13 Quick Fixes for a Diet-Friendly Kitchen
1. Keep the kitchen clean.
Make a rule and impress it on all family members: dirty dishes are never to be left in the sink, and the counter tops and table must remain clean. You’ll be far more motivated to cook healthy meals if you don’t have to clean the kitchen first.
2. Place an enticing jug of water in the fridge.
Get out a nice jug, fill it with ice, water and lemon wedges, and place it in your fridge in full view. Whenever you open the refrigerator out of boredom, pour yourself a glass of water. Researchers in Germany studied people’s metabolism after they drank about 500ml of water. Within 10 minutes of taking the drink, they burned 30 per cent more calories than before they drank the water, and the boost in their metabolism lasted for 30 to 40 minutes. Another bonus is that water flushes impurities from your body, which is important for people with diabetes, who have a high risk of developing kidney disease. Drinking plenty of fluids also protects against water retention, a common problem when kidneys aren’t functioning at their best.
3. Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter top.
Make sure that fruit such as apples, pears, peaches and kiwi fruit are the first foods you see when you enter the house ravenous at the end of the day or pop into the kitchen for a snack. A shallow bowl is better than a deep one because most fruit keeps best unstacked. But in hot weather limit the amount of fruit kept out of the fridge as it will go bad more quickly.
4. Stock the spice rack. Spices will help you to flavor your meals without adding fat or calories.
Keep dry rubs for meats, Italian seasoning and other favorites in a spice rack on your kitchen counter top or tucked in your cupboard door for easy access. Some spices, including ginger, cayenne, turmeric, fresh garlic, curry powder, basil, oregano and rosemary, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers, which help with diabetes. Keep them handy to flavor meat and vegetables.
5. Save a special place for cinnamon sticks.
Some doctors now believe that cassia cinnamon should be the one spice that you reach for every day. Recent research has suggested that cinnamon may improve bloodglucose levels and blood fats in people with type 2 diabetes. More research is required and it is not advisable to take large doses of the spice, although using a little cinnamon regularly in your cooking may prove beneficial. And it will undoubtedly impart a wonderful flavor to your food.
6. Keep a small bottle of olive oil within easy reach.
Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which, unlike the saturated fat in butter, will protect your heart from heart disease. Because heat and light can turn olive oil rancid over time, keep a larger bottle in the fridge to refill your counter top bottle. Olive oil becomes cloudy in the fridge, but bringing it to room temperature will restore its clarity. Use extra-virgin olive oil. Because extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of olives and contains no refined oils, it has high levels of phenols – antioxidants that help prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as complications of diabetes, such as nerve problems.
7. Buy a vegetable steamer.
Steaming is the healthiest way to cook vegetables because important nutrients aren’t lost in the water. Choose a metal steamer basket (then fill it with vegetables, place over a saucepan of rapidly simmering water, cover, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes) or a microwave steamer (add a small amount of water to the bottom of the container, add vegetables to the basket, and cook for 2 to 5 minutes).
8. Limit your corn oil.
Corn oil doesn’t compare well to olive oil when you examine their health benefits. Olive oil contains 72 percent monounsaturated fats, while corn oil contains only 24 percent. Even more important, olive oil fights inflammation in the body, which is linked to many diseases including diabetes and heart disease, whereas corn oil is thought by some health experts to promote inflammation. When olive oil won’t work in a recipe, such as in baking, use canola (also known as rapeseed) oil or rice bran oil. They have a milder taste than olive oil but also contain an impressive amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
9. Keep several kinds of vinegar on hand.
Cider, white, rice, balsamic and red and white wine vinegars will come in handy for making quick salad dressings and marinades for meat or vegetables. And they bring an extra bonus: research suggests that adding acids to meals (such as vinegar or lemon juice) blunts the effect of the meal on your blood glucose. Try balsamic vinegar on top of sliced strawberries for an unexpected taste sensation.
10. Place healthy snacks within sight.
You know you shouldn’t be eating cookies, so why did you pop one into your mouth the second you walked into the kitchen? Maybe because the open package was sitting in the front of your cupboard, taunting you. Banish the cookies to the back of a high shelf or even the freezer. Put in their place some almonds, walnuts and peanuts. Also keep some low-fat yogurt in the front of the fridge, and store some cut-up carrot sticks or a bowl of cherry tomatoes or sugar-snap peas there, too.
11. Better yet, banish junk food.
Get the whole family making the same healthy food choices. Banishing junk food from the kitchen will benefit everyone!
12. Invest in a blender.
You’ll read know how important it is to eat breakfast every day. ‘Real’ food is always preferable to meal replacement drinks, but for those mornings when you don’t have time even for a bowl of cereal, whip up a low-fat fruit smoothie or shake to grab and go. You are much more likely to do this with a blender sitting on the kitchen bench beside the fruit bowl, and it will give you the carbohydrate and fiber you need to start the day.
13. Keep at least one emergency meal in the freezer.
Forgot to buy chicken for Tuesday night’s chicken Marsala? No problem. Individual servings of vegetable lasagna await in the freezer. Just heat and serve. When you run out of back-ups, make a double batch of your next meal and freeze the extra. Casseroles, soups and cooked meat can be frozen for up to three months. Use plastic bags and wrap made for the freezer or keep in airtight freezer containers.