8 Cooking Tools That Make Cooking Easier and Healthier by Dom from standingmixers.com

The need to maintain a healthy diet is on the rise, and it’s especially important when there are so many easy ways to get fast food or other foods that are lacking in nutrition. One way to help combat this is to have cooking tools that make healthy meals easier to make. If it’s easy to do, it becomes less of a struggle to try to come up with healthy meals. This article is going to go over 8 tools that can help you cook healthier meals with ease.

 

Slow Cooker

 

Prepping and cooking a healthy meal can take time, and that’s time you may not have if you work all day long or otherwise spend a lot of time on the go. A slow cooker is an excellent tool to help solve this problem because it allows you to prep food when you can, and then add the ingredients to the slow cooker and let it cook while you’re at work.

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You’ll be able to come home to a cooked meal, which will make it a lot easier to avoid stopping by a fast food restaurant on the way home. If you get a larger one, slow cookers can also be used to cook up a lot of food at once, which you can then freeze and store to eat throughout the week.

 

Indoor Grill

 

The most helpful aspect of an indoor grill is that it’s able to drain grease away from the food you’re cooking rather than sitting in a pan, soaking in that grease. This can help even the greasiest foods to become a little bit healthier. It’s certainly not going to transform a burger into vegetables, but being able to enjoy the meat without the grease is a huge benefit in itself.

 

Many indoor grills have easy presets for various kinds of food that can help you to ensure it gets thoroughly cooked regardless of whether you’re grilling a burger or a chicken breast. Typically, these grills are easy to use, all you have to do is plug them in and get cooking!

 

Blender

 

Blenders can help you with making a number of things, from smoothies to salsas, soups and more without you having to worry about doing a lot of chopping. Cutting up a lot of vegetables and fruit can be time consuming, but a blender makes it a quicker experience.

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Smoothies are great to make with a blender

It also allows you to find ways to add more fruit and vegetables to your diet. For example, some people like to blend some kale into their smoothies so that they can enjoy the health effects of kale with the taste of their favorite fruits. A quality blender can have various settings from chopping to liquifying, which makes it a highly versatile tool.

 

Digital Food Scale

 

One of the biggest issues with the eating habits of many people today is the portion size. Portion sizes keep getting bigger and bigger when the best idea is to seek out moderation and balance. A digital food scale can help you achieve that balance by ensuring that you consume only the serving size you want, depending on your own nutritional needs. That way, you don’t have to try to guess at how much of something you’re making. This is especially helpful for meat, which is not very easy to measure in any way other than by weight.

 

Some added benefits are that typically, digital food scales aren’t very expensive and only require one or two AAA batteries to run. They are a little tool that can go a long way towards making healthy eating easier.

 

Steamer

 

A steamer is a great tool to have if you want to eat more vegetable and prefer them cooked rather than raw, or want a combination of cooking styles at your disposal. With a steamer, you won’t need any oil or other things to keep the vegetables from sticking. In small amounts, oils and other flavoring additions can be useful but it can also be great to avoid them when possible.

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Steamed veggies are more likely to be healthier than those that are cooked in a pan or with a roast. They can also be an easy go to if you want something simple from time to time like rice paired with your favorite veggies.

 

Oil Mister

 

An oil mister is a useful tool that helps you to use just enough oil to keep whatever you’re cooking from sticking to the pan without coating it in too much oil. This can help with cutting down on unnecessary calories that can come from those oils. When you’re trying to eat more healthfully, it can be helpful to cut down on calories that you may not even realize you’re consuming because they are just side products that you use with your regular meal.

 

It’s also often easier to cut down on these empty calories because it’s something that is less noticeable in your day to day cooking anyway. The oil mister may seem like a luxury item, but it can actually help a lot with making cooking oils last longer by using less of them.

 

Food Processor

 

Much like a blender, a food processor can help with adding fruits and vegetables to your diet in easier ways. While blenders work well for soups and smoothies, a food processor can be great for dips, dressings or even just chopping up some vegetables to add to a recipe. In some food processors, you can also keep the prepped food separated easier, because each mixing container comes with a lid that allows you to easily store any leftovers without having to dirty another dish.

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Energy balls are great to make with a food processor

They can also come in a variety of sizes, which can allow you to chop small amounts or, if you choose, you can also use some food processors to make smoothies or mixed drinks and use larger mixing containers more suitable for sharing. They’re a highly useful, versatile tool that can make many different kinds of food prep a lot easier.

 

Pressure Cooker

 

Pressure cookers are known to cook more quickly, which can be highly convenient when you don’t have a lot of time to cook an extravagant meal. Because of the quick cooking time, it can help things like vegetables hold in more of their nutrients.

 

When using a pressure cooker, you get the best of both worlds if you prefer cooked vegetables, because you’ll get the cooked flavor with more of the nutrients that would otherwise get cooked out of the food. This will make it a lot easier to enjoy cooked carrots, asparagus and other vegetable favorites in a shorter timeframe and in a healthier fashion.

 

Conclusion

 

Each of the tools in this list are useful in different ways, for different purposes. You may find that you end up needing all of them to create healthy meals sooner or later or there may be just a few that you come to rely on regularly. It’s all going to be up to your own personal preferences and budget. In any one of these tools, you’ll surely find something that will be able to allow you to cook healthy meals easily, making it much more convenient to maintain a nutritious diet.

Meal Prep: Turkey Meatballs with tomato sauce and courgetti…

 

Usually people hear the word ‘meal prep’ and think this process takes a few hours . However, if you plan your meals carefully, you can take only 90 minutes of your time to cook your favourite healthy dishes every week.  I then store my meals in plastic containers in the fridge or freezer for the next few days.

By preparing a large batch of a specific meal, you drastically reduces your cooking time. This means that at work you don’t hit the often not so healthy canteen and in the evenings you don’t have to worry about slogging over the stove to cook meals.

The recipe below is one of my favourites and features, alongside others, on the daily mail website.

I get my meat from Muscle Food Uk, and couldn’t recommend their products enough. The service is quick and efficient, the meat is a bargain and, importantly, it is delicious!

Serves 2

Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 1 red onion, peeled and diced.
  • I stick of celery finely chopped,
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil,
  • 1 tsp of mixed herbs,
  • 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes,
  • Seasoning to taste!
  • 8 turkey meatballs,
  • 2 courgettes, spiralised,

 

  1. For the sauce, put the onion and celery into a preheated frying pan and sautee for about ten minutes.
  2. Add the can of tomatoes, filling up the empty can with water to add to the pan.
  3. Season, stir well and let the mixture come to a bubble, then turn the heat down and simmer the sauce gently while you get on with the meatballs.
  4. Drop the meatballs gently into the simmering sauce.
  5. Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with courgetti.

Enjoy!

xxx

Finding a healthy balance as a mum.. (Guest post from @yummum81)

Do you sometimes find it hard being a mum and forget who you actually are? Do you think about how simple and easy life was before kids? Being a mum can be hard work and demanding. We all have our low days, experience feelings of guilt and strive to be that ‘perfect’ mum. At times you may feel like you have no support and it can feel a lonely place. You want to please everyone, so how do you get the right balance?

Following on from having my 2 children, it took a while to find that happy balance. I have learnt over the years that I will never be a super-mum, but know balance is key to leading a healthy lifestyle. Whether you work or not it can seem almost impossible to make time for yourself – let alone exercise! When life gets busy, fitness tends to be the last thing on your mind. Even though these times are when your body needs it the most.

Fitness is my ‘me-time’ a break from the outside world, a place I can reflect on my life with no interruptions. No matter how tired I feel, once I have worked out it puts me in such a good mood. I workout 4-5 times a week because I enjoy it and want to. It makes me feel happy and confident which is important to me being a mum. I like to mix it up with running, circuit classes and weight training; a lot of it depends on how I feel on the day. I do encourage my children to be active too and often go on bike rides with my youngest. Some days finding time to work out just doesn’t happen. I have learnt not to beat myself up if I don’t work out. Find something you will enjoy and stick too, whether it be running, yoga, swimming, Zumba or even just going for walks can be very beneficial. You don’t need a fancy gym membership either, working out from home is still as effective. Even if it’s a 10 mins workout on say a you-tube channel, it is better than nothing.


Nutrition is key, and as the saying goes ‘you can’t out train a bad diet’. My diet consists of clean eating, basically unprocessed whole foods. (See my blog on my must have food staples). In fact it’s not even a diet, it is my lifestyle. I keep it simple and it doesn’t cost the earth. Diets aren’t sustainable and are restrictive, there are no quick fixes. I take pleasure in cooking from scratch and knowing what goes into each meal. By embracing whole foods and eating good amounts of healthy proteins and fats. However you should never deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy, but like anything, eat in moderation! I go with the 80/20 rule so still indulge around 20% of the time. Decide what makes you feel good and works for you. I still enjoy my take aways and sweet treats and have these as a treat. I find this more enjoyable without feeling guilty. Though if I fancy a slice of cake, some chocolate or ice cream; I will. Life is for living!

If you can make time for yourself to be fit and well, the return benefits will be worthwhile. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle it keeps me focused in life, gives me the energy to look after my family and be a positive example to them. It’s not selfish to make yourself a priority, yet it does need to come from self love which does not make you a bad person. I love the fact that my children know fitness plays a big part of my life. Don’t feel guilty for looking after your body, it’s the only place you have to live in. Give yourself the time to be a mum and a woman; you will feel so much better about yourself.

@yummum81 x

S’mores loaf..

This one is healthy (honest), but like any cake, you only need to eat it in moderation, or if your macros allow!

However, less of that, let’s talk about the dreamy combination of chocolate, crunchy granola and marshmallows; need I say anymore! SOOOO, I grew up eating s’mores every time we had a BBQ, melting the chocolate biscuit and marshmallow and then making the most dreamy goooooooey sandwich! Therefore, I had to recreate it in a healthier yet just as tasty way!

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And, to make it easy for you to enjoy, here is the recipe:

For the bottom layer, you will need:

For the chocolate layer, you will need:

  • 150g of egg whites,
  • 100g of chocolate cake mix (I used Thrively),
  • 20g of chocolate protein powder (I used That Protein),
  • 50ml of Milk,
  • 1 teaspoon of Truvia sweetener.

For the topping:

  • 100g of chocolate,
  • Mini Marshmallows.

Method:

  1. Grease and line a loaf tin, as well as pre heating your oven to 160C.
  2. Mix the base ingredients until well combined and spread in the bottom of your tin,
  3. Mix the chocolate layer and pour over the top of the plain cake mix.
  4. Pop the mix in the oven for 40 minutes or until firm to touch.
  5. Take out of the oven and remove from both the tin and grease-proof layer!
  6. Melt 100g of your chocolate of choice and then sprinkle as many marshmallows as you like over the top!
  7. Pop under the grill for around 2 minutes or until browned,
  8. Take out, eat and enjoy!

xxx

 

Eating well for Christmas.

I like to think that I wear the trousers in our household, but when it comes to cooking Simon – the food loving husband – definitely wears the (frilly) apron. He’s a bit of a gourmet.So when I decided to change my eating habits my first job was to convince him to change his cooking habits. There was no way he was going to get on board with this new idea if the meals were going to be boring and bland. He’s fussy at the best of times & refuses to eat the same meal in the same week. Thankfully though he loves a challenge and once I’d laid down the culinary gauntlet he was away like a bloodhound on a good scent and relished the idea of making healthy food taste really delicious.

Its not rocket science knowing what is right and wrong in terms of food choices – but its an entirely different ball game trying to put theory in to practice, especially in a way that is going to be truly sustainable. Let’s face it, the run up to Christmas is one of the hardest times in the year to stick to a healthy eating pattern so here are a few tips to help you on your way.

Step one: Banish the bad stuff until Christmas Eve 

I know that Christmas isn’t that far away now, but its important to get yourself into the right mind set. So go on, have one last binge – gorge yourself on those leftover pies, that hunk of chocolate cake and that last packet of Hobnobs. Or bin it, take it to the food bank, whatever, but just make sure the kitchen is free of all the obviously unhealthy processed food and indulgent goodies – that gorgeous ice cream, the sweets and crisps and don’t forget that that luxury variety box of chocolate biscuits left from your granny.

Step two: Eat more protein. 


Macros – or macronutrients to give them their grown up name – are in every food we eat. There are three types – protein, carbs and fats. Eating more protein based foods will keep you fuller for longer, meaning that you won’t feel the need to snack and pick throughout the day which means over all you consume less calories. In order to achieve this most of us need to flick a switch in the way we think and prepare our food; protein based foods now need to make up the bulk of every meal rather than carbs which is the norm in this country. You still need to add in a moderate amount of slow releasing carbohydrates like sweet potato or brown rice to each meal because carbs provide you will energy. You also need to consume a little fat in the form of nuts, avocados and virgin olive oil which you need for good health.

Protein should make up 45% of your total food intake for the day, carbs 35% and fats 25%.

Stocking up

So when you next go shopping, make sure you take a shopping list (or create a new online shopping trolley) and stock up on the following foods. Be really disciplined about what you put in your basket. We’ve started to shop at Lidl and love it – they do a great variety of fruit and veg and the meat available is fantastic.

Protein

Chicken & turkey, lean beef and pork, fish, prawns, eggs, protein rich yoghurts, cottage cheese, nuts & plenty of Top Herd jerky & skinny salamis!

Good Carbs

Fibrous Vegetables of all kinds like broccoli, cabbage and kale. Sweet potatoes, wholegrain bread, brown rice & pasta, tinned beans & pulses (like lentils, chick peas, butter beans) quinoa, porridge oats, whole fruit.

Good fats

All nuts & seeds, avocado, olives, peanut butter, cooking oils – olive, canola, macadamia & coconut oil, and oily fish like mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon, trout, anchovies are also brilliant.

Step Three – Know what you’re eating

Have you got a selective memory? Do you “choose” to forget the half a bottle of wine you have each evening? Or do you sometimes slip a sneaky Snickers bar into your shopping basket? Go on admit it. We’ve been there too. OK, once in a while it’s fine, but if you are going to do this every day in the run up to Christmas, the calories will begin to add up and knowing the real calorific impact of alcohol, and the odd chocolate bar is really scary.

If you think about it our grandparents ate a lot less than we do now. Our general sense of portion control is…well frankly, out of control. We’re just pigs. We need to get back to eating sensible amounts. This is why tracking (weighing) the food you eat and drink is really helpful as there is no better way to gain a clear picture of how much you are eating. The easiest and by far the most fun way of tracking your food is to use a fitness app. We use MyFitnessPal pal but there are lots of others on the market.

Step 4 – Plan your meals & snacks

We’re not the most organised of families but we found that roughly planning our meals for the week was a great help. It means you buy the right foods, in the right amounts and you waste less.


But if you are struggling, start with one meal at a time – breakfast first. Breakfast should be your first high protein healthy meal of the day. Try things like boiled eggs or scrambled egg with spinach and a slice of brown toast. Once you’ve nailed your breakfast, think about how you improve your lunch and supper. Take it at your own pace.

If you’re great at bunging a few things together last minute, then you’re lucky and eating like this will come quite naturally.

Snacks have always been pretty important in our house. We’re often out and about, so we need to make sure we have plenty of protein to keep us going throughout the day. Nuts, Top Herd jerky & Salami Sticks are all good choices!

Step 5 – Create delicious, tasty but healthy food from scratch

The food loving husband has a ball in the kitchen, creating all sorts of quick and tasty delicious healthy recipes. I’m also getting better at cooking so if I can do it, so can you! We’ve got some recipes on our website, but if you’re feeling all at sea, and need some further inspiration, check out some of these other websites and books. They’re great and will get your creative juices flowing.
Jo Wicks #Leanin15, Hemsley & Hemsley “The Art of Eating Well” , Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi (our hero), Ching-He Huang (healthy Chinese cooking), or the BBC Good Food Website are all good places to start.

Step 7 – Exercise won’t make up for a bad diet

Exercise is really important, because it makes you feel great while also burning calories and getting your heart rate pumping. However, if time is an issue with the run up to Christmas, its more important that you spend time preparing healthy meals, than spending a wasted hour on the treadmill only to come home and eat crap! You can still burn calories and keep your metabolism pumped by doing the things you already do like walking the dog, whizzing around the house with a hoover, or clearing up the dead leaves in the garden.

Step 8 – Practice the 80/20 rule

Now remember, life is for living, not dieting, and Christmas is the time of year when its almost impossible not to indulge in a few mince pies and glasses of mulled wine. Here at Top Herd Towers we practice the 80/20 rule, which means that for 80% of the time we are good and stick to the rules above, but for the rest of the time we like to let our hair down and enjoy a piece of cake, a mince pie and a glass of wine or three. The trick is to not to start the festive eating and drinking too early and be aware of what you are eating and how much you are eating i.e.: you don’t need to go mad.

So that’s not too complicated is it? And if we can do it, I’m sure you can too.

If you want to try and buy some of our high protein, Top Herd Jerky and Skinny Salami’s why not head over to our website http://www.topherd.co.uk and check out our products and flavours. We won two Great Taste Awards earlier this year for our Tangy Tomato Beef Jerky and our Honey Mustard Pork Jerky. Our other flavours include Sweet Pickle Beef Jerky, Zesty Lemon Turkey Jerky, Chilli & Lime Turkey Jerky and Smokey BBQ Beef jerky. We also do two flavours of Skinny Salami’s (they are a bit like peperami but with out the fat and additives – kids love them) Tomato & Paprika and Chilli Pepper.

Please feel free to use this 20% discount code: Hannaeats

This new way of eating has done wonders for me but it’s also transformed Simon – he looks better, feels better, has lost a ton of weight, but thankfully is still wearing his apron, albeit a couple of sizes smaller. Mince pie anyone?

Happy Christmas to you all.

Love Philippa x

 

Toffee Apple Loaf.

Apple and toffee is a dreamy combination; thus, this autumnal loaf is moist, delicious and, if I say so myself, impressive!

I created this recipe for Musclefood UK; so head there for most of the products! They provide a great service when sending you top quality meat and store cupboard essentials. If you haven’t yet, you NEED to try their foodstuff and, whilst you’re there, use the code HANEATS for a free high protein pizza (they’re delicious)!

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Ingredients:

  • 100g of cake mix (I used Sukrin, could sub for 100g of flour and ½ a teaspoon of baking powder),
  • 40g of whey protein,
  • 15g of casein protein,
  • 25g of coconut sugar,
  • 50g of plain yogurt,
  • 25g of date nectar,
  • 100g of egg whites,
  • 2tsp of molasses,
  • 1 teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon,
  • 50 ml of apple juice,
  • 50g of chopped dates,
  • 1 apple thinly sliced.

Method:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients together (except for the apple).
  2. Pop the mixture in to a lined loaf tin and top with the sliced apple
  3. Bake at 160C for 40 minutes.
  4. Leave to cool in the tin, before removing and enjoying!

Hannah x

Nutella Marble loaf.

Lets face it, that combination of hazelnut and chocolate is just dreamy. And, tender and moist, this loaf cake is loaded with vanilla flavour and sweet Nutella swirls. It will melt in your mouth.

Instead of the calorie and sugar laden original Nutella (of course you can use this), I have used a reduced sugar option; Jim Jams Hazelnut spread and it is a just as delicious melt in the mouth alternative!

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The recipe:

You will need:

Method:

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients  except for the cacao powder, nutella and granola.
  2. Split the mixture equally between two bowls.
  3. With one half, add in half of the granola, the cacao powder and the nutella.
  4. Now alternate putting spoons of each flavour mixture in to your tin.
  5. Using a fork, gently combine the two flavours to create a streaked effect.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the granola on top and pop in to a preheated oven at 160C for 40 minutes.
  7.  Take out, leave to cool in the tin and then slice!
  8. ENJOY!

xxx

 

Blueberry Bread.

I LOVE blueberries; they are 100% my favourite fruit. If I could, I would eat them all day, everyday with both my sweet and savoury meals (cos sometimes I do eat savoury food too)! Plus, with the combination of blueberry and vanilla being one of my favourites, I feel that this loaf is DELICIOUS. So, here is the recipe for you to try!

The protein powder I have used is Misfits Nutrition all natural vanilla pea protein and it is delicious! If you want to use it to, use my code Hannaheats20 for 20% off of your first order!

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Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the blueberries.
  2. Once the mixture is fully combined, add in the blueberries by gently folding the mixture.
  3. Pour the ingredients in to a lined loaf tin and then pop in to a preheated oven at 160C for 50 minutes!
  4. Take out the oven, sprinkle over some coconut sugar, and leave to cool in the tin!
  5. Once cooled, take out and slice!
  6. ENJOY!

 

Hannah xxx

Guest recipe: Paleo Pumpkin Quiche

So today I’m treating you all to a delicious guest post recipe from my gorgeous friend @justjosihealth.

We all, well most of us, love quiche and pastry but we all know it’s not the best thing for us and doesn’t really hold that many nutrients, so Josi wanted to create a quiche which was packed with vitamins and also tasted good, so pumpkin season seemed a perfect time to start!

Ingredients:

500g steamed butternut squash/pumpkin chunks (it can be peeled but doesn’t have to be!)

30g egg whites

4tbsp coconut flour

30g coconut oil

Method:

Place the steamed squash/pumpkin into a processor and blend until smooth

Add the coconut oil and blend again until well mixed

Once cooled slightly add the egg whites and add the coconut flour a spoonful at a time, blending each time till you end up with a smooth mixture

The mixture should be thick enough to hold itself but should be able to be manipulated into place into a quiche dish, so you may need a little more or less coconut flour!

Press down the mixture into a quiche dish, making sure the thickness is consistent all the way round and up the sides – I aimed for about 5mm thick the whole way

Cover the dish with foil and bake for around 30 minutes at 170 degrees

Leave to cool completely, patch over any small cracks before filling

Choose any filling you like and sprinkle into the quiche, top with egg whites until all the fillings are covered

Cover again with foil and bake at 170 for about 30-40 minutes until the quiche has set, removing the foil for the final 10 minutes to brown the top

Enjoy!