5 Kitchen Essentials for the Would-Be Calorie Cheating Cook
If you’re serious about low-calorie or low-fat cooking, there are some things you simply cannot do without…
1. DIGITAL PROBE THERMOMETER
Everyone ought to have one of these anyway – they’re the only way you can be sure when roasting, for example, that you’re not serving undercooked – or more likely, OVER-cooked meat. But when you’re cooking low calorie food, a digital probe thermometer becomes absolutely essential, because the cuts of meat are so lean, they’re much more susceptible to being dried out by being left too long on the cooker. It’s hard to overcook chicken thighs or pork shoulder, with their lengthy cooking times and all that fat to keep them moist, but it’s quite the reverse with chicken breast or pork tenderloin. Trust me, the digital thermometer is the thing that’s standing between you and a plateful of sawdust, and if you want to eat tasty food whilst dieting, you’re going to need one.
TIP: Click HERE for a useful list of internal ‘cooked’ temperatures which you must NEVER exceed!
2. DIGITAL KITCHEN SCALES
If you’re going to take this diet business seriously, everything needs to be weighed – accurately. ‘Sort of’, ‘roughly’ and ‘roundabout’ won’t cut the mustard. Get some decent scales, weigh absolutely everything out, even that glass of wine you’ve allowed yourself – and of course make sure you meticulously log the number of calories you’re consuming too. It’s frightening how it all adds up, so unless you’re relentlessly anal about it all, you’ll end up kidding yourself about the true extent of your calorie intake.
TIP: I’d also recommend signing-up with something like Weight Loss Resources or My Fitness Pal… don’t forget, as the pounds come off, your calorie intake needs to reduce accordingly, and sites like these have calculators that work that all out for you.
3. A MINI-CHOPPER
My Magimix Micro has proved to be one of my favourite ever buys. I don’t dislike chopping onions and I can put up with the finger injuries, but it’s simply a joy the way it makes mincemeat (so to speak) of pretty much everything you bung its way – and can even knock out a fantastic mayonnaise too! The key thing is that if you’re frying with very little oil, you really need to get your bits nice and small. The lower your ingredients’ surface area the simpler they’ll be to sweat, so ‘finely chopped’ is de rigueur for any calorie cheating cook. Of course, you can do all this with a knife. But it’ll take you considerably longer – and you need to make sure you’ve got a decent Chef’s Knife (not one of those semi-serrated monstrosities in a 5-pack from Ikea) – and it must be properly sharp..
TIP: If a knife slices easily through a tomato skin, it’s sharp enough. Any resistance whatsoever, and you need to sharpen it – sharpish!
4. OIL MISTER
Whether it’s healthily dressing a salad, greasing a frying pan with the minimum amount of oil, or adding a light spray of olive oil to a piece of toasted sourdough, at some point you’re going to need an oil mister.
TIP: Don’t be tempted to buy any of those horrible cooking sprays, which not only taste nasty but are also blessed with the relatively unpublicised attribute of wrecking non-stick pans. Pretty much all such sprays contain lecithin, an emulsifier which leaves a residue on cookware with disastrous consequences for non-stick surfaces – as I know to my own (considerable) cost, having recently had to chuck out an extremely expensive SKK job. You have been warned!
5. A REALLY GOOD NON-STICK FRYING PAN
Now’s the time to invest in a brand new pan with an unsullied non-stick surface, not put up with the one that’s been knocking around your kitchen for the past six years. No non-stick surface lasts forever, and you need it at its tippest top if you’re to get away with frying things like spices with the barest amount of fat to lubricate them. It’s a small outlay that will make a huge difference. Personally I like anodised aluminium pans, but don’t spend too much – as I say, no non-stick pan lasts forever.
TIP: A miniature frying pan from the hardware store (I mean the ones with a diameter of just a few inches) is also really handy to have around, for one-egg omelettes and the like. One-egg omelettes? Yeah, sorry – you’re on a diet, remember?