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Chef Secrets: 11 Kitchen Essentials for Easy Cooking and Healthy Eating

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By Team Best Life

Some kitchen setups support weight loss efforts while others sabotage them. (The one pictured above looks like a good start to us!) Luckily it’s easy to make over a less-than-healthy cooking and baking space. If you have the right gadgets on your counters and fill your fridge and cabinets with the right foods your kitchen can be a weight loss haven, says Best Life chef Sidra Forman. Here are her 11 healthy kitchen essentials:

Must-Have Gadgets
1. A peeler
A good peeler opens up a whole world of fresh vegetables that might otherwise seem like a huge amount of labor to get through.

2. A salad spinner
Greens are low in calories and loaded with fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients, plant chemicals that protect against disease. A salad spinner makes it easier to incorporate them into your diet. Whether you’re cooking with them or creating a salad (like this tasty Peach Salad with Balsamic Dressing), you’ll want to start with clean and dry greens.

3. A roasting pan or heavy bottom skillet
Roasting is a cooking method that doesn’t require a ton of fat and brings out the flavors in all sorts of foods. If you do a lot of roasting, you’ll need a heavy bottom skillet. These allow you to cook over high heat—they distribute the heat nicely throughout the bottom of the pan—so food cooks properly without burning. A larger size pan is a good buy because you can use it for a lot of different foods.
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Indulge in a Smoothie Happy Hour! How a Splash of Booze Transforms Your Healthiest Smoothie Recipe

If you are anything like me, you like to stay fit but have a good time at night, too. I have the perfect answer for you. Below, I have some great (and healthy!) smoothie ideas that will be (almost) as healthy with a splash of spirits!

strawberry smoothie

Girls night, game night, or movie night can be an empty calorie bomb after a few rounds of daiquiris, martinis, and wine. Those calories in alcohol really add up! But when you make a compromise to indulge with a little of your favorite liquor swirled around in your favorite homemade fruit and veggie-based smoothie, then you get to enjoy a little of everything.

Enjoy these five healthy smoothies paired with a splash of somethin’!

Strawberry Whopper +Coconut rum

Strawberries, spinach, cacao powder, and coconut rum?! Somebody stop me! I am dead serious–this smoothie with a bit of rum is so delicious, and completely guilt free. Since this recipe, created by Nutritious America, already calls for coconut water, it is not that much of a stretch to imagine it with coconut rum instead. To avoid the smoothie becoming too watery, substitute half a cup of the coconut water for the rum instead. Voila! Delicious.
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Have Dessert for Breakfast with Frozen Banana Ice Cream Parfaits

There are some foods that are better enjoyed at a restaurant. Parfaits are not one of them. They’re often way too sweet, more so than is necessary. A breakfast parfait should be light, subtly sweet, and filling. And that’s exactly what we’ve created.

frozen banana parfait
Forget what you know about yogurt parfaits and follow along closely. Here, the yogurt is a garnish and homemade “ice cream” takes center stage. See, when you freeze bananas and blend them, the texture is eerily similar to ice cream. When you add a little vanilla, you’d be hard pressed to recognize the difference.
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Eat Your Way to Better Eye Sight

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., RD, Best Life lead nutritionist

Which of your five senses is most important to you? If you said “sight,” you’d be in the majority—four out of five baby boomers chose sight in a survey by the Ocular Nutrition Society.

eye health

So be proactive about protecting your sight: Eating to ensure your eyes stay healthy is as easy as following these three steps:

Choose antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E protect your eyes from free radicals, damaging compounds that can cause cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. A recent study of Swedish women found that those who consumed a diet with the most antioxidant power (one that featured antioxidants that worked best together to protect health) were 13 percent less likely to develop cataracts. Fruits and vegetables topped the list of main sources of antioxidants with 44 percent, followed by whole grains (17 percent) and coffee (15 percent).


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4 Ways to Fit in Breakfast Even on Busy Mornings

By Team Best Life

We know how tough it can be to find the time for a healthy breakfast when you’re trying to get out the door in the morning. But a recent survey from the NPD Group, a market research company, suggests that people have found a solution: More and more Americans are opting for grab-and-go breakfasts.

breakfast

That’s a smart strategy since the benefits of breakfast have been well proven—people who start their day with a healthy meal are generally slimmer and healthier than those who skip it. Not only can a morning meal help keep your appetite in check, but it can also give you a boost of energy.

Check out the grab-and-go breakfast ideas below, all of which can help you power through your day:

  • Muffins. Make a batch of over the weekend, and enjoy them all week long. (Handy tip: You can freeze them and microwave them for just a few seconds to soften them up right before eating.) Pair with a skim latte and fruit for a balanced breakfast. We love these Pumpkin Spice Muffins. Don’t have time for homemade? It’s fine to go for store-bought—just look for one with 160 to 200 calories and at least 5 g fiber.
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