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Whether you are looking for a gift for someone who is striving to take good care of his or her health, or perhaps to fulfill your own last-minute wish list, here are a few kitchen essentials that can help to make low-fat, heart-healthy cooking simple and delicious. Stocking your kitchen with helpful tools will give you and loved ones a great jump start on a New Year of healthy living.

Stocking your kitchen with helpful tools will give you and loved ones a great jump start on a new year of healthy living.

Pressure Cooker

Do you want to spend less time in the kitchen cooking health-promoting food? Pressure cookers are not just for beans anymore. Pressure cookers are one of the most important trends in cooking due to the changing speed of cooking in the last 50 years. The newer pressure cookers are safer and easier to use, and touted to decrease cooking time by 70% while retaining all the flavor and nutrition. Be sure to follow the instruction of your pressure cooker carefully. You can make fresh vegetable stock in minutes using your leftover veggie scraps, and cook beans, quick oats, soups, greens, potatoes and winter squash in less than 15 minutes. Brands with the best reviews are Instant Pot’s newest electric, programmable pressure cooker, Cuisinart, All American and Kuhn Ricon.


Steaming is one of the top cooking methods for cooking vegetable to maximize flavor while retaining nutrients. It is also one of the simplest ways to add vegetables to your plate. You can use a low-tech collapsible steamer basket, which is made from a metal mesh placed in a pot filled with 2 inches of water. A higher tech electric steamer makes the process more convenient, and allows you to walk away, because it has a set time that turns it off when the cooking is complete. An electric steamer is also excellent for cooking rice and other grains.

Nonstick Baking Mat

Nonstick baking mats are a must have for fat-free, non-stick baking. They are reusable sheets made with woven fiberglass and heat-tolerant silicone that can be used over and over to line your baking pans and provide easy and convenient clean-up. No need to add oil or added fat when baking or roasting your plant-based favorites such as beans, tofu, vegetables and roasting garlic cloves. Plus they help save costs and are better for the environment because they eliminate the need for parchment paper. They can be heated up to 480 degrees. Silpat is a brand that has excellent reviews. The mats come in different sizes to meet a variety of baking needs.

Microplane Zester 

A microplane zester has a long blade that grates in both directions for simple and quick zesting. It works great for citrus zest to add a fresh flavor to a dip (See Ornish Kitchen Sample Menu). It is also excellent for shaving spices like nutmeg or cinnamon sticks.

Food Processor

A classic food processor is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances. Its brilliance is that it can do many things that you can do by hand such as chop, dice, grate and shred, but only much, much easier and faster. It can also do things you can’t do by hand such as pureeing healthy and creamy soups, sauces, spreads, dips or heart-healthy desserts in just minutes. There are many good brands to choose from such as a classic Cuisinart and Breville for the larger food processors with KitchenAid and Hamilton Beach for a good mini chopper or smaller processor. Makes great dips for a healthy snack such as Edamole or Hummus. (See Sample Menu)

What cooking tools are on your wish list this year?

Contributed by

Carra Richling
Registered Dietitian

Eat well, be well!

Better Health Begins With You...

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