My Favorite Kitchen Tools for Healthy Cooking

Now that you’ve created a meal plan and shopping list full of healthy food — fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts/seeds, healthy fats, and lean protein — it’s time to get serious about your kitchen tools. I believe having a well-stocked kitchen (both with food and cooking tools) makes healthy cooking much more enjoyable (and easier)!

Below are a few of my go-to kitchen tools for healthy cooking:

Spiralizer

Turning veggies into “noodles” using a spiralizer is such a fun way to boost your veggie intake. Making veggie “noodle” dishes like my Sauteed Asparagus with Zucchini Noodles and Spinach Pesto or splitting regular noodle dishes with some veggie noodles is a great way to add extra veggies, especially for kids!

Blender

I use my Vitamix nearly every day for making green smoothies! Blending up fruits and veggies makes boosting the produce in your diet super easy. Check out some of my favorite blenderized recipes: Chia Fresca with Pineapple and Turmeric, Clean Eating Cauliflower Soup, and Tarragon Berry Smoothie.

Grater/Zester

I use my zester all the time to add fresh lemon zest and grated garlic into dishes – it brightens up dishes like my Quinoa Salad Formula Meals, Lima Bean Saute with Basmati Rice, and Energy Ball Formula Meals without adding any fat, salt, or calories.

Mason Jars

Mason jars make it easy to portion-control things like yogurt or smoothies, and are great vessels for storing overnight oats, chia pudding, and anything else that needs to sit overnight. I like assembling my Banana Chia Pudding with Almond Crumb Topping and Chia and Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Cherries in mason jars to have for breakfast on the go the next morning. I also use Mason jars to shake up salad dressing and other sauces.

Cast Iron Skillet

Cooking in a seasoned cast-iron skillet means you don’t need to pour in as much oil to keep things like eggs and veggies from sticking. I have a few pans, a mini one for my Wild Blueberry Skillet Pancakes and an 8-inch pan that’s perfect for making sautes like my favorite Asparagus and White Bean Saute and these amazingly delicious Tempeh Skillet Enchiladas.  You can also make casserole type dishes in your cast iron skillet, like my take on scalloped potatoes.

Avo Saver

Nobody likes a brown avocado, right? I’ve had my avo saver since 2009 and have used it almost every day. It’s not only super sturdy, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do: it keeps my unused avocado fresh! This little gadget is a must-have if you love avocados as much as I do!

Citrus Juicer

This one seems kind of indulgent, but I use it ALL THE TIME! I get so much more juice out of my lemons and limes than if I squeezed them myself, plus my hands stay clean. When I do cooking demonstrations, my lemon squeezer is the number one tool I’m asked about.

Fitted Bowl Covers

I know what you’re thinking. Are those shower caps? Yup, they sure are (at least they look like it).  I love these bowl covers! They come in handy all the time when I’m storing food in bowls that have no lids. They’re perfect for my daughter — who always seems to leave 3 bites of food in every bowl. They’re also great for storing leftover batter, mixes, and sauces. The best part is that they’re reusable, I just rinse them off and let them air dry overnight. They say you can microwave with them, but I never microwave plastic anything!  

Steamer Basket

I love turning my favorite Le Creuset sauce pan into a steamer! Although perfect for steaming veggies, I mostly use my steamer basket when I’m cooking with tempeh. Steaming the tempeh for a few minutes softens it and removes any bitterness. It also makes it super moist and delicious. Tempeh is one of my favorite meat substitutes and perfect for healthing up dishes like Tempeh Taco Salad and Kung Pao Tempeh.

How Hidden Food Sensitivities Can Affect Weight Loss

 

If you're suffering from bloat, gas, and gut discomfort after eating and you're unable to lose weight, find out if you have any undiagnosed food sensitivities.

You’re doing everything right – eating clean, cooking at home, exercising – and somehow, you’re still not losing weight. If it feels like sometimes your body is working against you…it just might be.

Unknown food sensitivities could be affecting your weight loss. Here’s how.

Eating food that your sensitive or intolerant to causes inflammation in your body. Similar to a virus or bacteria, food sensitivities signal an immune system response during digestion that leads to gut damage and hormone imbalances.

Eating foods you’re sensitive to every day, multiple times per day (like dairy or gluten, for example) causes a powerful chain reaction that starts with inflammation. Inflammation is regulated in part by the hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol production keeps your blood sugar running high and causes an overload of insulin production. Too much insulin production has the potential to cause insulin resistance and down the line, Diabetes. In addition, cortisol released during the inflammatory process may affect fat metabolism, causing your body to store more fat…particularly belly fat. Yikes!

Eating foods you have trouble digesting also wreaks havoc on your gut. Let’s look at what could happen with an undiagnosed gluten sensitivity. You eat a bowl of gluten-containing pasta. Your immune system reacts to the gluten by producing inflammatory chemicals in your gut. Over time, inflammation causes an imbalance in the bacteria in your digestive tract and this affects the lining of your intestines, causing  it to weaken and become even more prone to food reactions.  This inflammatory cycle creates a fire in your gut that results in discomfort and weight gain.

If you’re suffering from bloat, gas, and gut discomfort after eating and you’re unable to lose weight, find out if you have any undiagnosed food sensitivities. One way to figure this out is to go dairy and gluten free for a few weeks. Dairy and gluten are the most common allergy triggers and removing them not only allows you to notice if you feel better, it also gives your inflamed gut some time to heal. I don’t want you to do this forever if you don’t have to (there’s no benefit in doing that), but taking a temporarily break can provide you with useful information about how these foods are affecting your weight, your gut, and how you feel.

My 21-Day Nourish program can help you do this as well, all the while eating a variety of anti-inflammatory (and delicious!) food, and getting expert advice from a registered dietitian (me!).

In Nourish, you’ll also learn:

+ Why gut health is so important to your overall wellness
+ How to incorporate fermented foods into your diet
+ What to look out for when reading food labels
+ Most importantly – which foods fuel your unique body chemistry

If you’re ready to make some dietary changes with the guided support of a Dietitian and with an awesome community of like-minded eaters, join us! The next session starts May 1.

 

How Your Diet Can Reduce Joint Pain

Can the way you eat affect your joint pain and inflammation? It sure can...learn how diet affects your joints and what you can do about it!How Eating Clean Can Reduce Joint Pain

We’ve all been there – waking up to stiff joints and achy knees by the time you reach the top of the staircase. Joint pain is no joke – but did you know that how you eat can affect your joints?

Most people don’t make the connection between food and joint pain, but the pain you feel is a result of inflammation, a process in your body that is largely affected by your diet!

Reduced joint pain is actually the most frequently reported side effect of my Nourish program from participants. Why does this happen? Mostly because Nourish provides an opportunity to boost your diet with delicious anti-inflammatory foods.

What is Inflammation and How Does It Cause Joint Pain?

Inflammation is a defense mechanism triggered by damage to your tissues. When there’s something harmful in your body (like unwelcome bacteria, a virus, or any type of injury), your immune system signals an inflammatory response. That response includes an influx of fluid, proteins, and white blood cells, all of which provide damage control and work to remove the harmful substance or to repair tissue.

When the inflammatory response lasts only a few days (like when you scrape your knee or have a cold), that’s called acute inflammation, and it’s essential for speedy healing. However, when your body is constantly in an inflammatory state (not from injury or unwelcome substances) it’s called chronic inflammation, and it’s a major contributor to joint pain and nearly every chronic disease (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.).

When you think of joint pain, you probably think of arthritis, and for good reason. Arthritis takes many forms and can affect people differently, but the common thread is joint inflammation. With arthritis, your body calls for an inflammatory response to your joints, even without any injury. That draws fluid and inflammatory cells into the joint, causing swelling in and around the area, which can stimulate nerves and cause pain, irritation and breakdown of the cartilage protecting your bones.

How Does Your Diet Cause Inflammation?

Now that we know how chronic inflammation plays a role in joint pain and chronic disease, let’s look at what role your diet plays. Some foods trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines, and other pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. When your diet consists mostly of pro-inflammatory foods, your body is constantly signaling for an inflammatory response, which contributes to joint pain and other problems.

You might be thinking, is my diet full of pro-inflammatory foods? It’s definitely worth it to take a closer look. Does your diet consist of a lot of refined sugar and carbohydrates and unhealthy fats? How often do you eat candy, drink soda, consume white bread, or treat yourself to fast food? If you’re eating this way most of the time, your diet is a likely contributor to those daily aches and pains (along with a host of other health problems).

What Does an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Look Like?

If eating certain foods causes inflammation, you can bet there are foods that will help prevent or reduce it. Anti-inflammatory foods work in the exact opposite way of pro-inflammatory foods, by preventing the release of cytokines and inflammatory chemicals. The same way a generally unhealthy diet promotes inflammation, a healthy, balanced diet is your anti-inflammatory secret weapon.

My 21-Day Nourish Program is a great model for healthy, anti-inflammatory eating, as it includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, gluten free whole grains, plant-based proteins, omega 3 fish, and healthy fats.

Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are especially effective for reducing inflammation. Getting in plenty of avocados, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish are all great ideas.

Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies are also anti-inflammatory superstars. A simple trick is to eat a variety of colors in your food. The more colors on your plate, the more variety of protective antioxidants and polyphenols you’re consuming.

Whole grains are important because they provide fiber, which slows down digestion to keep you full and also cuts back on inflammatory signaling.

During Nourish we also remove many of the chemicals found in processed and packaged food. We try to eat organic food whenever possible and avoid highly processed packaged foods, chemical sweeteners, artificial food dyes and colorings, preservatives, etc. I can’t say for sure whether this plays a role in how amazing people feel on the program, but I have a sneaking suspicion it has an effect.

If you’re thinking about trying an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce joint pain, join us! The spring session of Nourish starts May 1. Click here to learn more!