With changing lifestyles, Canadians are increasingly not cooking meals at home and that could have a negative impact on their health.
An Ipsos Reid 2012 online poll with more than 2, 000 Canadian adults found that 43 per cent of Canadians do not cook balanced meals for themselves or their family on a regular basis. Although they understand that cooking homemade meals can improve diet quality, shifting values, time constraints and availability of and reliance on, prepared meals are just a few of the factors that translate into diminishing food-preparation skills. One of the greatest concerns is regarding lack of transference of cooking skills to the next generation. Evidence suggests that children who are involved in meal preparation and enjoy meals with their families have healthier diets.
A simple way to get kids involved in the kitchen is to introduce them to some simple kitchen gadgets. A few basic utensils are all you really need to whip up a healthy meal quickly and can be used by the whole family.
Below is a list of six must-have tools suggested by the nutrition experts at Dietitians of Canada for this year’s Nutrition Month to help inspire Canadian families to get back to cooking basics.
Steamer basket: why not skip the frying pan and forgo the oil? Steaming your veggies is a quick and easy, healthy alternative to sautéing.
Simply pop your choice of veggies into the steamer basket and into a pot of simmering water. Cover with a lid and within minutes, voila! Your veggies will be ready to plate and super healthy to boot. You’ll know they’re done when you can pierce them easily with a fork.
Box grater: A “grate” edition to your kitchen tool kit is a box grater. While we love using our grater for cheese, it can also be used for all kinds of vegetables. Salads with grated zucchini, beets or carrots are a tasty side dish option.
Immersion blender: When paired with a big pot, this will make preparing healthy soups an absolute whizz. Start with a base of onions, carrots and celery. Cook them in vegetable oil in a pan for a few minutes, add some soup stock, toss in some spices, veggies and/or legumes and when they’re cooked, blend away.
Lemon juicer: This dishwasher-friendly and ergonomic gizmo will allow you to season food with lemon or lime juice effortlessly. Just place half a lemon (or lime) between the presses, squeeze the handles … presto! The lemon juice will be extracted onto your food, but the annoying pulp and seeds will be excluded from the extraction.
Adding a zip of lemon is a healthy and easy way to infuse your meals with tons of flavour while forgoing the added salt.
Oil mister: Cut out excess fat from your diet by using an oil mister. The tool gives you precise control over how much oil is used. Instead of drowning your cooking pan or salad in tons of oil, the mister will simply coat it in a fine spray, which is all you need.
Measuring spoon set: If you thought these were only good for measuring liquid, think again. You can use them to sprinkle just the right amount of herbs, or spices on your dish. Cooking tools don’t need to be expensive or fancy. Along with quality pots in different sizes, and the above noted tools, you can stock your kitchen with a few other basic essentials to help you and your family cook like a pro.
Amanda O’Brien is a registered dietitian in St. John’s. Contact her through the website: www.recipeforhealth.ca.