The ingredients you choose sure have a lot to do with preparing a healthy holiday meal, but have you given much thought to the kitchen gadgets? A few key tools can help you add flavor, trim fat and more.
Here are a few of our favorites. (Don’t forget to check out our collection of healthy recipes straight from the Canyon Ranch kitchen when planning this year’s healthy holiday menu, too.)
Turkey and gravy go together like peas and carrots. But homemade gravy can be loaded with heart-unhealthy saturated fat, particularly if you cool your turkey’s drippings and attempt to separate the fat from the juices with a spoon, which isn’t very effective. Enter the fat separator: This simple kitchen tool parses excess fat from the flavorful juices for you, leaving the healthiest part of the pan drippings for your gravy.
Use it: Strain large pieces out of your turkey’s pan gravy, and pour the liquid remains into the fat separator. Let it rest until you see a layer of fat form on the top. Pour the contents into your gravy boat; stop once only fat remains in the separator.
One solution for punching up humdrum holiday dishes is to douse them in rich sauces. Consider changing up their flavor profile instead. Graters/zesters (those with long handles allow for easy gripping and use) are super sharp and perfect for quickly turning garlic cloves, citrus zest or ginger into fine shavings. Seamlessly blend them into your recipes to deliver high-impact flavor without tons of extra fat and calories. You can also use this kitchen tool to add in just a taste of other foods you want to limit but whose flavors you don’t want to miss out on entirely, like hard cheeses and chocolate.
Use it: You’ll find countless uses for a grater/zester, but here’s one perfect for your holiday meal planning: Instead of loading your classic sweet potatoes down with butter, brown sugar and marshmallows, invite them to shine: Thinly slice them; toss them in a light coating of olive oil, dress them with grated ginger, orange zest, freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon; and bake until soft.
Non-Stick Baking Mat
A silicone baking mat eliminates the need to butter or grease cookware altogether, which can help you cut unnecessary calories. A favorite of many for preparing cookies, dinner rolls, and other baked goods, it can also be used for baked appetizers, chicken and more. Available in a variety of sizes, these mats also help cook food more evenly (here’s to the perfectly golden Christmas cookie).
Use it: Simply place it at the base of your pan and prepare your food as you otherwise would. (This is a great kitchen tool for preparing recipes that already call for a good amount of butter and won’t be hurt without a little more.)
Many oils are healthy—rich in unsaturated fats that are good for your heart. But pouring oil straight from the bottle or a dispenser almost always ends up delivering more than you really need, significantly upping the fat and calories of your holiday meal. Using an oil mister will cut down on the amount of oil you use by creating a fine mist, much like a non-stick cooking spray bottle.
Use it: Retire your heavy hand and use this kitchen tool to lightly coat pans, salads, fish and more. Some types come equipped with a filter, allowing you to use them to dispense oils that are mixed with herbs and spices. Try a few squirts on your salad for a light, fragrant dressing, and always choose expeller pressed or cold pressed oils to get the biggest dose of nutrients—and flavor.
Veggie side dishes may be the healthiest items on your holiday table. Unfortunately, if you’re cooking the color out of them, you’re probably losing valuable nutrients. What’s more, mushy, dull-looking vegetables are less likely to get eaten than vibrant, fork-tender ones. Keep your veggies looking and tasting their best by lightly steaming them in a stainless steamer basket instead.
Use it: Place the steamer in a pot and fill it with enough water to reach the gadget’s bottom. Wash and cut your vegetables into small pieces (they tend to cook faster that way) and place them inside the basket’s bottom. Once the water is boiling, cook the veggies for about five minutes or until tender. You may also want to add in lemon zest, garlic or other spices to the basket to infuse your side dish with new flavors and aromas.
More: Smart Holiday Food Swaps