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Your Healthy Kitchen: Cooking Essentials

We took a poll of the most important things our specialists and dietary staff have on their shelves. These are the items we use the most at home in our own kitchens. We’ve dubbed them ‘Cooking Essentials’ because we use them all the time at home, at the office, and even while traveling. In fact, we feel we can’t do without them.

Turn your kitchen into a healthy one with these cooking essentials. These are mainstay items that help you stay on track, lose weight, and add lots of flavor to your meals and snacks. A lot of these items can also be used to substitute higher calorie foods for healthier ones.

In the Fridge

Baby Carrots – for when you have the ‘crunchies’, or need something to dip in place of a chip
Frozen vegetables – for easy microwave side dish
Lemon Juice – Add zest to salads, squeeze lemon atop your tuna or shrimp
Greek Yogurt – use in place of heavy cream, or sour cream, or as a protein source
Salsa – this adds zing to salads, soups, and entrees like baked chicken
Edamame – pop into the microwave, sprinkle a little salt and Voila! A filling protein snack
Frozen Shrimp – you don’t have to defrost these, so stir-fry is a snap

In the Spice Cupboard

Hot Sauce – use to give foods a kick of flavor
Olive Oil – for cooking, salad dressings, and marinades
Spice Rack – spin this baby around like Russian roulette
Crushed Red Pepper – jazzes up the most boring meal
Capers – 6-8 of these add a punch of yummy flavor to your italian dishes. Try them in a salad too.
Stevia – sweetener to use in place of sugar in lemonade, sweet tea, or coffee
Sea Salt – this is rich in trace minerals, and doesn’t have any added free-flowing agents.
Vinegar – like balsamic, red or white wine, tarragon, apple cider, and rice vinegars all make a great base for homemade marinades and salad dressings

In the Pantry

Protein Powder – for a quick snack or meal
Vegetable Broth – use to cook meat instead of oil and steam your veggies in broth to add extra flavor
Canned Tuna – for a fast dose of protein (squirt some lemon juice on top)
Tomato Paste – for adding concentrated tomato flavor in place of ketchup
Almond Milk – this has a longer shelf life than regular milk, and helpful for those avoiding dairy.
Nuts – for a quick snack on the go
Peanut butter or Almond butter – for a ‘spoon snack’
Artichoke hearts – or any other canned veggie that you can throw in as a quick side dish
Garlic Cloves – these stay fresh for a while in your cupboard, and boost flavor in soups and sides

Tools of the Trade

Mini-Electric Vegetable Chopper – for slicing things quickly without a knife and cutting board
Sharp Chef’s Knife – for those veggies you need to slice
Easy-to-clean cutting board – to keep your kitchen counter safe, and to cut chicken or steak into chunks or strips
Blender Bottle – no electricity, no- mess way to blend your protein powder and blast lumps. Use it to make dressings and marinades as well. Travel without your blender!
Garlic Press – for easy knife-less garlic prep

Related Article: 3 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight

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