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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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Cook Yourself Healthy with 4 Nutritious Spices

By Abra Pappa for NutritiousAmerica.com

Don’t ignore the nutrient powerhouses hidden away in your spice cabinet. Spices contain phenols which stimulate your immune system to protect against disease and are rich in anti-oxidants to protect your body from free radical damage. Spices can elevate a simple dinner into a nutrient dense, delicious masterpiece.

Here are my four favorite spices and their amazing health and healing properties. Plus, how to use them in your kitchen.

Smoked Paprika – This has been my “spice crush” for quite some time. A little dash turns a simple vegetable dish into something richer, heartier, and so delicious. Paprika, because of its high vitamin C content, helps your body absorb iron rich foods and fight infection. Try smoked paprika in these yummy recipes:

Smokey Joe’s

Smokey Tomato and Greens Soup

Smokey Salmon Kebabs
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Boost Your Health With Holiday Spices

If you’re looking to eat healthier this holiday season, you may not need to look further than your spice rack. Not only can some of your favorite seasonal spices add a little holiday cheer to your favorite dishes, they can also increase the nutritional benefit of each bite that you take.

Ginger

Historically, ginger has been credited with settling an upset stomach; however, the benefits of ginger go far beyond occasional stomach relief. In fact, ginger contains very powerful anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These compounds have been shown to reduce pain in those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis when consumed regularly. Gingerols may also help inhibit the growth of human colorectal and ovarian cancer cells.

To get more ginger in your diet, try Broiled Nectarines with Ginger Syrup

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a flavorful herb that enhances the flavor of potatoes, chicken, fish, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage dishes. In a recent study, nutmeg has been shown to play a role in tooth decay prevention due to its antibacterial properties.

To get more nutmeg in your diet, try Greek Yogurt with Honey Roasted Figs


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Your Complete Guide to Cinnamon

There’s a reason why cinnamon stars in all sorts of pies and cakes: it is a warming spice, excellent for balancing the winter chill and “waking up” the sluggish Kapha dosha.

In traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon has been used for centuries along with honey, ginger and tea to cure cold and flu.

Regular use of cinnamon improves the body’s ability to utilize blood sugar. In fact, just one gram of cinnamon taken daily can reduce fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL (“bad’) cholesterol. Researchers are now recommending that Type 2 diabetics take up to 1 tsp of cinnamon daily.

In a study, participants were exposed to four scents: zero odor, peppermint, jasmine, and cinnamon. Guess what? Cinnamon emerged the clear winner in boosting brain function, especially memory and motor co-ordination. Just chewing cinnamon-flavored gum or smelling the spice does the trick. Inhale some cinnamon essential oil and feel the alertness kick in.


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How to Cook Healthy Moroccan Food at Home

Moroccan food, which borrows inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culture, is exotic and diverse, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it in your own home as part of a healthy diet.

Moroccan food uses very distinct flavors and spices, such as cumin, coriander, saffron, chiles, dried ginger, cinnamon, and paprika, all of which give a flavor boost without adding fat or calories.

Start Your Meal with Mint Tea

You’ve probably heard diet tips that tell you to drink a full glass of water or eat an apple before beginning a meal to curb your appetite. In Morocco, green tea is a cultural sign of hospitality, friendship and tradition. People drink it throughout the day, so why not begin your meal with a calorie-free cup of tea?


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