How To Improve Your Kitchen Skills With These Cooking Essentials

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With fresh New Year's Resolutions in mind and renewed energy for making healthy habits stick, many of us are hoping to clean up our diets. It turns out, healthy eating begins in the kitchen.

"It's not uncommon for people to be afraid to cook," says Sayde Beeler, MSW, RDN, a registered dietitian at Henry Ford Health System. "But preparing healthy food doesn't have to be difficult."

Essential Kitchen Tools

Preparing meals can be overwhelming, particularly if you're trying to feed an entire family. "People often want to eat healthier, but they also want to cut down on prep time," Beeler says.

The good news: There are a variety of tools on the market that can help you create a healthy and delicious meal in minutes.

Basic Kitchen Appliances

If you want to create healthy meals, you'll need certain tools — things like cooking utensils, pots and pans, bowls in a variety of sizes, a colander, and a few basic kitchen appliances. Top priorities include:

  • An oven: This one is kind of a given. A basic oven typically includes a stovetop. When you have both, you can sauté, broil and bake with one appliance.
  • A microwave: From breakfast through dessert, you can create entire meals with a mug and a microwave oven. Try this: Crack an egg into a mug, sprinkle some cheese on top and nuke it for about a minute. Sandwich it between two slices of rye, place it on a plate with an orange on the side, and voila, breakfast is served.
  • A toaster oven: While a standard toaster is nice for toast, today's toaster ovens are surprisingly versatile. You can heat up pizza, broil chicken and even warm up a quiche. It makes it easy to heat up leftovers evenly, meaning you can reduce your food waste

Extra Kitchen Appliances

There are a slew of kitchen gadgets that can help make healthy cooking a snap. These are by no means necessary, Beeler says. But if you get a holiday bonus or a gift card, they may be worth investigating.

  • A slow cooker (crockpot): Few things are more gratifying than throwing a bunch of ingredients in a pot, walking away and returning several hours later to a delicious dish that's ready to eat. "Crockpots minimize prep time, making it easy to get dinner on the table fast," Beeler says.
  • An air fryer: These handy appliances are designed to keep foods tender and moist with minimal prep and cooking time. They use hot air instead of oil to mimic the taste and texture of fried foods.
  • An Instant Pot: The Instant Pot (or similar types of multi-cooker) can act as a stand-in for other countertop appliances. It functions as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer and yogurt maker all rolled into one.

Kitchen Tool Savvy

Cooking isn't intuitive for everyone. But if you can develop some confidence, you might surprise yourself.

Still intimidated? Get back to basics. You can make delicious meals by just steaming, boiling, broiling, baking and microwaving foods. You can even stick with one cooking method until you gain some confidence.

"There are so many resources right at your fingertips, from recipe sites to YouTube videos," Beeler says. "The key is to get in the kitchen and do some hands-on cooking. You can even just search for a term like 'easy recipes.' Everyone has to start somewhere."

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For recipe ideas and quick-cooking solutions, check out Henry Ford's EatWell blog.

To find a doctor, therapist or nutritionist at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Sayde Beeler, MSW, RDN, specializes in nutrition counseling and health coaching for the Henry Ford Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Categories: EatWell