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Healthy Cooking Tools

Martha Stewart Living, January 2006

Some ingredients for healthy eating aren't edible at all. They are wares that may be in your kitchen cabinets already, and which offer ways to make meals that are rich in flavor, not fat.

Take the grill pan, which is usually called upon to simulate backyard cooking. But the ridged surface serves a higher purpose, too: draining away fat. We use it to sear pork tenderloin, but it's also great for steaks and chicken.

The rice cooker is also unexpectedly versatile. It can cook a one-pot meal of not just rice but also vegetables and tofu -- and keep the whole dish perfectly moist. This means "you don't need much oil or salt to make it tasty," says New York nutritionist Keri Gans.

Heat-resistant oven bags (available at supermarkets) work similarly. Place chicken and stew ingredients in a sack, and it will retain the bird's juices during cooking -- no oil or butter needed.

Starting with healthful ingredients is, of course, also important. Our Asian shrimp rolls trade wonton wrappers for cabbage leaves -- then forgo the deep fryer in favor of a bamboo steamer.

So peer into those cabinets. "The more adventurous you are with your equipment," Gans says, "the more you realize that healthy cooking doesn't have to mean bland cooking."

Kitchen Assistants
Several cookware items make it easy to satisfy cravings for good food and good nutrition. A rice cooker, steamer basket, ovenproof bag, and grill pan are all helpful tools.

Do You Know?
Searing meat in a dry grill pan -- rather than sauteing it in a skillet with three tablespoons of cooking oil -- will cut forty-two grams of fat from the dish (almost the amount in four fast food hamburgers).

The Menu
Chipotle-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Salsa
Shrimp Rolls with Citrus-Ginger Dipping Sauce
Chicken Stew with Carrots, Chickpeas, and Raisins
Brown Rice with Tofu, Dried Mushrooms, and Baby Spinach