Let's face it: the holidays are the hardest time to keep off extra pounds, never mind shed them. After being tempted by post-Halloween sweets in the office kitchen, we're lured by calorie-laden cocktails at friends' parties and carb-heavy dishes at family gatherings. That said, the tickets to weight-loss success (even during this diet-trying time) are already at our disposal! The following five kitchen essentials help anyone eat healthier this holiday season-and even lose weight.
1. Panini Press/Griddle
This versatile machine (which you can find for as low as $40 at Sears) cooks everything from hot sandwiches to grilled veggies, chicken, and fish (not to mention satays and grilled cheese sandwiches-perfect for cocktail parties). Its non-stick plates-which are designed to drain grease for healthier cooking-make lubing with high-fat butter or margarine unnecessary, not to mention give food that great grilled look and taste. And because food doesn't simmer and soak in oils and grease (like in a conventional frying pan), by cooking with it you can easily shave a hundred calories off your meal or party appetizers.
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Your conventional or handheld blender could be your biggest weight-loss ally. Use it to whip up fruit smoothies in the morning and puree cooked vegetables for delicious soups and bisques at night. Not only will you drastically reduce the amount of processed foods (which can contain high levels of trans fat, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar) you consume, but also you will get your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables (which, according to the Department of Health and Human Services is two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables per day for adults consuming 2,000 calories a day) without even thinking about it! Need an entertaining idea? Serve individual mugs of pureed soup with a dollop of yogurt and guests will thank for you the flavor and healthy alternative!
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3. Gravy Separator
As its name implies, the gravy separator-which you can find at Williams-Sonoma for $24-seamlessly separates meat and poultry juices from fat. This remarkable heat-resistant, microwavable tool has a low spout that pours healthy, flavorful sauces instead of the less-dense fat that floats to the top. Genius!
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4. Food Steamer
Although many consider a raw-food diet as the healthiest type, it's not always optimal (or palatable). Cooking food via steaming is typically regarded as the next-best thing. Steaming, unlike boiling, ensures that food's vital nutrients are retained and allows you to cook it without adding calorie-laden ingredients. Plus, steam is so gentle that it keeps food's natural aroma intact. Serve lightly steamed veggies with a dip at your next party and you'll be festively healthy! You can find food steamers at stores like Macy's or Walmart.
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5. Food Scale
Food scales may not help you with your entertaining, but they can help you manage your meals between parties, when you are eating at home. Scales take the guesswork out of calorie counting because they precisely measure individual ingredients or entire meals, making portion control a cinch! Don't already have one? Not to worry! You can purchase a solid digital food scale for as low as $20 at Target or Walgreens.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com
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