Kitchen Basics

In order to make it easier for you to cook low-fat meals, you may need to equip your kitchen the clever cook’s way. You don’t need to run out and spend all your money on new equipment. You probably already have some of the items; buy the others gradually. Before you know it, you’ll have a new kitchen to go along with your new outlook on eating. These tools will make your slim-foods cooking a breeze – almost as easy as slipping on your new, slim clothes.

Hot-air popcorn popper
No oil goes into this electric popcorn maker, which can turn out a hot, wholesome, low-calorie snack in a matter of minutes. And it takes up a lot less room than a can of pretzels or potato chips!

Its multifaceted functions make it practical to have on hand, especially when it comes to pureeing vegetables or soups or whipping up a healthy smoothie.

Bouquets garni
Special blends of spices and herbs can turn the ordinary dish into the extraordinary. Make your own blends, bundle them in cheesecloth, keep them in a canister (like the one formerly used to hold the sugar).

Slow cooker
The leanest cuts of meat often require the longest cooking. A slow cooker is the device to use when you don’t have hours to spare tending the stove. With a slow cooker you add the ingredients and leave for work or shopping. When you get home, the meal is done.

Double boiler
Yes, this utensil is good for more than melting chocolate. It helps warm up leftovers (like potatoes, vegetables or meat casseroles) without butter or oil. It also is handy in making the lighter sauces that are part of the clever cook’s repertoire.

Fish poacher
For anyone but the true fish lover, this piece of equipment is indeed extravagant. But if you catch your own fish or live near the water and buy fish fresh and whole, you might want to consider buying a poacher and enjoying your fish the way the Europeans do – delicately cooked with herbs and vegetables in a poaching liquid.

Ridged cast-iron skillet
No one wants to give up hamburgers or grilled cheese sandwiches forever. So, for those occasional times you do indulge in something fried or grilled, make them in a ridged pan. The ridges help capture excess fat and keep it off your food.

Clay cooker
Another utensil perhaps only the serious cook can appreciate, the clay cooker allows meats to simmer slowly in their own juices, making the use of extra fats, sauces or broth unnecessary.

Is that really a 3-ounce portion you’re serving yourself? When in doubt, lay it out – on your handy kitchen food scale.

Stir-frying is a great way to cook. While a little fat is required, you don’t need nearly the amount that is necessary for pan-frying. And as your wok gets seasoned with use, you’ll find that you can get away with using less and less oil.

Nonstick pans
Today they come in all sizes, shapes and price ranges. The advantage? They allow you to saute without the addition of any fat.

Skimmers and wooden spoons
A set of each should be in your utensil supply. Skimmers are just what they seem – they skim the fat off soups and stew. Wooden spoons are essential when using nonstick pans.

Spaghetti measurer
How many times have you made spaghetti and wound up with enough to wrap around your kitchen – twice? This inexpensive little device guarantees you’ll cook the right amount.

Although you needn’t buy the Oriental bamboo variety, a steamer should be part of every kitchen. It is ideal for preparing vegetables to perfection – al dente.