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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Favorite Svelte Kitchen Gadgets: Vol. I

Eating healthfully isn't easy. It takes the right lean, green or whole grain ingredients, creativity and lots of flavorful spices to make healthy food that tastes good. Sure, you can buy frozen, microwavable "lean" dinners, but they're loaded with salt and preservatives -- and really don't taste that good either. And they're so tiny! I can eat three of them, but that sort of defeats the purpose. But I'll save my rant on the evils of miniature food for another post and get back to the point at hand. Eating healthfully with a little help from my friends...

I'm doing this in volumes because I have SO MANY kitchen gadgets and I couldn't decide on just a few. I'll feature more in future posts, but for now, here are my first four:

The Misto: I use my Misto every single day and I absolutely love it! Basically, it takes a liquid or oil and allows you to atomize it by pumping the cap to add air pressure. Your olive oil is now in aerosol form! Not only is it a cool gadget that causes dinner party guests to say "hey, what's that thing?!," it also allows you to dramatically cut calories and fat and still get the great flavors of your favorite oils. Mine stays filled with extra virgin olive oil and basically takes the place of regular cooking spray in my skillets, etc. It's great sprayed on the grill rack to help keep food from sticking! I even spray it on vegetables, salads and meat to add that great olive oil flavor and shine without the calories. Imagine the rich flavors you could healthfully impart by filling this with sesame oil or truffle oil. YUM! Any recipe that says "brush" or "coat" with oil gets a blast from The Misto, saving us hundreds of calories.

Makin' Bacon: OK, first of all, I'm not making the claim that bacon is good for you or has any health benefits besides a bit of protein. But it tastes SO good! I'm a big fan of adding flavor instead of fat, but if you can get a lot of the fat out of bacon, then one slice at about 45 calories added to a whole recipe isn't going to kill you. And apparently, there's a nine-year-old girl who knows this -- the inventor of Makin' Bacon. I was skeptical at first, but the concept makes sense -- hang your bacon on the Makin' Bacon racks, microwave it for a minute or two, and the bacon cooks to your desired crispness while the fat drips in to the tray on the bottom! We don't eat a lot of bacon here at the Svelte Gourmet, but one slice of crispy lean-cut bacon, crumbled and sprinkled over a few baked chicken breasts (I have a lot of chicken recipes) makes it extra tasty and doesn't add a lot of fat and calories! Everything in moderation, right? If you're going to make a lifestyle change to healthy eating, you can't deprive yourself of flavor. There are ways to do it right!

KitchenAide Food Chopper: A lot of companies make a product like this, but the concept is the same -- a zig-zagged metal blade plunges and retracts, making a quarter turn each time. You operate it by putting your food in the chamber, placing it on a solid surface and pounding the top plunger several times until you reach the desired size of dice. Then, the entire thing comes apart and goes right into the dishwasher. I love this thing. I use it for onions, garlic, nuts, peppers, apples -- anything crispy works. Not only does this device allow you to release any residual anger from your day (is your spouse aggravating you?!), but it is also completely self-contained and kid-friendly. Our girls use this to help me cook. Not only is it fun to use, but I feel better knowing that they're not going to slice off a finger or accidentally spin around and stab one of us. It's great!

Crème Brûlée Torch:
OK, again, I know that this dessert isn't "healthy." However, I make it
at home using small ramekins. My second favorite thing to do besides blog about healthy food is to calculate the calories in all my recipes -- I even have a spreadsheet for it. Doesn't that sound like fun?! Anyway, I calculated my crème brûlée recipe (which still uses heavy cream, eggs and sugar -- though a lot less than you would think), divided by eight servings served into 4 ounce ramekins, and the calorie count?! 130 per serving!!! Are you shocked? Quite a bit better than that 500 calorie (at least!) piece of cheesecake, huh? Toss a few blueberries on there and you have a very impressive dinner party dessert. But I transgress. Back to the gadget. Not only does it allow me to make this impressive dessert and torch it in front of my guests ("ooh, ahhh!"), even the kids will eat food they get to torch. Now please, stand VERY close to them and don't look away. But with the right supervision and a pledge to teach your kids kitchen safety, this is as harmless as the stove or chef's knife. It also has other uses as well. I have a svelte French onion soup recipe that I love, and I wanted to serve it in bowls that went with my "tablescape," but they weren't oven-safe. So I torched the very thin slice of cheese with the torch and it came out beautifully! I love my torch.

I could go on and on and on, but I'll save some gadgets for future volumes. Enjoy and feel free to share some of your favorites!


JS said...

My favs: garlic press and slow cooker! I'll definitely check out the misto!

The Svelte Gourmet said...

Believe it or not, I've just started experimenting with the slow-cooker! I don't know why I never used it before...maybe because that meant I had to plan ahead? Anyway, if you have any recipes to share, please feel free! Thanks for sharing, Jenn!