: osseous August 13, 2016 (license)




banner eric - The Most Dangerous Appliance in Your Kitchen
Dr. Eric Zielinski is a natural health educator, motivational speaker, and author. Inspired by the timeless principles in the Bible, Dr. Z’s mission is to provide people with simple, evidenced-based tools needed to achieve the Abundant Life.

He specializes in natural remedies and empowering life strategies, and coaches clients locally in the greater Atlanta area and is a frequent contributor to Better Way Health.

Yeast Free Diet: Restock Your Kitchen with Healthy Foodstuffs

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FOOD ITEMS PROSCRIBED FOODS NOTES STARCH VEGGIES Beets

Breadfruit

Butter beans

Carrots

Cassava

Celery roots

Fennel

Parsnips

Potatoes

Pumpkin

Squash

Sweet potatoes

Taro

Yams

Winter, acorn, or butternut squash

This type of veggies is brimming with nutrients, yet you should consume this food groups in control through the first month, until flare-up of the yeast is fully under control. In any case, you can take them up slowly in control while on yeast free diet.

Despite fresh fruit and veggies are safe options, they might not be ideal for prepared meal or ready-made dipping or dessert.

FRUITS Fresh Fruit

Dried Fruit

Canned Fruit

Fruit Juice (canned, bottled, or frozen)

Keep away from all fruits aside from low sugar fruits such as green apples, berries, kiwi fruits, lemons, and limes.

High sugar content in almost all fruits supplies foods to the yeast, albeit they are natural source of sugars.

Any dried fruit can lead to many problems as its sugar content is very dense that you might wind up craving more foods than it should be, leading an erupt of side effects.

GRAINS & GLUTEN FOODS Any products made from wheat, rye, oats, or barley, e.g. white bread, cereal, cracker wheat, whole grain bagel, rye bread, pastry, pasta, noodles

Spelt products

Corn and corn products

Rice

.

These types of wheat-based foods are loaded with yeast. Yet you can find yeast-free types of whole grain bread, which you can eat in control.

Cereals might not contain yeast, but they are prone to contain malt, which can also set off the yeast outbreaks. They often have very high sugar content, leading to a problem for those with yeast problem.

For people who endure constant yeast problem, allow your immune system to have a rest and avoid gluten while on yeast free diet. Still, in the long term you can include them in a while, once yeast problem is under control.

MEATS All pork products

Cured meats

Processed meats

Pickled, smoked, packed, or dried meats, fish, and poultry

Pork is loaded with viruses that persist to exist while on cooking process and might be unsafe for people with a declined digestive system.

Processed meats (smoked, preserved, and packed meats) like sausage, ham, lunch-meats, bacon and spam are loaded with sugar, as well as gluten, yeast or MSG.

FISH All fish (farm-raised fresh and sea fishes) aside from wild salmon and sardines

All shellfish

These items are loaded with alerting levels of toxins. It will restrict immune system and make you exposed to the yeast. DAIRY PRODUCTS All cheese products, cream, and milk

Whey products

Stay away from almost all dairy products, as they are loaded with lactose. Ghee, butter, kefir, and probiotic yogurt are better choices as most of the lactose vanishes through fermentation process.

Since blue cheese has mold content, albeit type that most people can eat, those with yeast problem should spare it.

ADDITIVES Citric Acid

Things you do not know or cannot mention!

Synthetic form of citric acid is resultant from yeast as it can break off good bacteria and feed the yeast. Even so, lemons and limes are best choices for yeast free diet.

MSG is also produced by fermentation process, and includes in some products, so always beware to check the label.

ALCOHOL Wine

Beer

Spirits

Liquors

Cider

 

Drinking high measures of liquor, mainly beer and wine, can briefly drop off your glucose, but controlled measures are likely to speed up the process.

These drinks are often bursting with carbs and linked to high sugar content. In the long-term, drinking liquor is prone to drop off function of insulin, prompting constantly higher glucose levels. Liquors are also able to raise bowel absorption and adversely result in immune system.

Gin and vodka are normally endured well by people with yeast problem as they are distilled without the same fermenting process as wine and beer.

DRINKS Coffee

Black tea

Diet & regular soda

Sports drinks

Fruit Juices

These drinks will lead to increased glucose, that it will turn down the adrenals and impair immune system.

 

NUTS Cashews

Peanuts

 

This group of nuts contains a high content of mold than others, which can arouse your Candida problem. Anyway, it is good to keep them away. BEANS Beans and other legumes

Chickpeas

Tofu

All soy products

Your body will be hard to digest them, as it is high in carbs, so it is best to avoid as early as possible from the first start. You can include them again in your meal plan later in tiny portions. MUSHROOMS/ MOLDS Mushrooms

Truffles

Some sorts of mushrooms will strongly improve immune system like shitake, reishi, and maitake, so you can eat them in tiny servings. Nonetheless, those who have symptoms get worse after eating mushrooms, which might be due to they are exposed to fungi in most cases. DRESSINGS Ketchup

Tomato sauce

Salad dressing

Pickles

Mayonnaise

Regular Mustard

Relish

Horse Radish

Soy sauce

All dressings are apt to have high sugar content, and they can worsen things. Ketchup, tomato paste, and pasta sauces all are brimming with high measures of hidden sugars. For substitute of salad dressing, try coconut amino or vinaigrette dressing (made from olive oil and lemon juice).

 

VINEGAR Vinegar products such as sauce, dressing, and dippings, all vinegar but Apple Cider Vinegar Produced in yeast culture, vinegar could exhaust the gut of acids, and able to lead to soreness in your bowel. However, one certain vinegar (non-filtered apple cider vinegar) can really be helpful in battling against the yeast outburst. FATS AND OILS Canola oil

Corn oil

Cotton seed oil

Margarine

Peanut oil

Soy oil

These fats and oils are loaded with mold.

Olives usually have liquid vinegar that will lead to a yeast problem. If you can get those without the liquid content, then it will be fine.

SUGARS Sugar

Honey

Syrup

Chocolate

Molasses

Rice Syrup

Agave nectar

Artificial Sweeteners

Dressings are apt to have high measures of sugar and can worsen things. Keep away from the soft drinks too. Keep in mind to check food labels to ensure the sugar and yeast content. Beware of hidden sugar in diet cola that can decline immune system and make you more exposed to the yeast outbreak.