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.

Spice Up Your Health with Cinnamon, Turmeric and Fenugreek

Lower blood sugar naturally with these 3 amazing spices!

Three Powerful Spices to Help Lower Blood Sugar

In addition to adding tons of flavor to your food, many herbs and spices also have medicinal properties, providing a double whammy when it comes to flavorful food that is good for you, too!

These three powerful spices can help lower blood sugar, which is important in preventing and controlling diabetes, keeping your energy levels steady, and maintaining a healthy weight.

fenugreek seeds to help lower blood sugar
Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds are small and deep yellow in color with an awesome sweet-savory flavor going on. They’re often used in Indian dishes like curries, where they add color, flavor, and a host of medicinal benefits. Fenugreek seeds are high in fiber, which slows glucose absorption (meaning sugars don’t hit your bloodstream as quickly ) so you get a slow, steady stream of energy release, rather than a quick burst of energy followed by a huge crash. Fenugreek also helps stimulate insulin, the hormone that helps your body get sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells for energy.

How to use it:

Tumeric is a Spice that Supports Your Immune system and helps lower blood sugar.

Turmeric

Turmeric is often praised for its medicinal benefits – and it sure does have a lot of them! Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and recent studies suggest it may also be protective against type 2 diabetes by reducing long-term blood sugar levels. Getting these benefits is pretty simple, too. You can find turmeric either fresh or powdered and throw it into numerous dishes, from curries and marinades to scrambled eggs, smoothies, or teas and lattes.

How to use it:

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the most commonly used spices. I know I can’t make a bowl of oatmeal without a sprinkle of cinnamon! But did you know that in addition to being earthy and sweet, cinnamon is super good for you?

There are lots of different types of cinnamon out there ranging in price and quality. Surprisingly, the regular grocery store cinnamon (called cassia cinnamon) is the type with the most health benefits! Much like fenugreek, cinnamon helps increase insulin activity, which in turn helps lower blood sugar levels and keep long-term glucose levels in check.

How to use it:

Of course, herbs alone can’t undo the damage of a consistently unhealthy diet. Nor can they reverse your diabetes. But if you’re already on the right track by eating a clean, balanced diet, adding these powerful herbs to your daily routine can boost all that work you’re already putting into your health – while adding lots of flavor, too!

Middlebury Maple Run Cabot Fit Team Recap

Cabot FIt Team 2016

Disclosure: My race entry fee, accommodations, and meals were paid for by Cabot Creamery Cooperative. All opinions and such expressed here are my own.

Meet the 2016 Cabot Fit Race team:

Anne @ fANNEtastic Food
Jess @ Dietitian Jess
Katie @ Healthy Seasonal Recipes
Amanda @ The Wholesome Dish
Danielle @ Food Confidence (me!)
Roni @ Ronis Weigh

How much fun can you have on a mostly rainy weekend in Vermont prepping for a relay race? A TON! I had such a wonderful weekend with these amazing gals and the Cabot team, who have been hosting these running experiences since 2013.  If you don’t know Cabot, they are a cooperative owned by 1,200 family farms in New York and New England.

I’ve been on the Cabot Cheese Board for the last few years and given the opportunity to taste many a Cabot cheese. I don’t cook a lot with cheese, mostly because I prefer to eat it cold, but I do love sharing Cabot with friends and family.

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My weekend began late afternoon on Friday when I was greeted at the airport by Sara in the infamous Cabot Cheese van. We arrived at the Swift House Inn, which became our home away from home for the weekend. I stayed in the Governor’s room, which was a treat given I had my very own fireplace.

Kayhart brothers farm

On Saturday morning we toured the Kayhart Brothers Dairy Farm, an award winning, family run Dairy Farm.

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We got a fun farm tour from Steve Kayhart, a runner himself and a part of the Cabot fit team. He talked candidly with us about what it means to be a dairy farmer and how he cares for his dairy cows.

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Then we visited the babies. We spent a lot of time hanging with these sweet baby cows, they were excited to see us and enjoyed licking our fingers!

cabot dairy farm

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We gave some love to the momma cows as well.

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We also explored the very quaint town of Middlebury….

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….and enjoyed a pre-race dinner of pizza and salad. What else should you eat before a race, right?

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On Saturday night, I set out my race outfit and tried to get some sleep.

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I woke up Sunday morning excited to get out there, regardless of the dreary weather!

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Finishing up the last mile!

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Being part of the Cabot Fit team was totally fun! My relay partner Katie Webster ran the first 7 miles and I ran the last half. I didn’t run fast (at all!), but I finished strong and I felt pretty good. I sort of regret not training harder for it, but I plan to pick up the pace for my next race in September, which is a full half marathon in DC’s wine country.

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On Sunday afternoon we had a Cabot cheese and local wine + cider tasting and ended the weekend relaxing and cutting loose with a good old-fashioned Pictionary game.

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Is life better in Vermont? I don’t know for sure, but after spending this fun weekend in Middlebury, I might like to find out!