The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home. Indeed, it affects the health of that organ—and the rest of your body—in ways you might not expect. A well-appointed kitchen can definitely promote healthy eating habits, from supplying your diet with fruits and vegetables to making it easier to prepare more meals at home. Here are six tips from the health and home experts at Consumer Reports.
Make Healthy Foods Visible
A study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that people increased their fruit and vegetable consumption almost threefold by moving produce from the fridge’s crisper drawer to the top shelf. (Food-storage containers can maintain optimal humidity levels.) For example, the Oxo Good Grips GreenSaver Produce Keeper, $20, did a fine job of preserving greens in our tests. Or you can keep them in their original clamshell container if that’s how you purchase salad. Another tip: Have precut veggies ready for hungry children to munch on when they get home from school and sit down to do their homework.
Get a Kitchen Scale
You don’t have to use it every day, but occasionally measuring your food is a good way to control portion size. Consumer Reports hasn't tested kitchen scales, but Bernie Deitrick, one of our test engineers who handles a lot of small appliances, bought the Hario V60 scale as part of our latest coffee tests. With its ability to measure in .01 gram increments, the scale is very accurate, which is helpful for getting recipes just right. "But it can hold around 4 pounds of food, so it's also good for portion control," Deitrick says.
Cook With Steam
Our tests find that it’s a speedy way to cook certain foods. And it can be healthier because steam keeps meat and fish moist and juicy without the use of butter, oil, or other added fat. Although full-sized steam ovens sell for thousands of dollars, the countertop Cuisinart Convection Steam CSO-300N costs just $300. In our tests, it roasted a 4-pound chicken in about 40 minutes, half the time needed for a conventional electric wall oven set to 350° F.
Use Nonstick Cookware
In addition to being exceptionally easy to clean, nonstick cookware allows you to sauté or pan-fry foods with less butter and oil. Our demanding cookware tests include scouring the cooking surface up to 2,000 times with steel wool and cooking up pancakes to see how evenly browned they come out. The Pioneer Woman Vintage Speckle Nonstick 10-piece set delivers superb evenness and durability for just $99.
Buy a Slow Cooker
Home-cooked meals on a hectic schedule can be a tall order. Starting around $30, these cheap, convenient countertop appliances make cooking easy. Just add the ingredients for soups and stews in the morning and the meal is ready by the time dinner rolls around. Most basic models perform similarly, but some higher-end models deliver more versatility, including the ability to cook rice, quinoa, and even yogurt. The T-Fal 10-in-1 Rice and Multicooker RK705851, $60, was a favorite in our tests.
Splurge on a Premium Blender
A blender can be a great way to infuse your diet with healthful options, including vitamin-rich smoothies, fiber-packed whole-fruit juices, and nutritious soups. Our tests confirm that high-performance models excel at the widest array of blending tasks, and that might pay off if it encourages you to use it more to make nutritious concoctions. The Vitamix Professional Series 750, $650, along with two similar models, the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and the Vitamix 7500, both $530, share the highest score in our ratings. Top-performing blenders aren’t cheap, but their generous warranties are a sign that they’ll probably hold up longer than cheaper models.
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