Elements of a Functional Kitchen: Tools & Prepware

Ensure functionality in your kitchen.  “With a well-stocked kitchen and essential ingredients in the pantry, it is possible to quickly prepare delicious, nutritious cuisine in a moment’s notice.”1

Along with a well-stocked pantry the ‘right tools for the job’ are also a necessity in the efficient kitchen.  This includes cooking utensils, knives and pots & pans.

In terms of durability and quality, purchase the highest quality utensils that are affordable.  Kitchen tools/utensils constructed of stainless steel or glass utensils are most serviceable for long term use.  Discussed in this blog are the kitchen tools that provide the core for a good starter kit, a base to add onto as it becomes cost effective.  There is no need to get too exotic.

A good starter kit includes measuring spoons, measuring cups, mixing bowls (3), cutting boards, knives (chef’s knife & paring knife), wooden spoons, vegetable peeler, colander, ramekin type small bowls, grater and can opener:

Measuring Spoons – to measure small quantities of either liquid or dry ingredients. The spoons should be clearly marked.  Measuring spoons may be made of plastic, metal or other materials. They come in various sizes, from a fraction of a teaspoon to a tablespoon.

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) mandates a teaspoon to hold 5 milliliters and a tablespoon to hold 15 milliliters.
  • However, all measuring spoons are not equal.  The ones in the kitchen drawer are not accurate by at least a little bit.

Measuring Cups – to measure a volume quantity of liquid or dry or bulk ingredients for cooking.  Measuring cups may be made of plastic, glass, or metal.

A glass measuring cup (in a 1 cup size or greater) will typically have a scale in mL and fractions marked on the side.  These are calibrated for measuring liquids (as opposed to dry ingredients).  Look for:

  • Glass:  does not scratch and easier to read the markings and the meniscus (downward curve at the center & up at the edges, of most liquids)
  • Spout for pouring
  • Clear measurement markings
  • Solid handle.

Measuring cups may also be purchased separately as 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4  and 1 cup sizes. These are typically used for measuring dry or bulk ingredients and are filled to the top with any excess scraped off.  Look for:

  • Stainless
  • Stain & odor resistant
  • Long handles
  • Shallow, wide cup section (sturdy & durable).

In terms of measurement, at 4 degrees Celsius 1 milliliter of water is equal to 1 gram of water.

Mixing Bowls (3): small, medium, and large for mixing ingredients, and can double as serving bowls too.  Purchase a large bowl for large volume of mixing baking ingredients, for example, a medium size bowl for mixing dry ingredients or beating eggs, a small bowl is good for mixing salad dressings, etc.  Look for:

  • Stainless steel (durable)
  • Nesting (takes up less storage space)
  • Bowls with lids (food storage).

Cutting Boards: for cutting and preparing food, made of wood or plastic and come in differing sizes.  Although not always practical, if possible, maintain a dedicated collection of cutting boards: one each for different meats, seafood, poultry, and produce.  Look for:

  • 2½ – 3½ inches thick for durability
  • Wood (easier on knife blades).
    • hard woods with fine grains such as walnut, hard maple, birch, cherry and oak.  The capillary action of fine grains in hard woods pulls down fluid, where bacteria can be trapped. (These bacteria die when the board dries after cleaning.)
    • soft woods such as cypress are easier on the edge of your knife, but they can pose a possible health/safety risk.  The larger grains in softer wood may allow the cutting board to warp/split.  Bacteria can collect and flourish in these areas.

Cutting board care/maintenance:  oil wood cutting boards regularly with a food-safe oil to protect it.

  • Rinse material off the cutting board when done using it.  To avoid contamination do not splatter the rinsing water.
  • Avoid cross contamination; sanitize a cutting board after raw meats/seafood have been on it.
  • Scrub it with soap and water, removing material from any scratches/grooves.
  • Wooden cutting boards require different sanitizers than plastic boards.  For wood cutting boards use an ammonium sanitizer, such as a solution of an ammonium cleaner and water.
  • Make sure it dries completely so that bacteria have no moisture to grow and reproduce.

Knives:  Chef’s knife & Paring knife: are the 2 most important knives to keep in the kitchen.  If the budget allows, 2 other knives to add to your collection would include a long, serrated bread knife and a boning knife.

Chef’s knife (8” or 10”) is an efficient, basic knife for doing a majority of food prep work, including chopping meat and vegetables.

A paring knife(~3½”) is much smaller than a chef’s knife.  It works well for more exacting, smaller tasks requiring precision such as mincing herbs or garlic, peeling produce, coring tomatoes, and hulling strawberries. Look for:

  • High carbon stainless steel; it provides for retention of a tough, sharp edge.
  • Handling and balance good knife should feel comfortable, well balanced and stable in your hand.
  • Weight – try several knives; pick the one that feels right.

Knife maintenance and care:

  • Do not leave your knives in the kitchen sink.  It’s a safety issue.
  • Separately wash, dry and put them away immediately.  If left in the sink, the blade can get scratched or dinged and/or the tip can bend or break.
  • Store your knives in a knife block or knife sheath.  Keeping them in a drawer can cause the blade to become scratched/dented.
  • Use a honing steel, a knife stone, or mechanical knife sharpener to keep the blade in good working order.
  • Always use wood cutting boards.

Other prepware needed:  Colander, small bowls, wooden spoons spatula, vegetable peeler, can opener, tongs:  make prep work easier, and take care of them properly.

1 Nancy L, “The Well-Stocked Kitchen” NancyLFitness Blog, https://nancylfitness.com/2017/11/06/the-well-stocked-kitchen/

 

 

 

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

tomato  Parmesan Tomato

Eat as a side dish or as a open face sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

INGREDIENTS

  • tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet.
  3. Top with Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle with oil
  5. Bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Nutrition:  Per serving – 91 calories

6 g fat; 4 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 375 mg sodium; 363 mg potassium.

Creamy Broccoli Salad – Healthy

BroccPic  Creamy Broccoli Salad            A healthy, low fat Broccoli Salad that is a wonderful combination of taste and sensation.

Ingredients

  • ¼ Cup Cottage cheese, reduced fat
  • ⅓ Cup Greek yogurt, fat-free plain
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ Cup red onion, minced
  • 1 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • ½  tsp Lemon Pepper
  • 8 oz broccoli, crowns, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 7 oz beans, garbanzos (chickpeas), rinsed
  • ½  Cup(s) pepper(s), red, bell, chopped
  • ⅓ Cup sunflower seeds.
  • ¾ Cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Add 8 oz broccoli crowns, 7 oz garbanzos, ½ C bell pepper, ⅓ C sunflower seeds, ¾ C dried cranberries and ¼ C minced red onion  to large bowl; toss.
  2. Create the dressing:  Use either a whisk or a food processor to combine ⅓ C yogurt, ¼ C cottage cheese, ½  tsp. Lemon Pepper, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard.
  3. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture; toss.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition:  per serving size, 1 Cup
Calories 249, Total Fat 8.33 g, Cholesterol 19.5 mg, Sodium 294 mg, Potassium 355 g, Protein 11.76 g, Fiber 6.43g, Carbohydrates 36 g, Sugar 16 g.

 

 

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

  • Resolve to change a trait or behavior?

  • Accomplish a personal goal?

  • Improve life? 

Want to exercise – But don’t have time.

Want to eat clean – But don’t have any recipes.

Improve balance, muscle tone, mental outlook – But don’t know what exercises to do.

The FIT CUI PROGRAM IS HERE TO HELP!

Combine a workout with cooking dinner!  The FIT CUI program  provides step-by-step recipes & fitness instruction.

FitCui-FeatImg-3up-Sidebends

Result:

Meal preparation packed with exercise & healthy cuisine.

Visit:  https://fitcui.com/fit-cui-program-overview/

 

 

Shrimp Fried Rice

FriedRicepic_1 Shrimp Fried Rice from the pantry –

This Shrimp Fried Rice recipe is an example from our soon to be published new FitCui cookbook using items typically ‘on-hand’ in the pantry and refrigerator.

Items from the pantry blend together in a tasty, healthy, simple and quick meal:

  • shrimp
  • rice, cold
  • frozen vegetables
  • eggs
  • onion
  • oil, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger.

Shrimp Fried Rice is nutritious, easy and ready in a jiffy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot (1 medium carrot)
  • ¼ Cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Canola/Olive, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1.5  pounds medium shrimp, cleaned and cooked
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 stalks green onion, minced
  • 4 -5 cups cold rice, well fluffed
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed (2)

Directions

  1. Combine in a bowl, and set aside:  3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper.
  2. Heat 1.5 tablespoon Canola/Olive oil in a wok/nonstick skillet, med-high heat.
  3. Add 3 slightly beaten eggs to the wok/skillet; cook until set.
  4. Remove eggs and place on a cutting board.
  5. Chop up the eggs; set aside on cutting board.
  6. Add 1/2 cup chopped carrot, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic and 2 stalks chopped scallions/green onions.
  7. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
  8. Add 4.5 Cups rice, stir fry until it begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Add 1 Cup peas and the soy sauce mixture (from step 1); stir, combining ingredients.
  10. Continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  11. Add 1.5 pounds of shrimp and then the chopped up egg back to the wok/skillet; stir fry for 1 more minute.
  12. Serve immediately.

FitCui – Available on Amazon.com

Nancy L - FIT CUI exercising

Nancy L – FIT CUI exercising

Imagine fitting in a workout WHILE cooking dinner or preparing a dessert!  The FIT CUI program, devised by fitness instructor Nancy L. provides step-by-step recipes and fitness instructions. The result is your meal preparation being packed with healthy exercise and cuisine.  Now you can with FitCui, Fitness Cuisine!!

FIT CUI – Short for Fitness Cuisine – is a program created for people interested in utilizing the time while preparing meals to fit in a few repetitions of healthy activity.

The FIT CUI program provides you with:

  • delicious nutritious recipes
  • easy and effective exercises that you can do within the confines of your kitchen.

While preparing and cooking your meal, the FIT CUI program provides step by step cooking instructions WITH corresponding step by step fitness instructions while you cook!

Fitness instructor Nancy L. has created a fun and efficient blend of fitness and cuisine resulting in a satisfying routine and meal.  Now you may buy it at Amazon.com

FitCui – Available on Amazon.com

FIT-CUI-book-800

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Mindful Snacking

Indulging to treat yourself to a snack is OK, but it’s important to be mindful about calories and nutrients so that good choices are made. Mindful snacking requires thinking ahead of time and making smart choices.  Make sure that snacking habits are not adding too many calories and too few nutrients.

Check out the nutrition labels at the grocery store and make smart choices when shopping.  Select snacks that will maintain energy levels and nutritional needs.  Watch out for added sugars and salt.  Mindful snacking can help to sustain overall good health; fight weight gain and fatigue.

Make sure that the food you choose is what’s best for you.   Hap hazard snacking habits can hamper your health.  Check this out:

Question – Is Cotton Candy or a Chocolate covered frozen banana the healthier sweet treat?

Cotton candy is full of sugar (220 calories), but it does contain has fewer calories than the chocolate covered frozen banana (240 calories). However, the banana provides more nutrients:  540 mg potassium and 4 grams of fiber.  The Chocolate-Covered Frozen Banana is the healthier choice of the two.

Question – Is Potato Salad or Pasta salad the healthier side dish?

Each has about the same number of calories and fat: 1 cup serving size contains 360 calories and 20 grams of fat. but the potato salad has more sodium (1,323 mg), Pasta Salad has less sodium (924 mg).  Pasta Salad is the healthier choice of the two.  Make it even healthier by using whole wheat noodles, providing more fiber (bran), vitamin E,  B vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and healthy fat.

Question – Is a Hot Dog or Nachos the healthier food choice?

Neither of these is the best nutritional choice.  The Hot Dog is a better choice, though, with a lot less calories (400) while nachos contain more than twice the calories (1,100). However, the Hot Dog does also contain lots of sodium (1,000 mg) and fat (22 g).

Question – Is a piece of Pecan Pie or Vanilla Milkshake the healthier dessert choice?

Pecan Pie is very high in calories (500/slice) and fat, but it’s actually the better choice compared to the calories of the Vanilla milkshake (1,300).  An even better choice would be a slice of fruit pie (200-300 calories).

Question – Is an Ice Cream Sandwich or a Vanilla Milkshake the healthier snack choice?

Ice Cream Sandwich is the healthier choice. A typical Ice Cream Sandwich has less calories (180) and less fat (4 grams) compared to an Ice Cream Sundae Cone calories (240) and fat (12 grams).  An even better choice would be a Fudgsicle (100 calories) and (2 grams of fat).

Question – Is a Margarita or a Pina Colada the better frozen cocktail choice?

Both frozen drinks contain lots of calories: Margarita (540 calories); Piña Colada (430 calories).  However, the fat free Margarita is a better choice.  The Pina Colada contains 5 grams of fat and more sugar.  An even better choice would be a wine spritzer or a shot of gin or vodka mixed with club soda (100 calories).